Warm Water Scuba Diving At Homestead Crater Utah

  • Updated: July 10, 2019
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

July 10th, 2019

I am fortunate to live in Southern California where I have multiple accessible diving options even if the water can be a bit on the chilly side. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to check out the diving options whenever I'm traveling.

It has been surprising how many different places you can find out and about that offer diving. Lakes, quarries, rivers, aquariums, and every now and then something a bit more unique like Homestead Crater.

Homestead Crater's claim to fame is that it is the only warm water diving destination in the continental US.  It's located near Midway Utah and is found inside a large mineral dome which has a hole up top allowing sunlight to stream down into a 65 ft deep fresh water column. And it's hot, really bloody hot!

The site is open year-round and the water temperature is in the 90s which could be rather nice in the winter or rather oppressive in the summer heat. When we were there it was also rather busy and they require reservations for a particular time-slot to prevent too many people being in the rather limited volume.

We spent the morning hiking into nearby Fifth Water Hot Springs and soaking for a bit before driving over for the first publicly available time slot at 12:30 in the morning. (signs mentioned that they run open water certification classes in the mornings)

The instructions tell you to arrive early and check in at the well signed building across the parking lot from the Crater. (Based on what we saw most people seem to ignore this and walk into the Crater itself only to be turned around.) Once inside we had to sign the usual waivers telling us that diving is dangerous while the phone was constantly ringing with parties trying to make reservations for that afternoon. Once we'd finished the paperwork and paid we were sent over to the Crater itself.

At noon we knocked on the front door and were let inside by a friendly gentleman who handed us the our rental gear.

No wetsuits for this one, just swim trunks, a BCD, tank, regulator, warm water fins, and a minimal weight belt, and we were good to go. (We had our masks along since we planned to dive later in the trip but those were available as well)

He gave us a brief dive briefing letting us know the water was 93 degrees and the vis was about 35 ft due to a bit of silt that had been kicked up by a scuba class that morning. We were instructed to keep our dive to 35 minutes (the site is at altitude after all) and asked not to go below the last floating PVC structure down at 40 ft and to avoid getting near the walls to avoid kicking up more silt. We were also told not to jump in for the same reason.

The water was pleasantly clear and blue and the entire area is humid. It must be nice in the winter when there is snow outside.

After our safety checks we elected to lower ourselves down gently via the provided ladder into water that felt like warm bathwater.

I've done most of my diving off the coast of California where it's considered warm if you get into the mid 60s and the most popular attire is a dry suit or 7mm wetsuits. The 96 degree water felt...disturbing and well before the 35 minutes were up I was starting to feel woozy.

Jen on the other hand is a bit more sensitive to cold and despite just having been out in Indonesia diving in what I'd call warm water she promptly declared that this was the most amazing diving experience of her life.

We were the first ones in the water and the only ones diving during or time slot.

There's a dive platform at around 15 or 20 ft and a few PVC swim thrus down around 40 ft. And other than that you just have blank walls and no fish.

They did have a few plastic animals on the dive platform to keep you company but they were in a bit of rough shape except for the turtle.

The walls had an interesting look to them but pretty much everything was coating in fine silt so we had to avoid getting too close.

We dropped down to 40, took some goofy pictures, played around the swim thrus, took a few more goofy pictures, and basically killed time until our 35 minute dive time was up. I was ready to be done after about 15 minutes especially as the heat was enough to make me woozy but we wanted to use our entire time.

We couldn't make out much of the floor as it was another 20 ft down and the water was dark and a bit murky but from what I've read online they've actually pulled artifacts out of the silt down there. (They also charge you a retrieval fee if you drop anything.)

During our safety stop I could see a number of swimmers were now paddling around above us.  It looked like everyone had to wear life jackets possibly due to a drowning accident they had there a few years ago.

It was entertaining seeing seeing the reaction of the soakers when we surfaced but mostly I was just grateful to climb out of the water and be able to cool down a bit.

They had what looked like showers and a few slightly cramped changing areas available but it was so warm out we didn't feel the need.  Instead we decided to take a look at the top of the crater.

You can get up to the top by exiting the front door, making a left, and following the walkway past the sign and up a set of stairs.

The top offers a decent view of the area and you can see down into the crater but it's a little less impressive than the similar -ish Devil's Den we dove down in Florida due to all the safety fencing.

And that was that. It was an interesting experience, I'm glad I did it, and I also feel no real need to ever go back.  Maybe if I'm in the area, it's snowing, and I'm really really desperate to get my fins wet.

We had a good 6 hours of driving ahead of us but before we left we made one more quick stop that I would highly recommend at the nearby Heber Valley Milk and Artisan Cheese which had really good homemade ice cream. And a busload of screaming children I could have done without.

Next up: Bison! Geysers! Playing tourist! And even a quick peak in Yellowstone National Park

You Might Also Like