This past weekend I did something that was one part rock, one part water, one part mist, one part heat, one part cold, one part darkness, one part light, and 1/100th part creepy. There were some other parts in their, too, but I think these reflect the most important ones.
I spent the holiday weekend in Utah, in the Heber Valley area. Dotting the landscape were columns of whispy steam rising in the crisp winter cold. These whisps were emanating from rounded mounds of what appeared to be snow covered earth. But which turned out to be rock.
BAD picture quality, but its the best one I got!
These mounds are Hot Pots. Formed over the eons by heated water bubbling up from underground lakes, as the water would overflow the minerals within it would eventually form a mounded “crust”. The visible mounds surrounded small bodies of this heated water. One local entrepreneur blasted a hole in a rather large mound which was located on his property. This hole was blasted at the base of the mound and extended hundreds of feet through the rock into the interior of the mound. This provided easy access to the fresh smelling mineral rich waters within.
Becky and Bill entering the mound…
Inside the mound there is a place to remove outer clothing and to don a life jacket. Down the tunnel all you can see is mist. In warmer weather the air is clear, but the mist adds a wonderful and ethereal quality to the space! As you enter the mist the water comes into view. Dimly lit from below by a few lights, it dances green and warm. A small hazy shaft of light comes down from above through a small natural vent at the top of the mound.
The water below is 45 feet across in each direction, and extends 65 feet deep. Though it is 20 degrees outside, it is warm inside. The water remains fairly constantly 94-97 degrees. And it gets warmer the deeper you swim.
Becky, Susi, and Bill warming in the seated area before entering the swimming area
We shared our swim with scuba divers who come to get their certification, usually for a winter vacation to somewhere warm. What a great place to get excellent diving experience. I will admit that the when these divers swim underneath you that the bubbles which arise from the bottom of the little warm lake can be a bit disconcerting, and creepy feeling when you aren’t expecting them. It is mostly dark down in the water and it’s easy to imagine monsters and slimy things reaching up from the deep to grab unsuspecting bathers! We were assured however, that these waters do not support any life.
There are some of these warm lakes which haven’t formed the mound yet and are open and free to the public. When we first decided to get warm and wet, we weighed the option of using one of these random free ponds or pay to go in the big hot pot. “Free is good” was my initial response. But when we arrived at the location, we had to drive through mud to get there, and the pond was filled with what looked like possibly naked, maybe beer swilling local types with the requisite hound running around. And since it was outside and not surrounded by the mound, it looked wicked cold!!! “Free is good, but sometimes paying is better” became the new mantra.
It was worth the $10 bucks admission, that’s for sure.
A dreamy little vacation within a vacation!
I attempted to find more information on the pots to share here, but there is very little to be found. Not even a Wikipedia entry, which surprised me!
In the end, if you ever find yourself in the Heber Valley part of Utah, make sure you add this to your list of things you must do. The pay to enter Hot Pot is at the Homestead Resort. Check out the website. Click on “The Crater” for more info and a few more pics. Call and ask for the activities desk to make reservations. You won’t be sorry! And you should stay at the Invited Inn while you are there. It’s a fabulous little swiss style B&B with the most delightful proprieters (Bill and Susie, pictured above in the hot pot.) More on this lovely Inn in a post to follow.