Finding a place to go for a winter campout can be a challenge. Especially in our area where many of the mountain roads are closed because of deep Utah powder and trailheads only accessible by snowmobile (or involve avalanche danger too much for 12-13 year olds). Now don’t read this as any kind of complaint. Winter is my favorite season and snowmobiling is one of those winter pastimes I can’t get enough of. However, when it comes to overnight scout outings, I struggle with where to go to have some safe winter fun.
My troop did find a unique place to have a winter scout outing in December at Crystal Hot Springs in Honeyville, Utah, just north of Brigham City. We had heard about this place from other scout groups and thought it would be fun to finish out the year with a “splash”. We also wanted to try a hot pot destination that was a bit more camper-friendly than what we’ve experienced at Meadow Hot Springs or even up Diamond Fork Canyon.
Crystal is definitely a lot more “camper-friendly” than any of the other hot springs we’ve visited as a Troop (I’ll mention the not-so-camper-friendly feature later). They have over 100 designated camp spots on either side of the swimming area – some with hook-ups, some without. Although the main lodge has locker rooms, I didn’t see bathroom facilities anywhere else.
From a hot springs perspective, we enjoyed five very nice pools with temperatures ranging from 71° in the lap pool (chlorinated) to 99° in the soaking pool (spring fed). The three hot tubs were 101°, 102° and 105°. They also have one side of their water slide running for added fun during these cold winter months – which we thought was awesome – where else can you play on a water slide in December (or January, or February, or even March?)!
We soaked on Friday night until they closed at 10pm, which seemed a bit busy with the local teenage scene. Saturday morning was nearly a private rental since we were the first ones in when they opened at 10am. Other guests really didn’t start showing up until around noon… which is when we left.
Swimming rates for scout groups is the same as their standard rates for anyone: $10 per person for a Pool & Slide Pass on the first day, $5 for the second day. However, the special discount offered to scouts includes:
1) a free campsite (normally $15 per night for a tent site)
2) adult leaders pay $5 for a Swim/Slide pass on day 1 (and no charge on day 2)
3) Scouts can swim/slide for free on the second day if your troop is willing to do an hour’s worth of service on Saturday morning (such as raking leaves)
We appreciate these discounts since every little bit helps in keeping the costs down for an organization with limited funds by the end of the year.
As for the not-so-camper-friendly feature of Crystal Hot Springs: it would have to be the railroad tracks! I’m not sure it matters what time of year it is, but be prepared to deal with trains passing through the night. Not just one, but at least three! Since these tracks are located within 50 yards or so from sites #85-109, expect excessive train whistles and good ground vibrations at midnight, 3:45am and again at 5am. This was definitely a string of unexpected surprises for us; but really, our only complaint (other than being a little on the pricey side for a big scout troop like ours). All things considered, the boys liked the overall experience so much they want to make this outing a tradition every December.
If you’re into the health benefits of mineral baths, here’s what’s in the water at Crystal:
Alkaline: 378 mg/L
In a 24-hour period, there are 900,000 lbs of minerals carried to the surface of 2.4 million gallons of hot water. This hot spring is coming from 8,000 feet below the earth’s surface and estimated to be around 22,000 years old.
Less than 50 feet from Crystal’s natural hot spring surfaces a 60 degree cold spring of almost identical size. These two springs this close to each other is one of only two places in the world where a hot and cold spring surface so close together.
The 3 hot tubs and soaker pools are drained and cleaned on a daily basis and refilled by fresh flowing water all day long. The water from the hydro-tube slide flows through copper tubbing submerged in the hot spring to maintain warm temperatures in the colder months.
Finally, here’s a mineral content comparison between Crystal Hot Springs and the other hot pots we’ve been to: