Crystal Hot Springs: This is the place to warm your bones
By Rebecca Chavez-Houck
When the chill of early winter sets in, the myriad hot springs that dot the state are particularly appealing and surprisingly accessible. Some, like Meadow Hot Springs, are excellent finds, but have no visitor facilities. If you’re looking for someplace with more creature comforts, we’d recommend Crystal Hot Springs (8215 N Highway 38, Honeyville, 435-339-0038, CrystalHotSprings.net), located about an hour and a half north of Salt Lake City.
Crystal Hot Springs prides itself on having the highest mineral content of any hot spring in the world (46,000 mg/L). Background information provided by the facility notes that Steve Simms, a Utah State University professor of anthropology and archaeology, has done extensive field work in the area.
On the facility’s website, Simms notes that “where the springs is located was once home to more than 450 generations of Native American families. The North Shoshone-Bannock was the last native people to call the springs home. Once a year their tribe returned to the springs to spend time together and tell stories of their ancestors.” Next came Chinese railroad workers who soaked in cedar tubs. After that, Honeyville City was established by local beekeeper and farmer Abraham Hunsaker, who became its first mayor.
Crystal Hot Spring’s history as a commercial enterprise began in 1901. It’s been rebuilt several times over the years, including after a fire in 1937. Historical photos and signage in the newer, well-appointed main building take you through many decades of its operation. For example, during World World II, hundreds of soldiers were bussed to Crystal Hot Springs (as well as other hot springs throughout the country) to help rehabilitate them from combat injuries.
I know I felt wonderful after our evening soak and wished we could have spent more time there.
There are a number of pools, each with varying temperature levels. The temperatures are not posted by the pools, so you may have to get in to see if it’s a temperature you can handle. The kids (and kids-at-heart) can enjoy the 365 feet of waterslides (also open year-round) and Olympic-size lap pool. Take a moment to review the videos linked on the website to get a feel for the experience.
Just steps away from the pools, you’ll find a nice, grassy picnic area with tables. Even on a Sunday evening, we noticed a number of guests enjoying the hot springs and picnic area until closing. Refer to the website for hours of operation as they vary depending on the day and the season.
While the hot springs are open year-round, the campground is closed for the winter season Oct. 31-March 1. You need to contact the Crystal Hot Springs reservationist during business hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday) to reserve a site as there is no online reservation system, but you can start making reservations for the upcoming spring/summer/fall beginning on Jan. 1.
The campsites provide electric and water hookups and are well-kept. However, the campground bathroom and shower facilities are not updated. The landscaping is mature, and the cottonwood trees provide great shade. The campground is surrounded by farmland, and the sunset was beautiful the evening we camped there.
For the rates charged—especially during the weekend where you are required to stay two nights at $50 or more/night—the benefit of camping there is being steps away from the hot springs—something very appealing for a family weekend getaway.
A section in the campground is also set aside for tent-only camping as well as for group picnicking (by reservation). Campground fees do not include admission to the hot springs. Admission prices start at $9 for adults and vary by age. They are higher for use of the water slide. A family group rate is offered on Wednesday evenings.
Honeyville is only a few miles north of Brigham City, so we took advantage of dropping by The Rusted Spoon (2645 S. Highway 89, Perry, 435-723-0320, TheRustedSpoon.com) for breakfast after breaking camp. This is a must-do if you’re in the area, especially for breakfast. You’ll find delicious standard diner fare, but the fry-bread style scones and honey butter are our favorites. (The finger scones are huge and are made in the shape of a hand!) It was a great way to finish a quick trip to this wonderful Box Elder County hot springs find.
See you at the campground!
Crystal Hot Springs
Directions from Salt Lake City
Head north in Interstate 15 for 69 miles. Take Exit 372 off I-15, then head east on Utah Highway 240 for about a mile. At the intersection of Utah highways 240 and 38, turn left and travel north for 1.7 miles. Crystal Hot Springs is on the west side of the highway. Signs along the way make it easy to find.