Our “adventure group” has made it a mission to seek out the best hot springs in Utah. In general, the formation of hot springs or “thermal springs” tends to be quite consistent. Rain falling over the surrounding areas percolates through porous sedimentary rocks. As the rainwater seeps down, it dissolves and picks up minerals (like sulphur). At greater depths, the water is heated by the Earth’s primal heat. This groundwater moves about in underground rivers or just pools up — trapped between less porous layers of rock. When the water encounters a tectonic thrust fault it can follow cracks up to the surface. The weight of the water above it (the difference in pressure) pushes the water to the surface. If the crack is wide enough to allow easy travel, the water will reach the surface before cooling too much. If it takes a long time to reach the surface then it may have significantly cooled before it encounters the surface.
January 9th, we explored a 3/4 square mile hot spring field near the Baker hot springs (the more dangerous of the sites we’ve visited so far because we fell waist deep into well-disguised sink holes filled with rather warm mud — not too hot thankfully). The hot springs in that field ranged from 70° to 160° F (HOT!). Previously, we’ve relaxed in the refreshing pools at Meadow springs (the most popular one hovers on top of a cave that is 30 feet deep (currently at 92° F) and we have also explored the many pools at the ever-popular Diamond Fork hot springs (also called Fifth Water hot springs). Those pools range from 68° to 128° F.
We will be heading out again this weekend to explore a hot spring whose lower pool is rumored to have an underwater tunnel we can swim through and make our way into an impressive cavern. Stay tuned to find out. We will also be SCUBA diving in the previously explored hot spring. Those pictures will be great