Why You Need to Add Mystic Hot Springs to Your Utah Bucket List
In our year of traveling in our van, we’ve visited quite a few hot springs, developed and undeveloped, but none have been quite like Mystic Hot Springs. Mystic Hot Springs is a really quirky place on the edge of Monroe, Utah. It’s about two hours from Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks and about three hours from Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.
No one was in the office when we arrived at Mystic Hot Springs, but there was a sign in book and you can just slip the $15 per person entrance fee under the door and head out to the soaking pools. There is a small map posted on the door, so it’s pretty easy to find your way around. We did feel a bit weird though, just walking into the compound without talking to anyone first.
The thermal pools and tubs are on a hill above the office, buildings, and parking lot. There are two large concrete pools that are deeper and bigger but on the cooler side. Above those, up the hill closer to the source are six hotter soaking tubs. They are enormous, old claw-foot bathtubs for soaking, and most of them are big enough for two people to sit in. Over the years as the mineral rich water has run into the tubs, travertine has built up really cool bulbous deposits around the tubs.
The travertine is mostly a deep rust color, but it’s streaked with many other colors. If you look closely at the surface it has tiny ripples that make it seem like the water is almost pulsing over it. The water looks a bit murky, but as with most hot springs, the cloudiness is due to the natural minerals in the water. One of the greatest part about Mystic Hot Springs is that it’s not sulfurous, so there is no rotten egg smell to the water that clings to your skin and hair.
We visited Mystic Hot Springs in December after out trip to Bryce Canyon National Park. It was around 30 degrees the morning that we visited. We were a little nervous that the pools wouldn’t be hot enough to counteract the winter weather, but it actually ended up being really nice to soak in a steaming pool on a cold day. We felt like we were thawing out after one of the coldest nights we’ve ever had in the van. The steam from the hot water had created a layer of frost on the grass that was really beautiful in the morning light. The hardest part was getting out of the hot soaking tubs and back into the cold air when we were done soaking.
We skipped the large cooler pools at the bottom of the hill because of the chilly weather. We started our soaking in the three lowest bathtubs. These tubs only have a bit of rippled orange travertine on the back end of the tub that you can lean back against like a a backrest. The hottest water runs over the rock. After sitting in those pools for awhile, we became accustomed to their temperature and decided to move to the hotter tubs further up the hill.
The two large soaking tubs highest on the hill are partially enveloped by a huge red bulbous deposit of travertine, and the water sheets over this formation and into the pools. The water in these tubs was much hotter since it’s very close to the source of the hot spring.
At the source, the water of Mystic Hot Springs is 168 degrees, so the spot where the water actually comes out of the ground is fenced off. From there, the water travels down a series of channels and pipes that allow it to cool down to a more comfortable 99-110 degrees depending on which tub you are in.
The pools look over a golden meadow with fish ponds below you. On the horizon are the Pahvant Mountains capped with snow in the distance. Below the pools, is also a small stage where they sometimes have music. It would be so cool to watch a live performance while soaking in the tubs.
Besides the hot springs, there are a number of other amenities on this 175 acre resort. They have a long row of buses and old mobile homes that they rent out as cabins. We obviously didn’t take advantage of this since we’ve got our own little cabin on wheels. There’s also a big pond with ducks, and we spotted some peacocks casually strolling around the premises.
The whole place has a very funky, hippy vibe. If you’re looking for the highly developed, super clean, swimming pool experience that you find at some commercial hot springs this isn’t the place. Mystic Hot Springs is somewhere between wild, undeveloped hot springs and a resort.