Soak in Natural Mineral Water and Sleep Under the Stars at This Hot Spring Oasis in the Utah Desert
It's time this remote Utah destination was put on the map.
It's hard to forget your first hot springs experience. A soak in water that is naturally heated by the earth is not only calming and magical, but some say it has health benefits — from improving circulation and relieving pain to helping skin conditions. For centuries, these pockets of warmth have been a place for people to gather and rest. It's a tradition that's alive and well at Mystic Hot Springs in Monroe, Utah.
The little resort is as remote as it gets, and the setting can only be described as rustic and funky. Here, visitors can soak in reclaimed bathtubs fed by pure mineral water heated by the earth, dance to live music under the stars, and sleep in a bus that once followed the Grateful Dead.
This is what you need to know to make the most of the Mystic experience.
How to Get There
Located in Monroe, Utah, a tiny town sandwiched between national forest land, Mystic Hot Springs is just over two and a half hours from Salt Lake City, four hours from Las Vegas, approximately one and a half hours from Capitol Reef National Park, and about three hours from Zion National Park. It can be a trek to get there, but the waters and vibe are well worth the effort. And thanks to its remote location, you can soak in peace without dealing with hordes of tourists.
What to Expect
The water comes out of the earth at around 168 degrees Fahrenheit, cooling as it descends down the hill, which is peppered with pools and bathtubs filled with clear, hot water. The main mineral in the water at Mystic is calcium carbonate, which builds the orange-red mounds and arches that dot the property (it's as Instagrammable as it gets). The mineral is also said to be good for skin and bones and soothes sore muscles. Plus, since there is no sulfur in the water at Mystic, you won't have to worry about that traditional pungent hot spring smell.
In addition to using the water for soaking, the folks at Mystic rely on "cascading use," a permaculture concept that feeds various tropical fish ponds, grows vegetables, and heats buildings. The resident geese, peacocks, llamas, and emus depend on the water and provide a little added entertainment for visiting soakers.
The hot springs are found within the town of Monroe, but because the town itself is remote, make sure to pack all the essentials for your stay — plenty of water, sunscreen, a towel, and food if you'll be staying the night.
Soaking at Mystic Hot Springs is $25 for adults and $12.50 for kids ages 12 and under. The pre-reserved slots are two hours long and ensure you don't have to deal with crowds (or worry about someone photobombing your snaps).
What to Do
It isn't just about the water (or the animals) at Mystic. Bands make the journey to this magical place to add their sounds to the experience, so you can soak in hot mineral water while musical groups like The Motet, Nahko and Medicine for the People, and MarchFourth Marching Band jam on the stage below.
If you're looking for a dose of nature, the springs have you covered. Scattered around the 175-acre resort are hiking and mountain biking trails, or you can venture further into Fishlake National Forest. Many visitors swing by Capitol Reef National Park or Zion National Park before soaking in the springs.
If you can't get enough of the natural hot water, drop by the nearby Red Hill Hot Springs.
Where to Stay
Part of the appeal of Mystic is the lodging. You can book a restored Mormon pioneer cabin or revisit your hippie days with a stay in one of the converted school buses — the Ben Bus, which once followed the Grateful Dead and has a Volkswagen van built into the top, is particularly cool, as is The Other One Bus, with its attached deck and lounge area. You can also camp or bring your own RV and use the property's hot showers (and hot pools).
If you're looking for more space and a quieter stay, head to the nearby town of Joseph and stay at the Wildland Gardens. The farm and garden offer a series of glamping tents with decks and fire pits, as well as a small guesthouse and inn. Plus, the property is less than 10 minutes from Mystic.
Those looking for a "more traditional" night of sleep will find hotel chains like the Holiday Inn and Fairfield Inn in Richfield, which is 15 minutes by car from Mystic.