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VOL.5 NO.9 • NOVEMBER 2019








November 2019 • Vamoose Utah | 1

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From scuba diving in a warm-springs crater to riding a heritage railroad, Heber Valley overflows with fun BY KATHLEEN CURRY AND GEOFF GRIFFIN

14 SOAK UP THE BEAUTY Utah spas that give us pause







Crystal Hot Springs: This is the place to warm your bones


The wild side of rice: Eating wild foods in wild places is a special experience BY ARI LEVAUX

The right gear will keep your dive alive


Idaho’s Maple Grove Hot Springs is re-emerging as an off-grid retreat center BY JARED BLACKLEY

One-of-a-kind Bonneville Seabase beckons divers and snorkelers from around the world BY CHRIS VANOCUR


Soldier Hollow in Heber Valley

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November 2019 • Vamoose Utah | 5

VOL.5 NO.9 • NOVEMBER 2019














John Saltas Pete Saltas

Jerre Wroble Lance Gudmundsen, Megan Wagstaff Jared Blackley, Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Kathleen Curry, Geoff Griffin, Ari LeVaux, Chris Vanocur, Megan Wagstaff

When she’s not busy canning jam or perfecting her breakfast hash, you’ll find writer and SLC-native Megan Wagstaff on her snowboard or stand-up paddle board. On living downtown, Wagstaff says, “My actual backyard is the size of a postage stamp, but it’s so easy to get to the mountains. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Chelsea Neider Sofia Cifuentes, Jennifer Terry

Paula Saltas David Adamson, Samantha Herzog Bryan Mannos

Eric Granato

Kyle Kennedy Anna Papadakis Doug Kruithof, Kathy Mueller Kelly Boyce

Chris Vanocur is a freelance writer and journalist living in Salt Lake. A recipient of both the Peabody and duPont-Columbia University awards, his writing and photography have appeared in a number of publications.

On the cover: Family fun at Crystal Hot Springs, Honeyville, Utah Courtesy of Crystal Hot Springs Distributed free of charge throughout the Wasatch Front while supplies last. Additional copies of Vamoose Utah are available at the Vamoose offices: 248 S. Main, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, 801-716-1777

Editorial contact: Advertising contact: COPPERFIELD PUBLISHING, INC • COPYRIGHT 2019 • ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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Geoff Griffin and Kathleen Curry are the ultimate weekend warriors in pursuit of Utah-based adventures for Vamoose Utah.


Midway Crater


h, November. The time of year when it makes perfect sense to grab your swimsuit (yes, really) and seek out hot water in whatever setting you desire—be it indoor spa, outdoor pool, crater or natural pond. Then, ahh! Commence to soak. Other times of the year in this high-altitude desert we call home, it can be too hot or too cold for enjoyable immersion, but the month of November (which, in Salt Lake City, ranges from an average high of 51 degrees Fahrenheit to a low of 36) affords the right mix of cool air for maximum hot-soak intervals. The benefits of hot-water soaking—improved blood circulation, muscle relaxation, mood elevation and a better night’s sleep, to name a few—don’t take long to achieve. Twenty minutes of soaking can greatly improve your sense of well-being. As to where to drop anchor, Vamoose has frequently written about an Idaho go-to: Lava Hot Springs (430 E. Main, Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, 208-776-5221, And for those who don’t object to a delightful 4½ mile round-trip hike, soaking in Fifth Water (or Diamond Fork) Hot Springs in Utah County, with its iridescent turquoise pools, is proof that you’ve “arrived” as a Utah outdoor adventurer. After soaking, though, there is that vexing issue of the return trip. Here you are, all relaxed and stress-free, only to be filled with dread that in order to return home, you need to navigate an icy trail and/or treacherous freeway. Instead of sipping a hot toddy and curling up under a down comforter to catch some ZZZ,



you find yourself with wet hair dripping down your neck, drinking a king-size cup of filling-station coffee with a side of Red Bull, fueling up for a jittery journey home. So maybe open your mind to soaking in waters with the possibility of an overnight stay. Consider sleeping in buses at Mystic Hot Springs in central Utah or lodging at a Swiss-themed resort in Heber Valley near the Midway Crater. Or just plan a day trip to Crystal Hot Springs or Snowbird’s Cliff Lodge rooftop spa—all of which you’ll read about in this month’s Vamoose. Interested in learning to scuba dive? Chris Vanocur notes that a dive at Bonneville Seabase offers glimpses of tropical fish (and possibly mermaids). And check out our list of scuba gear curated by Megan Wagstaff. One of the perks of living in Utah—and in much of the West, for that matter—is having ready access to hot springs (for a map of the nation’s 1,600-plus geothermal springs, visit Maps.NGDC. Salt Lake City took its own hot water so much for granted that it capped off what was Wasatch Warm Springs and Hot Springs Lake north of town and paved them over to create Interstate 15, a gravel pit and an oil refinery! Pity the poor souls in much of New England and the Great Lakes area who must resort to heating their spa water with hot-water tanks. In Utah, we can make a year-round adventure out of letting the earth warm ours. So, go forth and soak! Your skin, bones and soul will thank you.

—Jerre Wroble

November 2019 • Vamoose Utah | 7

Deer Creek Reservoir Heber Valley



WARM WELCOME From scuba diving in a warm-springs crater to riding a heritage railroad, Heber Valley overflows with fun BY KATHLEEN CURRY AND GEOFF GRIFFIN


s the weather along the Wasatch Front teeters between the fall finale and the first stages of winter, it’s the perfect time for a weekend getaway to a mountain valley that can be reached from greater Salt Lake in less than an hour. The Heber Valley, ringed by mountains and home to Heber City and Midway, is so picturesque that Latter-day Saint pioneers who came from Switzerland in the 19th century settled here because it reminded them so much of home. Whatever time of year you visit, the Heber Valley features outdoor water recreation at Jordanelle State Park and Deer Creek Reservoir as well as world-class fly-fishing along the Provo River. The area also evokes a sense of nostalgia and tradition for many Utah families with attractions such as the Midway Crater or Heber Creeper railroad. Whether you’re brand new to Utah or looking to relive that time that Grandma took you ice skating, check out the following weekend itinerary.

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Thursday Evening



Salt Lake City to Heber


Back 40 Ranch House Grill

Heber Valley Historic Railroad Depot


Head east for 25 miles out of Salt Lake City on Interstate 80. Just east of the Kimball Junction exit to Park City, take Exit 146 to U.S. highways 40/189 and head toward Heber for about 15 miles. Before you arrive in Heber, turn off to heed the call of dinner at Back 40 Ranch House Grill (1223 N. Highway 40, Heber, 435-654-3070, Back40Utah. com), a farm-to-table restaurant that features the cheeses of Heber Valley Creamery. You can try the white cheddar as part of a bacon mac-n-cheese dish, or the jalapeño-bacon cheddar that comes on the Back 40 burger, a colossus also topped with pastrami and caramelized onions. Don’t forget the house-made potato chips served with charred onion dip. Once in Heber Valley, check in at Zermatt Utah (784 W. Resort Drive, Midway, 435-657-0180, ZermattResort. com), an Old World, Swiss-themed resort that comes with a spa, multiple dining options and help with setting up adventures with local recreation outfitters. If you are not ready to turn in for the night, check out the Pub, an on-site spot for a variety of beers, including some from nearby breweries.

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• ••

Friday Morning Heber

Start the day with a stop at The Bagel Den (570 N. Main, Heber City, 435-654-3193, where you can pair 19 different kinds of bagels, including a French toast flavor, with eight different cream cheese options, such as bacon and scallions. There’s also a full coffee and tea menu. If the weather permits, head southwest out of Heber to Deer Creek State Park for a session with Zipline Utah (U.S. 189 at Mile Marker 22, 866-923-1063, Their Screaming Falcon tour is the longest zipline journey in the world, running a total of almost 4,000 feet over Rainbow Bay while never touching the ground. The views of the Wasatch Mountains and Deer Creek Lake are part of an experience that takes two-to-three hours and must be booked in advance. The ziplines are open year-round.

Friday Afternoon

Zipline Utah Heber Valley



Fantastic Mexican food can be found for lunch at Tarahumara (380 E. Main, Midway, 435-654-3465, In addition to tacos, fajitas and a fresh salsa bar, they make a ceviche with a lime-marinated mahi and plantain chips along with albondigas (meatball soup) served with tortillas. After lunch, head over to the Midway Crater (700 N. Homestead Drive, Midway, 435-657-3840,, a volcano-shaped limestone deposit rising 55 feet above ground that was 10,000 years in the making. A favorite destination for generations of Utahns, the cone encloses a pool of geothermal-heated spring water that stays at 90-96 degrees. It’s great for a soak, but you can also snorkel or dive in the only warm scuba diving destination in the continental United States. Be sure to make advance reservations.

Friday Evening

A falcon’s view of Heber Valley

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Midway to Heber

The Blue Boar Inn (1235 Warm Springs Road, Midway, 435-6541400, is an award-winning old-style European inn and restaurant, and its chef, Eric May, is regularly recognized for his cuisine. The Blue Boar menu features classics such as filet mignon and rack of lamb, but also European dishes such as Swedish meatballs served with lingonberry sauce or Holsteiner schnitzel with sautéed spaetzle. If you’d like to keep the evening to keep going, check out Melvin’s Public House (139 N. Main, Heber City, 435-654-9464,, a family-friendly sports pub with full bar and a dozen local beers on tap.


•• •

Saturday Morning Midway

Midway Ice Castles


Start off the day at Fill ’Er Up Coffee Station (201 E. Main, Midway, 435-657-2700, The name comes in part from it being a place to load up on great coffee along with made-from-scratch waffles and quiche, but also because it’s a renovated 1930s gas station full of nostalgic decor. After you grab breakfast, you’re within walking distance of Midway City Ice Rink (75 N. 100 West, Midway, 435-7092980,, which is Utah’s largest outdoor sheet of ice. Gliding along the ice in a mountain town is the stuff winter dreams are made of. The rink usually opens around Thanksgiving weekend.

Saturday Afternoon & Evening Heber

Skating will help you work up an appetite for lunch at Dairy Keen (199 S. Main, Heber City, 435-654-KEEN, also known as Home of the Train, or Trainburger, which is a quarter-pound burger that also happens to have ham, Swiss and American cheeses and a special Train Sauce on top. Dairy Keen, which has been open since 1946, has been winning Best of Utah awards for its burgers and shakes for years and serves up gallons of fry sauce each day so you know it’s Utah-approved. Keep the train theme going with a ride on the Heber Valley Railroad (450 S. 600 West, Heber City, 435-654-5601,, also known as the Heber Creeper. The Deer Creek Express leaves from Heber City on most Saturday afternoons at 3 p.m. and makes a 90-minute scenic journey along Deer Creek Reservoir out to Decker Bay and back. The trip includes a staged train robbery, but don’t worry—it’s comical and kid-friendly. There are also various themed trains throughout the year. The North Pole Express runs during November and December and a certain red-suited traveler has been known to be a frequent passenger.

Snake Creek Grill (650 W. 100 South, Heber City, 435-6542133, calls itself Utah’s Favorite Little Local, referring to the number of locals who clamor for chef Dean Hottle’s cuisine. But, you can also judge by the number of guests who’ve driven there from some distance because they know it’s a spot for a great meal. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you’ll enjoy the seasonally rotating menu with dishes such as cornmeal-fried red trout topped with an avocado and tomato relish. One favorite that stays on the menu year-round is the black-bottom, banana-cream pie. Given its mountain locale, there are several weeks during the winter when Midway Ice Castles ( turns Midway into a winter wonderland. It’s is one of six spots across North America operated by a local company that utilizes water and freezing temperatures to create structures and sculptures that are illuminated at night. When the display starts and ends is dependent on the weather, so check the website for details before making plans. November 2019 • Vamoose Utah | 11


Winter tubing at Soldier Hollow



Sunday Midway


Midway Mercantile

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The building where Midway Mercantile (99 E. Main, Midway, 435-315-4151, is located was built in 1874, but opened as a restaurant in 2017 that now serves a Sunday brunch menu with Echo Falls smoked salmon lox on stone-hearth toasted bread. It’s also your chance to try the “Imperial Mix Up,” which combines eggs, coconut rice, Hawaiian-style sausage and vegetables tossed together in a ginger sauce. Whether enjoying the last vestiges of fall weather or if winter has arrived in full force, finish off the weekend at Soldier Hollow (2002 Soldier Hollow Lane, Midway, 435-6542002, This spot, site of the 2002 Olympic Nordic skiing events, offers recreation regardless of the weather. If it’s a late fall and the ground is still clear, try hiking and mountain biking along the trails. If the snow has arrived, it’s time for cross-country skiing (you can rent equipment and schedule lessons) or taking a ride on the tubing hill.

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Amangiri spa in southern Utah



hen winter along the Wasatch Front takes hold, one option for escape is to find a place with warm water where you can soak the chill away. Check out these outdoor spots that will let you enjoy the crisp, cool air of winter while relaxing in heated water. Some offer a luxurious spa experience at the higher end of the budget while others are family friendly and downright homey.

Spa Montage Deer Valley


Spa Montage’s indoor whirlpool

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9100 Marsac Ave., Park City, 435-604-1400, What’s better than soaking in an outdoor hot tub while the snow is gently falling around you? How about putting that hot tub at the top of a mountain that overlooks Park City? Or even better, how about getting out of that tub and walking indoors into a 35,000 square-foot spa that features a mosaic, indoor lap pool with those same breathtaking views? You can find this—and more—at Spa Montage, part of the resort Montage Deer Valley. This internationally known brand name has tried to replicate the feel of a European wellness retreat, including experiences such as a Vichy shower, where large quantities of warm water are poured over guests as they lie on beds similar to a massage table. The spa also offers multiple jetted whirlpools and deluge showers.

St. Regis Deer Valley Remède Spa

2300 Deer Valley Drive East, Park City, 435-940-5830 It’s always nice to have a great pool in a beautiful location— and at a prestigious hotel, too. All of that can be found at the St. Regis Deer Valley pool, which is heated so you can enjoy it after a cold day on the slopes. The split-level pool also has surrounding hot tubs if you want to raise the temperature. The location lets you watch skiers come down the hill towards your heated oasis in the snow. If you’d rather be indoors, step over to Remède Spa, which is dedicated to relaxation through water-inspired amenities.

Snowbird Cliff Lodge Spa

9320 Cliff Lodge Drive, Snowbird, 801-933-2222 After playing in Little Cottonwood Canyon, consider lounging in the outdoor pool of The Cliff Lodge spa. The rooftop heated swimming pool and three hot tubs are open year-round and feature beautiful mountain views. The Cliff Spa is on the 9th and 10th floors and offers 21 treatment rooms, a yoga studio, fitness center and solarium, along with a co-ed eucalyptus steam room and women’s and men’s dry saunas. Just want to soak just for the day? Purchase a $25 daily passport good for use Monday through Thursday, or one for $30 on Friday, Saturday or Sunday (robe and sandals included).

475 E. 100 North, Monroe, 435-527-3286 What makes these waters “mystical” is that they naturally are clean and hygienic, contain no sulfur, and stay between 99-110 degrees Fahrenheit. Your choices include a 2-foot-deep pool with a waterfall or a 4-foot deep pool you can float in. Or ask to have one of six old-fashioned cast-iron bathtubs filled for your own personal soak. Passes are $15. Given that these waters percolate in the tiny central Utah town of Monroe, a mere 2½-hour drive from Salt Lake City, there’s little to prevent soakers from enjoying the sunset followed by a nighttime sky filled with the Milky Way in all its glory. Also, check the Mystic Hot Springs website for their upcoming acoustic concerts where you can soak and listen to live music. If you want to stick around for a night or weekend, the website can reserve cabins and buses (yes, buses) where you can sleep.

Mystic Hot Springs pool


Mystic Hot Springs

November 2019 • Vamoose Utah | 15


Amangiri Resort Canyon Point

Amangiri Resort Canyon Point

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Amangiri Utah Spa

1 Kayenta Road, Canyon Point, 435-675-3999 One way to get warm during a Wasatch Front winter is to drive south. Just above the Arizona boarder on the drive between Kanab and Lake Powell, Amangiri sits on 600 acres of beautiful desert landscape. The 25,000 square-foot “Utah Spa” includes an outdoor stone-lined pool where you can sit on a cushioned seat in temperature-controlled water and enjoy the view of the surrounding rock formations. If you’d rather have your water right on hand, check out the Mesa Pool and Desert Pool suites with their own private plunge pools just steps out the door.

801-363-0565 | 580 E 300 S www.theart

Mon- Sat 8-6:45 Sunday 10-5 9275 S 1300 W | 801-562-5496 November 2019 • Vamoose Utah | 17


One-of-a-kind Bonneville Seabase beckons divers and snorkelers from around the world BY CHRIS VANOCUR


here are two types of people in the world: Those who enjoy hanging out in hot tubs and those that don’t. Those who do seem to rejoice in sitting half-naked while simmering with strangers, chewing the fat and perhaps sipping an adult beverage. Others, like me, find this kind of waterlogged social gathering akin to hell on earth. Or, at least, hell in hot water. My aversion to the aquatic life means I eschewed some of the more traditional Utah soaking places for this hot-water themed issue. Instead, I headed 40 miles west of Salt Lake and dropped anchor at the Bonneville Seabase. Located on 60 acres, Seabase bills itself as “Utah’s Inland Ocean.” As I understand it—and I really don’t—Seabase’s three warm saltwater pools are fed by natural geothermally heated springs bubbling up from land once covered by ancient Lake Bonneville. The salinity of the water closely resembles that of the Earth’s oceans. While its inland remoteness might cause some to raise a skeptical eyebrow, Seabase is beloved among the national and international diving community for its assortment of tame tropical fish that swim in the depths of the pools (from 12 to 62 feet). Seabase is owned and operated by the married diving team of Linda Nelson (who wears fish earrings) and George

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Sanders. They bought the place back in the late 1980s because they wanted a teaching spot to call their own. At their inland ocean, divers and snorkelers pay $20 to mingle with angelfish, butterfly fish, mono fish, porkfish, black drum and groupers. There used to be a couple of small sharks, but, after a long life, they vamoosed a while back. If diving and snorkeling aren’t your thing, $5 dollars will get you a pedicure by some “mollies” (molly fish). But Nelson and Sanders say what also helps keep them afloat (bad pun intended) are special events throughout the year: Music festivals, regional Burning Man bashes and a light festival with lanterns are just some of the big Seabase draws. There have even been a couple of underwater weddings, complete with sign language interpreters and some “yes” and “no” cue cards. Talk of underwater love prompted me to snarkily ask if there have ever been any mermaid sightings at Seabase. Well, as it turns out, there have been. Utah, apparently, has a collection of half-female, half-fish residents, and these mythical creatures occasionally tailgate at the inland ocean’s salty shindigs. My Seabase visit was on a hot Saturday afternoon in August. The gravel parking lot was filling up, mostly with Utah clientele.


Divers and snorkelers mingle with angelfish, butterfly fish, mono fish, porkfish, black drum and groupers

However, I did notice one out-of-state license plate (Colorado). Summer is the busiest time of year, so it’s wise to call ahead to reserve a spot. Some families even pack a picnic and make a day of it. Or a night. Overnight camping is available for an additional charge. Seabase is also open in the winter. While the water is obviously a bit cooler then, on the plus side, it is also clearer. Did I take the plunge and swim with the fishes during my visit? I did not. But my qualms about getting wet shouldn’t come as a surprise. I did, after all, mention there are two types of people in this world. Those who hot tub and those who don’t. Being something of a nebbish introvert, the idea of spending some quality, scantily clad time with strangers in hot springs is, again, simply not my cup of warm saltwater. However, the well-traveled and entertaining owners did encourage me to come back to Seabase for a future dip, and I will admit I’m considering it. If this surprises you—given my militant “no hot tub” stance—rest assured, I have a good reason. You see, I checked Seabase’s calendar of upcoming events and one item caught my eye. I forget exactly what type of social function it is, but I did see some of the guests expected to attend. Blissfully, this list includes mermaids. And despite my reluctance to hang out in hot tubs, a pedicure from a molly mermaid may be a lure too impossible to resist. November October 2019 • Vamoose Utah | 19

Crystal Hot Springs


MAGIC MINERALS Crystal Hot Springs: This is the place to warm your bones BY REBECCA CHAVEZ-HOUCK


hen 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, 435-3390038,, 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

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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.


Get yourself into hot water at Crystal Hot Springs

November 2019 • Vamoose Utah | 21

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.


Year-round warmth at Crystal Hot Springs

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 22 | Vamoose Utah • November 2019

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, 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!

November 2019 • Vamoose Utah | 23


Morel Camp Wild Rice


Eating wild foods in wild places is a special experience STORY AND PHOTO BY ARI LEVAUX


met the wild ricer behind a ski lodge near Lake Tahoe. We were there for a writing workshop, reading each other our work. The wild ricer was a hunting guide in northern Wisconsin named Nick Vander Puy. He read about a father and son team of Chippewa Indians from inner city Milwaukee and their trip to a lake to collect wild rice, using cedar “ricing sticks” to knock the seeds into their canoe. Northern wild rice isn’t actually rice but the kernel of a large aquatic grass native to the lake country of Minnesota and Wisconsin, extending into Canada. Like the people of that northern landscape, it’s rugged and earthy, with more character than its soft, domesticated counterpart. Wild rice has a nutty tea-like flavor, and a texture that pushes back when you chew. Soon after the workshop ended, Nick got his story picked up by All Things Considered. The piece I’d brought to the workshop, a passionate essay about Christmas tree farms, never went anywhere, but I hung onto the idea of real wild rice and started cooking it. Wild rice became a window into wild foods, an area I wanted to explore. I joined the rice hunters vicariously in their expeditions when I ate it. I thought about their efforts not only to collect but process the rice, as the wild ricer described in his radio story: 24 | Vamoose Utah • November 2019

“The ricers get a fire going, under a propped-up galvanized wash tub. They pitch in several handfuls of rice, taking turns stirring the seed heads with a wooden paddle. The smell of burning plants fills the camp. This process, called parching, slightly roasts the rice, preserving it, and loosens the husk from the wild rice kernels.” Hand-harvested wild rice is hard to find and expensive when you do. Farmers have figured out how to cultivate wild rice in paddies, the same way real rice is grown. Today, almost all of the wild rice sold is paddy-grown and machine-harvested, mostly in California. To find the real wild stuff, you need to find a ricer who is willing to sell you some. The wild rice community is divided over this domesticated wild rice. Puy says the paddy-grown stuff isn’t comparable to hand-gathered wild rice, in terms of flavor, texture and overall performance in the kitchen. As a seller of wild rice and friend to many more, he laments the fact that paddy-grown rice has disrupted the market for the real stuff, which costs twice as much. Most people cook wild rice until it’s soft enough to eat, but some prefer to soften it with an overnight soak. Hand-gathered wild rice tends to soften (and cook) more quickly than pad-

Morel Camp Wild Rice

The cooking time for wild rice varies, depending on its provenance, with hand-gathered wild rice cooking much more quickly. Soaking wild rice overnight or even for a day or two in the fridge can reduce the cooking time to 5 or 10 minutes of boiling. Serves 6


1 cup wild rice 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 cloves of garlic, smashed 2 tablespoons pine nuts 2 cups chopped mushrooms (a mix of different varieties is ideal) 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds


dy-grown wild rice. However long it takes to soften, soaking wild rice is worth a try. The flavor of soaked, uncooked wild rice is milder than that of cooked wild rice. You can wash down your chewy mouthfuls with sips of the earthy, fragrant soaking water, like swallowing a pristine lake in the middle of the forest. For extra vibrancy, add a handful of pomegranate seeds. The juicy fruits will burst as you chew them with the hearty rice, adding their tartness to every bite, like little sips of wine. If the soaking method fails to soften the rice enough, you can always cook it. For years, my go-to preparation was to mix it, still hot, with smashed garlic, sesame oil and soy sauce, and garnish with chopped scallions. The heat of the rice cooks the garlic enough to remove the edge, for a flavor that’s exciting and comforting. It was the first thing my wife wanted to eat after she became a mother. When I’m cooking for someone who is harder to impress, I prepare a wild rice with mushroom dish I learned from a wild mushroom picker while camping near Montana’s Blackfoot River. Eating wild foods in wild places is a special experience that’s hard to replicate anywhere else. But even cooked indoors, on a stove top, with domestic ingredients, this dish will channel the wild side of rice in your kitchen.

Prepare the wild rice. Add a cup of wild rice and 2 cups of water (or stock) to a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Soak overnight. Then simmer on medium-low or bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes. Check progress. If the liquid is nearly gone and the rice remains hard, add more liquid. Keep checking, adding more liquid if and when necessary, until the grains split, curl and bloom like tiny brown and white flowers. Continue cooking until all moisture is gone, but don’t allow the rice to dry out. Combine butter and olive oil in a large skillet or wok on medium heat. Add the pine nuts and mashed garlic. Toss in the nuts and cook just until they start to brown. Don’t overbrown. If the pan gets too dry at any point, deglaze with cooking water from the wild rice. Add the mushrooms and stir. Season with the salt and pepper. When the fungus starts to brown and weep, add the cooked rice, stirring gently. Transfer the rice onto a large plate. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, and keep more pomegranate seeds on-hand to sprinkle on as a condiment. I like to take bites that are approximately half pomegranate seeds.

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The right gear keeps your dive deeply satisfying BY MEGAN WAGSTAFF


kiing and snowboarding are about to be on everyone’s minds this time of year but don’t forget about Utah’s other “S” sport: scuba diving. Whether you’re an underwater enthusiast or holiday shopping for someone who is, these top picks from local dive shops are must-haves for heading into the blue.

Kraken NR-700 Dive Light

This rechargeable 700 lumen light is a dive-instructor favorite, especially for Homestead Crater in Midway (as it happens, divers prefer to be able to see their surroundings). Compact and handheld, the Kraken NR-700 lasts up to 2 hours at a depth of 330 feet, with a convenient wrist strap to keep it from sinking into the deep. Plus, it comes with a mini USB-charger for your lithium battery and spare O-rings. $90

Dive Utah

4679 S. 2225 East, Holladay 801-277-3483

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Tilos Spawn Mask

When it comes to scuba masks, there are more options than there are fish in the sea. The pros at Scuba Utah love the Spawn from Tilos, a popular pick due to its “ultra soft silicone skirt, which fits a wide range of faces (narrow to regular).” Bonus: when you shop from Scuba Utah, they’ll guarantee your mask fits. We guarantee you’ll look good; the Spawn comes in lots of color. $65

Scuba Utah

1942 Fort Union Blvd., Cottonwood Heights 801-942-2100

BARE Wetsuits

An affiliate of local Utah company Huish Outdoors, BARE wetsuits are the brainchild of two divers from British Columbia. We say if these suits are good enough for the chilly waters of the Pacific Northwest, they’re good enough for us. And they’re good enough for Neptune Divers, where pros will help you find the right suit, starting at $300. Plus, with an all-female design team, BARE wet and drysuits are as fashionable as they are functional. $300 and up

Neptune Divers

2445 S. 900 East, SLC 801-466-9630


Get certified to dive in Utah

Where to get Open Water Diver certified in the Beehive BY MEGAN WAGSTAFF



eady to channel your inner Jacques Cousteau? Never mind that Utah is landlocked; there are plenty of places to scuba dive in the Beehive. But first you’ll need an Open Water Diver certification. Here are two places to get your feet (and a lot more) wet.

TUSA X-Pert Z-3 Zoom Split Fins

If you want to swim with the fish it helps to swim like a fish, which is why you need these best-selling fins for every dive, uniquely angled to create less strain on your legs as you kick (which also means you use less air in your tank). The split-fin design is based off a boat propeller and similarly propels you forward with such ease you’ll swear you traded your legs for a mermaid tail. Plus, struggling to put on your fins and adjust them is a thing of the past thanks to TUSA’s EZ strap and buckle system. $149

Neptune Divers

2445 S. 900 East, SLC 801-466-9630

Paralenz Dive Camera

You’ve heard the saying, “Pics or it didn’t happen.” The Paralenz Dive Camera ensures your search for Atlantis gets properly documented on the ‘Gram. According to The Dive Shop owner Mac Garrabrants, “It is the only camera on the market that automatically adjusts its color rendering based on the current depth of the camera. As a result, no filters or artificial light are required—all other underwater cameras require lighting, filters or post processing.” And if that doesn’t sell it, the Paralenz also boasts three hours of battery life and a tough, military-grade aluminum casing. $699

The Dive Shop

429 W. 500 South, Bountiful 801-295-5445

Neptune Divers

This full-service dive shop in the heart of Sugar House is a Vamoose top pick because of its small class size (six students on average). You’ll attend six lecture/pool classes, then complete six open-water dives over two days. In addition to all your scuba gear for classes and dives, your $400 tuition includes a mask, snorkel, fins and boot demo so you can try all the essentials before you buy, then shop for your faves and save with your student discount. Already certified? Locals can rent a 5-day, 6-piece scuba package including two air tanks, regulator with computer, buoyancy compensator, weights and wetsuit for $100.

Neptune Divers

2445 S. 900 East, SLC 801-466-9630

The Dive Shop

For a life aquatic that’s easier on the wallet, The Dive Shop in Bountiful will get you scuba certified for just $250. Supply your own mask, snorkel, fins and boots or sign up for their Internet Student Special Diver’s Kit and choose your custom-fitted gear for $175 (a $300 value). Certification entails four class/pool sessions and four open-water dives. Weber State and U of U students who register for Open Water Scuba Certification through their universities may also be eligible for additional discounts—and receive college credit!

The Dive Shop

429 W. 500 South, Bountiful 801-295-5445 November 2019 • Vamoose Utah | 27


Stone Hot Springs at Maple Grove

POOLS OF POSSIBILITIES Idaho’s Maple Grove Hot Springs is re-emerging as an off-grid retreat center BY JARED BLACKLEY


aple Grove Hot Springs looks a lot different today than it did when Jordan Menzel was first introduced to the place, just over a year ago. After years of use and neglect, the buildings and grounds were in urgent need of attention. In spite of the work that would be required, Menzel said, “the pools and the views were still immaculate. Even as a dump, there was something really magical about this place. This place was just one of those rare, special nuggets.” He was not the only one to think so. For centuries, the Shoshone used this area along the Bear River, with its large presence of geothermal activity, as part of their winter quarters.

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The idea is to run the business without having a negative impact on the land—to create a space of solace and calm. To that end, Menzel says, “[Maple Grove] is a fully off-grid retreat center that is designed to get people out into a remote setting in a comfortable way and to totally unplug. There is no cell service. There is no Wi-Fi. We explicitly don’t offer those things. We are re-naturalizing this place as much as possible.” He envisions the site to be a place of tranquility, where people who might otherwise be daunted by camping or staying in such a remote location can still feel comfortable. There are glamping options, including two yurts and a small cabin open year-round, as well as six round canvas bell tents that are open during the warmer months. All are furnished. There are also three designated tent campsites and two sites that can support a van or small camper. Several canoes and paddle boards can be taken out on the reservoir during the summer months. Visitors are advised to bring their own food, as only snacks are available at the River House at this point, but the site should have a farm-to-table café open by next summer. The hot springs hosts yoga, fitness and corporate workshops and retreats, as well as group experiences, such as small wed-

Maple Grove’s waterfall meditation


When Charles Hopkins homesteaded the land in the early 20th century, he built a couple of rounded soaking pools and a larger pool for swimming near the northern shores of what is now the Oneida Narrows Reservoir, including one pool specifically for the Shoshone, as racial segregation was still very much a reality. Today, the site has three rounded hot pools that average between 104 and 109 degrees and one larger recreational pool that averages between 85 and 100 degrees. From these pools, the views are sublime. Dense forests of Rocky Mountain juniper, maple and scrub oak line the hills for miles. Because of its remote location, the stars in the night sky are on full display. It is an ideal place to soak in mineral-filled waters, relax and recharge. When Menzel tried to return a month after his first visit, the hot springs had been closed indefinitely. When it went up for sale shortly afterwards, he saw an opportunity. He and four other partners ended up buying the place and immediately began restoration projects to make the site operable. The hot springs re-opened earlier this summer. “This place has seen a lot of turnover over the years,” Menzel says. “It is our goal to stop that cycle. Twenty years from now, I’d like this place to have accomplished some great things for the area and for the people who have come here.”

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Getting There

River House patio at Maple Grove Hot Springs


Pine the Cabin

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dings or family and friend get-togethers. In order to provide a tranquil experience, however, only a small number of people are allowed in per day. Showing up without a reservation, even for daily use, is discouraged, as you might be turned away. “We have tried to be very clear about what type of experience you can and can’t expect at Maple Grove,” Menzel says. If you want somewhere to drink a few beers and get a little raucous, Maple Grove is not the place for you. The experience Menzel and his team hope to provide is one of quiescence, of being connected to the elements, where the natural rhythms of the hot springs and surrounding area help allay the stresses and anxieties of daily life.

Maple Grove Hot Springs 11386 Oneida Road Thatcher, Idaho 208-244-0695


In Winter: From Preston, take State Road 34 for 22 miles to 13800 North in Thatcher. Take an immediate right onto North Maple Grove Road and drive for 3.3 miles to Maple Grove Hot Spring. In Summer: From Preston, take State Road 34 for 5.5 miles, then turn right onto State Road 36. Drive for 13 miles and then turn left on to the Maple Grove Hot Springs Road. Take this dirt road for approximately 2 miles before making a sharp left turn to Maple Grove Hot Springs.


LOOK Midway Crater Photo by Adam Barker

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Profile for Copperfield Publishing

Vamoose November 2019  

Where To Get Your Soak On

Vamoose November 2019  

Where To Get Your Soak On