When you picture a hot spring that is tucked away in the middle of mountains, the Fifth Water Hot Springs should be exactly what you think of. And if you’re tired of showing up to a hot spring only to realize it’s completely packed and not really that “hot”, then this is definitely the one for you! They are very remote (only accessible by foot), and they are hot (I’m talking 110F in some spots). This drastically differs from hot springs I’ve been to in Utah and in other countries where they turn the geothermal heated pools into spas and amusement parks (cough cough… Iceland). Best part is, you only have to drive 2 hours south of Salt Lake City, UT to get there. These hot springs are located in Diamond Fork, UT, passed the last bit of civilization in Provo and Spanish Fork. And trust me, the drive will be worth it!
I’ve been to these springs twice now, and both times I’ve had an incredible time. The first time we brought my buddy Brody, and the second time was with my parents. After turning off the main highway, you head down Diamond Fork Road, into the Wasatch National Forest, where the road begins to narrow and you end up at the parking lot. On busy days during the spring/summer, the lot can fill up quickly and you’ll be left parking on the side of the narrow road. But once you get the car situation figured out, you’ll head up the trail that follows two different creeks for a total of 5 miles. First you head along 6th water creek for about 1.25 miles and then 5th water creek for the last 1.25 miles. The hike is on a trail that is 90% smooth from all the foot traffic it sees each year, but it is entirely uphill for about 1,000 feet! Have no fear, my parents made it up there with ease… And they loved it too!
You’ll know you’re getting closer and closer to the springs by how much sulfur you smell in the air (a.k.a. farts). The first time we went in March, the smell was quite pungent, but by April, it barely smelled at all. Once you reach the springs you’ll be stunned. Other than the cascading waterfall at the top of the trail, there is nothing different about this section of the stream compared to the rest. Yet, this is where sulfuric vents open up to the surface, releasing off heat directly into the water. Thus, creating the hot spring effect. But don’t worry, it still is safe. I guess, the one thing I would warn about is the naked people. Not speaking from experience, but I’ve heard this is a pretty hopping spot for nude bathers during the early morning and evening hours. So just be prepared, unless that’s why your going. Then enjoy!
Since the natural tendencies of the water is to travel downhill, it leaves little time or room to enjoy the hot water. To remedy the problem, people have created pools to trap the hot water by piling up stones and boulders into circles. There are about 6 different pools near the top of the waterfall area for you to sit down and relax in. These are the hottest because they are directly fed by vents, which can range in temperatures between 110-100F. The water can get so hot, that it’ll turn your skin lobster-red if you sit in it for too long. The other pools mix more cold spring water in with the boiling hot water to have a much more tolerable experience. Even within each pool the temperatures can vary depending on how people have moved the rocks to redirect the cold water flowing into them. One time, we were in a pool that was relatively cold; yet, 5 feet away from us a man stood up and his skin was completely red from the stomach down because it was so hot. You just have to find the right spot that works for you! The further you move away from the waterfall pools, the colder the water temps will be.
Like I had mentioned before, this place can get extremely packed. It’s not uncommon to have to share a pool with a few strangers, but that’s all a part of the experience. If you want it all to yourself, good luck. I’ve heard people come here at all times of day/night throughout the entire year. But you’ll have better luck in winter since they close down the main road into the hot springs due to snow, requiring you to hike an additional 4.5 miles in an another 4.5 out to get back to your car. Odds are, you’ll probably have it all to yourself. But don’t worry, even on the most packed days, there will always be room for you and your friends up at the hot springs. Just don’t forget to bring, and drink, plenty of water. You’ll be severely dehydrated after soaking in hot water for an hour or two, and then you need to hike back downhill 2.5 miles to your car. On the way back down, there are plenty of places that are covered by trees to pull off the trail and have a nice lunch by the stream. Always a great way to cap of a day of adventure!
Also, you can 100% camp in the area. Which would probably increase your chances of getting the hot springs all to yourself!
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.