Interior Alaska may get cold during the winter months, but residents know how to stay warm – dipping into Chena Hot Springs near Fairbanks.
About Chena Hot Springs
Chena Hot Springs Resort and the campground that surround it sit at the end of Chena Hot Springs Road, a forest-flanked paved road that parallels the Chena River, 56 miles east of the Steese Highway and Fairbanks, in Interior Alaska. From Mile 26 to Mile 51, drivers pass through Chena River State Recreation Area, a 397-square-mile preserve that includes the Chena River valley and nearby alpine areas. The recreation area is home to some of the best hiking, canoeing, public-use cabins and fishing in the area.
Although there are year-round residents in the area, Chena Hot Springs is a privately owned, 440–acre, year-round resort. Gold miners discovered the springs in 1905 and by 1912 Chena Hot Springs was the premier place to soak for residents in the booming town of Fairbanks.
Things to do
The springs are at the center of a 40-square-mile geothermal area and produce a steady stream of water that, at 165 degrees, must be cooled before you can even think about soaking in it. The facility has several indoor and outdoor tubs, Jacuzzis, an indoor family swimming pool and outdoor Rock Lake – a boulder-ringed artificial lake that provides a wonderful and relaxing vantage point for watching northern lights in winter.
Complimentary geothermal renewable energy tours are offered daily that showcase the resort’s renewable energy projects using geothermal power. In the summer, visitors also enjoy hiking, horseback riding, sled-dog cart rides, ATV tours, mountain biking, rafting, canoe trips, fishing for grayling, gold panning and even massage therapy. As if that weren’t enough, the resort is also home to the Aurora Ice Museum, the world’s largest year-round ice museum with its very own ice bar! From September to March, the resort is one of the best places in Alaska to view the northern lights.