This Alaska Town Has Thermal Hot Springs in the Forest

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Have you ever heard of a place where you can relax in nature's hot tub? Not far from Fairbanks, you'll find Chena Hot Springs, where warm, mineral-filled waters are perfect for unwinding and easing stress.

What makes this spot really special is its surroundings. While soaking in the hot springs, you might get lucky and see the northern lights above, making the experience even more unforgettable.

This place is great for a family trip or just some alone time, offering a one-of-a-kind way to chill out in Alaska's great outdoors.

History and Discovery

Discovered over a century ago, these hot springs have a storied past that begins with Alaska's indigenous peoples, who held the springs in high regard due to their therapeutic qualities.

In 1905, while searching for gold, two brothers named Robert and Thomas Swan came across the hot springs by chance. They were investigating stories about steam seen rising from a valley near the Chena River, something that a team of geologists had mentioned just a year before.

The brothers recognized the site's potential, and it wasn't long before the springs became a sanctuary for weary miners seeking respite from the harsh climes.

Over the years, the springs evolved from a simple rest stop for gold seekers into a reputable resort. Today, Chena Hot Springs attracts visitors from around the globe, eager to soak in the mineral-rich waters and enjoy the surreal Northern Lights.

The Hot Springs Experience

Chena Hot Spring on the top of mountain during winter in Alaska, USA

Visiting the Chena Hot Springs means immersing yourself in a unique blend of relaxation and adventure in the scenic Alaskan wilderness. 

Outdoor Rock Lake

The outdoor rock lake stands as a centerpiece of the hot springs experience, inviting guests to immerse themselves in its soothing waters amidst a landscape of snow-capped trees and clear, starry skies.

This natural pool, crafted from the surrounding rocks and earth, harmonizes with the environment, providing a serene and authentic soaking experience.

Indoor Options

If you prefer a more sheltered experience, Chena Hot Springs also provides indoor soaking options. These facilities allow guests to enjoy the hot springs' benefits year-round, regardless of the weather outside.

A Night Under The Northern Lights

For a truly magical experience, plan your visit during winter when the Northern Lights often grace the night sky.

The spectacular display of colors adds an otherworldly quality to the hot springs experience, allowing you to bask in the warm waters as the aurora borealis dances overhead.

Activities and Attractions

Chena Hot Springs offers more than just rejuvenating thermal pools; it also offers a captivating array of activities. Whether you're seeking adventure or relaxation, this enchanting destination has an experience tailored just for you.

1. Year-Round and Summer Adventures

The warmer months at Chena Hot Springs bring the wilderness to life, offering a range of activities that let you explore the vibrant landscape under the midnight sun.

Aurora Ice Museum Tour

Ice Museum at Chena Hot Spring in Alaska during winter

Step into a chilling wonderland at the Aurora Ice Museum, where the temperature is a steady 25°F. Here, you can marvel at the intricate ice sculptures in an icy gallery, open year-round.

China Kennel Tour

Visit the Chena Kennel, where friendly Alaskan huskies await. Learn about Alaskan dog mushing culture and meet the canine athletes that power this traditional Northern sport.

ATV Tour

Feel the rush of adrenaline on an ATV tour. Traverse the rugged terrain of the Alaskan wilderness and take in breathtaking views as you navigate trails designed for thrill-seekers.

Side X Side ATV Tour

Pair up for a Side X Side ATV Tour. These two-seater vehicles promise double the fun and allow you to share the exploration with a friend or family member.

Horseback Rides

Unwind with horseback rides along serene trails. Saddle up for a leisurely tour through the picturesque forest landscape on horseback.

Dog Cart Ride

Experience dryland mushing with a dog cart ride. This summer activity gives you a taste of dog sledding without the snow but with all the excitement.

2. Spring and Fall Adventures

The shoulder seasons offer their unique charm, with activities that make the most of the changing landscapes.

Dog Training Tour

Get an insider's look at the training that shapes Alaskan sled dogs into resilient mushing professionals. Understand the dedication behind this honored Alaskan tradition.

3. Must-Try Winter Activities

When snow blankets the ground, Chena Hot Springs transforms into a winter wonderland, offering a different set of thrilling activities to enjoy in the crisp air.

Aurora Viewing Tour

The aurora at Chena Hot Springs Resort.

Seek the mesmerizing Northern Lights on an aurora viewing tour. Chena Hot Springs is known for its optimal conditions to watch the aurora borealis dance across the sky.

Dog Sled Tour

Embark on a dog sled tour and let the powerful huskies guide you through powdery snowscapes. Feel the magic of gliding over the snow as the dogs easily pull your sled.

Snowmachine Tour

For the snowy months, hop onto a snowmachine. Glide over the snow-covered grounds and immerse yourself in the wintry beauty that surrounds Chena Hot Springs.

Planning Your Visit

A visit to Chena Hot Springs Resort requires some planning to ensure you make the most of your Alaskan adventure.

Best Times to Visit

Winter months, from December to March, present a sparkling snowy landscape and the chance to witness the Northern Lights while soaking in the geothermal waters. With temperatures around the springs remaining consistent, winter bathing uniquely contrasts hot and cold.

For a more serene soak, consider September to November or April to May. The transition seasons are less crowded and boast the beauty of changing foliage.

Daylight extends for your exploration of the surrounding forest. Plus, the shoulder season can offer milder temperatures for outdoor activities.

Midsummer, especially June and July, promises near 24-hour daylight known as the Midnight Sun. This can be an extraordinary time for hiking and wildlife watching in the lengthy Alaskan days, but remember, it's also peak tourist season.

Plan for accommodation as the resort can fill up quickly during these months.

You can learn more about available booking options here.

What Are the Accommodations?

If you want to stay the night, options range from cozy indoor rooms to rustic cabins offering a more immersive Alaskan experience.

The resort features modern hotel rooms that ensure a comfortable stay with amenities like Wi-Fi and access to indoor bathrooms.

For a more unique stay, opt for a signature yurt or a charming Moose Lodge, nestled among the trees for privacy and tranquility. These accommodations offer the true Alaskan wilderness feel with the comforts of home.

What they offer:

  • Moose Lodge: Comfortable hotel rooms near the resort's main facilities.
  • Fox Rooms: Secluded and quiet rooms offering a peaceful retreat from the main lodge.
  • Bear Family Suites: Spacious suites with separate bedrooms and a living area, ideal for families or groups.
  • Cabins: Rustic cabins are nestled in the woods, providing a cozy and authentic Alaskan experience.
  • Camping & RV's: Designated camping and RV parking areas for a closer connection to nature.
  • Yurts: Traditional circular tents with basic amenities, offering a unique and comfortable camping experience.

Getting Through and Around Sitka

Navigating your way through and around Chena Hot Springs Resort and its surrounding areas is essential to planning your trip.

Here's how you can make the most of your visit, whether staying on-site or exploring the nearby attractions.

Getting To Chena Hot Springs

  • From Fairbanks: The primary route to Chena Hot Springs is via Chena Hot Springs Road, which starts in Fairbanks. It's a scenic 60-mile drive that takes about 1.5 hours.
  • Shuttle Service: For those without a car or who prefer not to drive, shuttle services from Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs are available. Check with the resort for recommended services and schedules.
  • Rental Cars: Renting a car in Fairbanks provides flexibility and convenience for getting to the resort and exploring at your own pace. Choose a vehicle suitable for seasonal road conditions.

Exploring Nearby Attractions

  • Driving: If you've rented a car, you can explore the attractions beyond the resort, such as the Angel Rocks Trailhead, the Chena River State Recreation Area, and other scenic spots along Chena Hot Springs Road.
  • Guided Tours: The resort often offers guided tours to nearby attractions, including dog sledding expeditions, snowmobile tours, and hikes. These tours provide a hassle-free way to explore the area with the expertise of a local guide.

If you plan to see more of Fairbanks, we've got a list of must-visit attractions here!

Explore Chena Hot Springs!

View of the Chena Hot Springs Resort near Fairbanks, Alaska

Whether you're a nature enthusiast or simply looking for a unique way to relax, these hot springs promise a memorable and revitalizing escape from the everyday hustle.

So pack your bags and prepare for an Alaskan getaway that'll leave you refreshed and inspired!

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