Chena Hot Springs isn’t a town, but it is definitely worth a soak!
Location: Chena Hot Springs is south of the Arctic Circle about 150 miles (as the raven flies), and about an hour’s drive northeast of Fairbanks.
Description: Chena Hot Springs is at the end of the Chena Hot Springs Road, northeast of Fairbanks. Natural mineral springs well up into an outside pool at 110°F and an inside pool at about 90° or so. Many believe that these waters have healing powers and come from around the globe to soak in them.
The Chena Hot Springs are part of the Chena Hot Springs Resort. Make your reservations ahead of time, rooms can be limited. There are two types of rooms available at Chena Hot Springs. The original rooms are a bit lacking in the extras department but comfortable. For a little more money, the newer rooms have all of the amenities required by the pampered visitor.
Chena Hot Springs Resort is nice appointed with antique farm equipment and original little log cabins.
What to do there: The Chena Hot Springs are amazing in the winter. After soaking in the inside pool for awhile, guests get their nerve up, count to three and walk, very quickly, to the outside pool, careful not to touch the railing as wet hands will freeze to it. Once in the outside pool, they relax, look up into the night sky and watch the northern lights.
More adventuresome visitors stay in the Ice Hotel at Chena Hot Springs. It’s pricey, about $200 a night per person. But the experience is one-of-a-kind. The entire hotel is carved out of ice. Four rooms in the hotel offer things like a bed carved from ice to look like a polar bear on its back. The beds are covered in caribou hides and down comforters. Take your after dinner vodka at the Vodka bar and sip it from ice glasses. Look around at the intricate ice carvings, an igloo and jousting knights in armor on their noble steeds. Watch out for the polar bear next to the bar—he’s life size!
For those who don’t want to sleep on ice, there are tours of the Ice Hotel throughout the day.
Chena Hot Springs offers hiking, horseback riding, ATV tours, biking, rafting, gold-panning and more during the summer season. During the winter season, Chena Hot Springs offers snow mobiling, hiking, cross country skiing, dogsled rides and horse-drawn-sleigh rides. Relax with a drink at the bar or have dinner in front of the fireplace.
How to get there: Drive the scenic Chena Hot Springs Road up from Fairbanks, fly into the airstrip, or bring your RV. There is a dump station and water available.