Located in the Fairbanks community in Alaska’s interior, the Chena Hot Springs is the most accessible thermal pool in The Last Frontier. In addition, it is the only hot spring resort in the entire state.
As such, it provides one of the most lavish accommodation options in the region and serves as the perfect soothing oasis after exploring the region’s more arduous attractions.
Complete with a myriad of onsite amenities and services, the Chena Hot Springs is perfect for leisure travelers looking for a comfortable and calm setting for their visit to Alaska. Along with the facility’s therapeutic spa and soaking pools, the resort also features offsite excursions and an extensive museum to explore the region’s culture, history, and daring landscapes.
From its array of onsite amenities provided to visitors to the best nearby attractions and offsite excursions, this is everything you need to know before visiting the Chena Hot Springs Resort, Alaska.
History of Chena Hot Springs Resort, Alaska
A pair of gold-mining brothers first discovered the Chena Hot Springs in 1905. Having heard that a U.S. Geological Survey crew had observed steam rising from a valley in the Upper Chena River but could not explore further, Robert and Thomas Swan embarked on their expedition to uncover the site the following Summer.
By that August, the brothers ascended Monument Creek and uncovered what would later become one of the most famous hot springs in the world the Chena Hot Springs. Development began at the site, and by 1911 the property featured twelve small cabins, a bathhouse, and a stable.
In over the century since the hot spring’s discovery, the Chena Resort has attracted millions of visitors from around the world and has undergone several renovations and additions to its extensive complex.
Today the Chena Hot Springs remain one of the world’s premier hot spring resorts and boasts a wide array of services and amenities that offer a tranquil escape from the cold and rugged landscapes of Alaska’s interior.
Attractions at the Chena Hot Springs Resort, Alaska
The Chena Hot Springs Resort is much more than a simple thermal complex. Instead, it is a full-service luxury facility that boasts several ways to engage with the region’s landscape, history, and world-famous mineral waters.
Hot Spring Pools
As it has been for over a century, the biggest draw to this rustic corner of Alaska is the hot spring’s natural mineral waters, renowned for their high mineral contents and therapeutic powers.
The Chena Hot Springs are fed from a natural underground water source that originated deep within the earth’s crust. Contained within the inner portions of the planet for thousands of years, the water accumulated the natural heat of the planet’s geothermal processes before shooting back up to the earth’s surface.
During their time flowing through the planet’s crust, the spring water absorbed a high concentration of minerals from the earth’s lower layers. In the Chena Hot Springs, these minerals include sulfate, chloride, and bicarbonate of sodium, renowned for their curative properties.
Today’s visitors can enjoy the Chena Hot Spring Resort’s healing mineral waters in an indoor heated pool or hot tub, or they can immerse in a more natural setting in the outdoor hot lake. Each of the pools and hot tubs features unique soaking options.
For starters, both the indoor pool and hot tub are chlorinated, while the outdoor hot lake features 100% natural mineral concentrations. Additionally, the indoor pool features slightly cooler temperatures that average around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, while the outdoor hot pool maintains a balmy year-round temperature of 106 degrees. All hot tubs feature temperature control capabilities.
While resort guests receive unlimited access to the bathhouse and outdoor pool, the Chena Hot Springs also invites day visitors to engage their natural spring waters. Day passes should be arranged before visiting.
For an even more enhanced sense of relaxation and rejuvenation, visitors should stop by the Chena Hot Spring Resort’s onsite spa, where they can enjoy a wide selection of specialty treatments and massages.
Engaging in the therapeutic properties of the natural spring water, the resort features a diverse catalog of treatments, including Swedish massages, deep tissue massages, hot stone massages, reflexology treatments, and aromatherapy.
The spa offers several special packages that range from 30 to 90-minute sessions.
Aurora Ice Museum
A unique attraction featured within the Chena Hot Spring Resort complex, the Aurora Ice Museum is famous as the largest ice environment in the world.
Created out of 1,000 tons of ice and snow sourced directly from the resort, everything in the museum was sculpted by champion ice sculptor Steve Brice. Within the extensive complex are several displays of truly remarkable ice sculptures. Exhibits include entire ice rooms, giant chess sets, jousting knights, and much more.
On top of its exhibits, even the facility is made of ice, including the chandeliers that provide light to the setting.
The Chena Hot Springs Resort features several eating and drinking options, including a restaurant, café, and beverage lounge.
A greenhouse-to-table experience, the Chena Hot Springs Resort Restaurant features several local and international dishes, all featuring fresh, locally sourced ingredients that accentuate the many flavors of the region.
Meanwhile, the Aurora Cafe is open 24 hours and serves a small selection of simple foods, including snacks, sandwiches, and a specialty coffee beverage. Also featured within the café is at Activity Booking Desk, which operates from 9 am to 9 pm.
Finally, visitors seeking a refreshing beverage should stop by the trails End Lounge. Serving several Alaskan and imported drinks, the lounge is a fantastic spot to reconnect with friends or engage with other guests visiting the springs.
Day Trip Tours
While the hot spring resort is an attraction in itself, the surrounding countryside of Alaska offers several iconic landmarks to explore.
The Chena Hot Springs offer several offsite excursions for venturing into the country, including a Sled Dog Tour of the region and even an evening tour to spot the allusive Northern Lights.
Accommodations Options at Chena Hot Springs Resort, Alaska
The Chena Hot Springs Resort features several visitor accommodation options, from simple campgrounds to luxury suites. The resort features a selection of RV and camping sites and even a traditional yurt on the property.
Unfortunately, these onsite camping options do not accompany swim passes; day passes must be purchased to use the facilities.
Meanwhile, the complex’s indoor accommodation includes simple lodgings, pet-friendly rooms, and even family suites. These more extensive accommodations also offer unlimited access to the hot spring pools.
Getting to the Chena Hot Springs Resort, Alaska
While the Chena Hot Springs can be accessed by private vehicle, the easiest way to reach the resort is by taking the shuttle service operated by the facility. The hour-long journey from Fairbanks features plenty of natural scenery, and visitors can often spot local wildlife along the route.
Shuttle rates start at $65 per person for a one-way trip, while round trips are $130 per person.