An hour’s drive from Fairbanks, Chena Hot Springs Resort is renowned for its natural hot-springs lake, year-round ice museum, and Northern Lights viewing opportunities. Discovered over a hundred years ago by gold miners who saw steam rising from the Chena River Valley, the curative waters have been soothing weary travelers ever since.
In addition to soaking in the hot springs and viewing the remarkable ice carvings in the Aurora Ice Museum, Chena Hot Springs Resort offers a wide variety of activities including dog sledding, skiing, and snowmobiling during the winter months and horseback riding, hiking, biking, fishing, and ATV rides in summer. Chena is well known for its Northern Lights displays, so choose a tour that specializes in Northern Lights viewing for your best chance to see the aurora borealis.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Make sure your gas tank is full, as there are few facilities between Fairbanks and Chena.
- Wildlife sightings are common on Chena Hot Springs Road, so keep an eye out for moose, bears, and beavers.
- Stop and explore the Chena River Recreation Area on your way out to the hot springs.
- Don’t forget to pack a swimsuit, towel, and change for the lockers.
- Bring along a hat and gloves for the Aurora Ice Museum tour; parkas are provided.
How to Get There
Chena Hot Springs is located 60 miles (97 kilometers) northeast of downtown Fairbanks. Just follow the Chena Hot Springs Road, which dead ends at Chena Hot Springs. If you don’t have your own transportation, reserve a spot on the Chena shuttle or book a guided tour from Fairbanks or the town of North Pole.
When to Get There
Chena Hot Springs can be visited year-round. For the best chance of viewing the Northern Lights, visit between August and May. For winter sports such as snowshoeing, dog sledding, and cross-country skiing, visit between December and April, keeping in mind that December and January see very few daylight hours.
Viewing the Northern Lights
Due to its geographic location and low light pollution, Chena Hot Springs is one of the best places in Alaska to view the Northern Lights. Dark skies are needed to see the lights, so visit from September through May when the skies are their darkest.