This was an awesome experience that we thoroughly enjoyed. First off, our guide Randy was just awesome. He's like a walking talking Wikipedia for all things Alaska. I spent the entire hour or so each way on the road talking to him and she shared his experiences in the outdoors in and around Alaska. His knowledge of the area and history is extraordinary and he made the drive to and from Chena very enjoyable. He also facilitated all the events on the tour well, and even helped us get seated quickly at the very busy that night at least restaurant. Seriously.....Randy is an A guide for this and I give him my highest recommendation and thanks!
Beyond that.....here's what to expect. You and the other guests are picked up from the area hotels around 4:30 PM. You'll take the hour or so drive up to Chena. If you're in the front seats of the van speaking with Randy or the other guides is easy. But if not, he often picked up the microphone to address the entire van on points of interests. Once there, everyone congregates in the activity center building. And then the fun begins, and there are a few highlighted events that happen in this order:
1 Tour of the Ice Museum and Ice Bar
- This was pretty cool. Numerous ice sculptures, the ice bar, and you can purchase Appletinis in a souvenir ice glass for 15 a pop. You can keep the ice glass if you can figure out how to get it back home without it melting.....LOL. But you've got about an hour enjoy your drink and roam around the little ice museum.
2 Dinner at the Chena Hot Springs Resort restaurant.
- Nice mid-scale restaurant with a rustic atmosphere. Most entrees on the menu are in the 20-30 range, with everything you'd expect including beef, seafood, and chicken. Salads, sandwiches and burgers are also available if you don't want to go for the full dinner. We met and got to know few other of the tourists and enjoyed a very fun filled dinner with them!
3 Dip in the outdoor Hot Springs and indoor pool if you so choose
- This optional, but this is why you're encouraged to bring swim gear. I'm not usually a hot springs or pool type of guy, but this was very enjoyable. There is a locker room to store your stuff and you can hit the indoor pool if you choose. But the main attraction is the outdoor hot spring pool. It's rock lined and very natural....and it's nice and warm. It's only a 30 second walk through a covered area to the hot springs....so the cold doesn't bite you too bad before you get to the hot spring pool. And once you're in....it's heaven. We had a bout a 10 degree night.....and we were nice and warm in the hot springs...warm enough that we stayed in for nearly an hour. You can't really enjoy the stars or Northern Lights from here though because of the steam. At least on our night.
4 Relaxation and Northern Lights Aurora Borealis viewing
- By now it's about 11 pm, and you've got the next three hours to do as you please. Most of the group heads back to the activity center where there are refreshments and a small bar...and also the small indoor viewing room for the Northern Lights. Or you can head outside and set up your camera if you want to take some pictures. On this night the Lights weren't super actuve, but they did come out to play a little and I was able to capture some. My pictures were all shot with my cell phone Samsung Note 5, so here is proof the lights can be captured without a fancy camera....just get an app that allows you to manually adjust you camera settings ISO, aperature, etc. They won't be postcard material, but they will be good memories. Mine could have been even better if I would have got my tripod setup...but I didn't....so they're a but blurry. Regardless.....we got some nice memories captured.
And that's it. You'll head back at about 2 am in the van to take all of the guests back to each hotel....and you should be back at yours somewhere around 4 am.
We'll certainly do this again. Enjoy!
Includ something to eat
We had a good experience with the Northern Lights and Chena Hot Springs Night Tour. The driver was on time, friendly and informative. He stayed accessible during the entire time we were at Chena which meant he could watch our backpacks while we were wandering around or at the Ice Museum.
Private hot spring under the stars, good food at their restaurant, and a view of the Northern Lights over the darkened hill behind the Activity Center. Splendid.
This was WAY TOO expensive for what it was.
Entrance fee for the springs is 15 per person, for the ice museum 15 per person. That makes it 60 for 2 people.That means, we paid ONLY for the driver and ride about 130 Miles return trip 300!!
Yes, it was a night trip, but still.........
The driver was friendly, but due to the noise of the car, we-in the back- barely understood anything of what he was saying.
Furthermore, food was not included. which was not offered, but for THAT price.....
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