Friday, August 18, 2017

In Hot Water Again

A large steel dragon sculpture on the grounds of Chena Hot Springs

I love hot springs, and as we have traveled in our RV we have enjoyed a few. So, when checking out the map, and seeing that Chena Hot Springs resort was only 60 miles away from Fairbanks, and they had RV camping, we just had to go there for a few days. 

Monday morning, after Craig took the Jeep in to get an estimate and make an appointment to get the Jeep fender replaced, we were on our way for a few relaxing days. 

The first 30 miles of our drive to Chena Hot Springs was a bit rough with frost heaves and bumpy spots. There was just enough rain to kept the wipers going on low, and much of the time visibility on the sides of the road was poor because the grasses and shrubs were overgrown. We kept a sharp lookout for moose. It just felt like the kind of road a moose or bear might appear on unexpectedly and we didn’t want a collision. None were spotted.

We were both hungry when we arrived, and as soon as the Alfa was parked, we enjoyed a late lunch of grilled roast beef sandwiches in the very rustic restaurant at the Resort.  Very nice!

The weather Monday night and Tuesday was very strange.  Overnight, there was some of the heaviest, sustained rain that I can remember experiencing in the Alfa.  It just poured and poured.

When we woke in the morning it was still pouring.

Then around 10:30, it just stopped. It didn’t taper off or slow down. It just stopped, and the sun came out. So we decided to go over to the Hot Spring Pools.

I was delighted to see there were only a few people there. On Monday when we took a quick look, the place was packed!

Like most Hot Springs, there were a series of swimming and soaking tubs. A large very warm swimming pool with lots of minerals in the water and two hot tubs were inside. A larger, and much hotter tub was outside. As we cycled through them, I was a bit disappointed because I expected a more natural spring.

It was there, we just had to go through an enclosed passage to get to it.

Look at that blue sky! Can you believe it was pouring rain just an hour or so before this picture was taken? The weather was variable to say the least. It would pour for a while, then stop for a while and the sun would come blazing through.

You can't see the more natural pool from the front of the building. I think the enclosed passage is to protect the soakers from the extreme cold and wind in winter.

Over a two day period we went in the morning and evening, between downpours. The last three we went directly to the Stone Lake, skipping the indoor hot tubs. 

The water is waist deep, with a coarse sandy bottom that feels good on the feet. I saw a staff member measuring the temperature at an average place and she said it was 103°. There were numerous pockets of much hotter water around the edges where it was being pumped in and had not yet mixed. We were later told the actual spring measures 165°.

On Wednesday we went on a short, free tour of their geothermal power plant and hydroponic greenhouse.

The energy from the spring powers the buildings, and the hot water piped through the floors heats them.

In winter they use grow lights in the greenhouse.

We also went on a tour of their Ice Museum. 

It is kept at a constant 25°. Needless to say, we were all given heavy parkas to wear inside.

I heard there are several places like this in Scandinavia. There is also an Ice Museum in Fairbanks, that sounds quite similar. 

Craig chose to pass on wearing their parka, saying he was warm enough in his own clothes. Here he is standing next to one of the ice sculptures, holding the ice glass from his Appletini.  He said she was cold to him.

This is the raised ice bar area. The floors were all carpeted as were the bar stool seats. I think it looks better on this picture  than it did in person. Maybe that is because I took it when the twenty or so other people who were there were not in view.

The ice fire did not give off any warmth.

There were four chambers made up as bedrooms. Craig tried out one of the beds. Not as soft as in the Alfa!

All in all, it was interesting, and it did add to the Chena Hot Springs experience. The whole place feels just right for the mountain foothills near Fairbanks, Alaska.  It has a strong local customer base, and is open in winter to see the Aurora. You can soak in the hot springs and see the Northern Lights. 

I have collected their room rate and airport shuttle information for future reference. Maybe we will fly up for a few days in winter.

We have  noticed more and more trees starting to turn yellow-brown in the last week. As a lady at the springs said:"Summer is almost over".

Just a note. I think I have found a theme for our summer of 2018. Discovering "Hot Springs" in the Northwestern part of the USA. Maybe we can find some cool weather and hot water. Do you have any to recommend?

[From Craig]  This is one of the best places to get rained on, in all of North America.  Precipitation fans should not miss Chena Hot Springs!


  1. Crane Hot Springs. Sandy bottom, RV park is minimal, out in the middle of nowhere in the Oregon Outback south of Burns. Great place. We visited Chena bug didn't stay. Wish we would have had more time. Looks like a great spring. Another one, but probably out of your way...Ainsworth Hot Springs north of Nelson BC Canada. A favorite.

  2. You certainly are having a great adventure. Something that you will never forget. Thanks so much for taking the time to share it with us.

  3. So nice that you are taking the time to enjoy all the local places, doing Alaska the right way. The Hot springs looks amazing.

  4. Another great blog post Merikay. We'll put the Chena Hot Springs on our list for our next visit to Alaska.

  5. Go to Many, many hot springs in the state of Oregon. Beware, some clothing optional. Enjoy my home state!

  6. Just loving all your Alaska pictures! Just gorgeous! We won't be able to get up there for a couple more years once Steve retires. Sure looking forward to it though. Loved the ice palace. Never heard of one in Alaska.


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