Our Honest Review of Chena Hot Springs

This post may contain affiliate links.

When we visited Fairbanks, Alaska, we took a little detour to Chena Hot Springs. What a peaceful, relaxing experience! Although it can be pricey, especially for a family, we highly suggest visiting.

You won’t find just natural geothermal waters. It’s like a whole resort with hours of activities and entertainment. Let’s learn more!

Where is Chena Hot Springs?

Chena Hot Springs is located at 17600 Chena Hot Springs Road in Fairbanks, Alaska. It sits between the Chena River State Recreation and Steese National Conservation areas. Forests and mountains surround the hot springs.

From downtown Fairbanks, it takes a little over an hour to reach Chena Hot Springs. You just travel a simple route along Highway 2 West.

The entrance door to the main lodge at chena hot springs.

Is It Safe to Soak in Hot Springs?

When you visit Chena Hot Springs, you may notice a sulfur odor. This happens when minerals and rocks underground dissolve in the hot water. The Chena waters have one part per million of sulfur as well as traces of sodium, fluoride, potassium, calcium, magnesium, boron, lithium, and chloride.

Even though the waters here have been underground for thousands of years, they’re young compared to other geothermal systems.

So the minerals found in Chena Hot Springs aren’t completely dissolved. Because of this many people soak in hot springs. They believe the water contains healing properties because of the minerals.

The staff must test the waters of the outdoor lake regularly and submit those samples to the State of Alaska. They also drain the lake once a week and clean the rocks to prevent algae growth.

So although there are risks with getting into any type of natural water or public pool, visiting Chena Hot Springs is safe.

How Hot Are Hot Springs?

Hot springs vary in temperature. The springs where people can soak won’t be as hot as other geothermal systems. For example, in Yellowstone National Park, some vents report temperatures of 198°F or higher. This is why visitors must stay on the trails. It’s too dangerous to get close to these geothermal systems.

However, the average temperature for the Chena Hot Springs is a safe 106°F.

The indoor swimming pool maintains a 90°F temperature since a geothermal power plant powers it. Most natural hot springs where visitors enjoy soaking will be 105-107°F, a safe temperature for soaking for 10-15 minutes at a time.

Water spraying into the air at a hot spring.

7 Things to Do at Chena Hot Springs

Most people come to Chena Hot Springs to soak in the hot springs. However, you can do other things here. You can stay overnight, hike the trails, enjoy dinner on-site, and more!

Year-round tours and special activities are offered during the different seasons, like taking a dog sled or snowmobile tour in the winter or a horseback riding or ATV tour in the summer. We can’t list everything at Chena Hot Springs, so make sure to check out more seasonal offerings on the website.

1. Soak in the Hot Springs

Soaking in the Chena Hot Springs in the middle of beautiful Alaskan scenery is peaceful and relaxing. However, children aren’t permitted in Rock Lake. Guests must be at least 18 years old to soak in the outdoor natural lake.

A day pass includes access to the hot springs lake, an indoor heated pool, both outdoor and indoor hot tubs, the locker area, and shower facilities. An adult pass costs $20, and a children’s pass costs $17. 

The entrance/exit to the main hot spring at chena hot springs.

2. Spend a Night or Two Camping

You can stay overnight in a cabin, lodge room, yurt, or campsite. The campsites cost $20 a night and remain available from May 15 through September 15, on a first-come, first-served basis.

You’ll find no hookups, only a potable water and dump station on-site. You must still purchase a day pass to use the facilities and soak in the Chena Hot Springs.

A white truck and truck camper parked in the dry camping area at chena hot springs.

3. Explore the Hiking Trails

Relaxing in the healing waters at Chena isn’t the only outdoor activity. Several hiking trails range from easy to strenuous. Monument Creek Trail winds around the property and allows hikers, mountain bikers, and skiers. It’s a leisurely 3-mile stroll.

Ridge Trail (Upper Chena Loop) is a more challenging hike that leads you to beautiful views of the Chena hills. It travels about 2.25 miles one-way.

Angel Rocks to Chena is one of the most strenuous trails, climbing 1,900 feet. This 8-mile one-way trail takes you to breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys.

Keep in Mind: Looking for more activities in Fairbanks? We’ve got you covered on things to do with a three-day itinerary.

Our dog, Carmen on a rock overlooking the valley at chena hot springs.

4. Visit the Ice Museum

Have you ever wandered through an ice museum? At Chena Hot Springs, you can book a guided tour through the world’s largest year-round ice environment. It remains 25°F, so wear appropriate clothing when you visit.

The 45-minute experience includes visiting an ice chapel, an ice bar, and four hotel rooms. You can even order an Appletini served in an ice glass. Adult tickets cost $20, and children’s tickets cost $15.

An ice sculpture of a knight on a horse in a dual.

5. Take the Geothermal Energy and Greenhouse Tour

Visitors who want to see where and how the fresh produce served in the restaurant is grown will enjoy this tour.

Learn more about growing food in Alaska and walk through the geothermal energy plant. This 45-minute walking tour is free.

6. Book a Dog Training Tour or Chena Kennel Tour

If you want to meet some Alaskan Huskies, book a Chena Kennel Tour.

You’ll learn about this famous breed and visit a working mushing kennel. You can ask an experienced musher questions and learn all you want to know about this lifestyle. The 40-minute tour costs $25 per adult and $15 per child.

The dog training provides another option for visitors who want to experience mushing in an ATV. This 1.5-hour tour includes a ride in a side-by-side ATV with a team of dogs pulling you along a scenic trail. Adult tickets cost $50, and children’s tickets cost $25.

Pro Tip: Before you visit Alaska, make sure you pack correctly! Check out our tried and true guide for What to Pack for Alaska

7. Have Dinner at the Chena Hot Springs Restaurant

Enjoy fine dining at the Chena Hot Springs Restaurant. The “Chena Fresh” program includes lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and herbs grown in the greenhouse. The restaurant serves all three meals and stays open from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

You can order burgers, salmon, halibut, steak, soup, and salad. The bar inside the restaurant is called Trail’s End, and we loved it! The log cabin and middle-of-nowhere vibe were really cool.

The bar and restaurant ready for customers at chena hot springs.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Chena Hot Springs?

Chena Hot Springs stays open year-round. But if you’re looking to make a road trip to Alaska, the summer months are the time to visit. All of the attractions and tours will be open and fully operational.

You’ll have longer days with more sunlight and won’t have to worry about the dangers of icy road conditions.

Is Visiting Chena Hot Springs Worth It?

Chena Hot Springs was an enjoyable stop for us. But if you want to do everything they offer, this visit can be expensive. If you’re on a budget, you may not do anything except enjoy a day at Rock Lake.

Perhaps you can add one other activity to your agenda. But everything at Chena Hot Springs is worth doing — from the hiking to the ice museum to the tours to the restaurant.

The next time you visit Fairbanks, will you venture out to Chena Hot Springs?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Article
A man back flips off a rope swing into a water.

These Rope Swings in Mona, Utah, Are Perfect Places to Cool Down This Summer

Next Article
Close up of a red chair in one of Canada's national parks.

What Is the Significance of the Parks Canada Red Chairs?