Northern Alaska is known for its wild and rugged landscape, and Chena Hot Springs Resort is one of the most fascinating places for family travelers to experience it. Located about two hours northeast of Fairbanks, this fascinating destination offers families the chance to experience Alaska’s wilderness with both traditional outdoors activities and unique experiences, making the resort truly unique.
The resort is centered around a natural hot spring that produces enough heat to power the entire resort. Everything is powered year-round by geothermal electricity. As a result, temperatures indoors remain steady at an even 80–85 degrees. Many visitors enjoy sleeping with their window up in the middle of the Alaskan winter. In fact, there is enough energy harnessed to power the resort’s own greenhouse, which grows enough food to keep the resort’s on-site restaurant stocked with fresh vegetables throughout the year. Upwards of 26,000 heads of lettuce are harvested each year, and tomatoes grow so well in these conditions they are harvested every two days. It goes without saying the salads at Chena Hot Springs are always fresh and delicious! Tours are available of the greenhouse and are a great way to introduce kids to greenhouse food production and the extraordinary powers of geothermal energy.
During your stay, there are plenty of fun activities for the family. During the summer months, you can enjoy invigorating hikes along local trails, take ATV rides through the wilderness (for ages 16 and up), enjoy a horseback ride or visit Chena Kennel to meet the sled dogs. The winter months are perfect for ice fishing, snow machine tours or dog sled tours. The resort has thought of every amenity to make sure you enjoy the seasonal activities. Snowshoes and ice skates are available on site for rental and the sub-arctic ice-fishing experiences include fishing gear and an experienced guide, so anglers of any skill level are welcome.
The hot springs are available year-round, with the water always warm and relaxing for a revitalizing swim day or night. In the summer months, the surrounding wilderness is a dazzling display of greenery, while in the winter months, the aurora borealis lights up the night sky. If you don’t want to partake in a geothermal spa experience while you observe the aurora borealis, you can head up to the resort’s aurorarium, its heated yurt, to view the phenomenon.
One of the resort’s highlights is its museum crafted entirely of ice. Aurora Ice Museum, designed and built by former ice-carving world champions, is home to many larger-than-life exhibits, including a castle turret, fireplace and a small wedding chapel, just to name a few. Forty-five-minute tours of the museum are offered daily and include a special treat for mom and dad — a complimentary appletini served up in a martini glass made of ice. Skilled artisans at the museum carve these masterpieces right in front of you in the workshop, completing each glass in about a minute. Once you’ve enjoyed your drink at the cocktail bar carved completely from ice, be sure to make a wish as you smash your glass on the ground outside after the tour.
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