one day at chena hot springs resort

one day at chena hot springs

It’s been a minute since I posted, but between sports schedules, Spencer’s birthday this past Monday (he turned 9!!!), and my photography business picking up a smidge, we’ve been pretty busy! It’s about time, however, that I shared a little bit about my parents’ visit for Thanksgiving. It was such a lift for our little family, and it was so nice to spend the holiday with family for a change. So, we decided to treat them while they were here in interior Alaska, and we spent one day at Chena Hot Springs – something that was definitely on my Fort Wainwright bucket list!

All About Chena Hot Springs Resort

Chena Hot Springs, though located in Fairbanks, Alaska, is a solid hour+ from Fairbanks proper. The Chena Hot Springs were first discovered by gold mining brothers in August of 1905 by way of Monument Creek. Looking for a way to ease the pains of rheumatism, the found and established the first iteration of the Chena Hot Springs we know today and, by 1911, it featured cabins for visitors, stables, a bathhouse and, of course, access to the eponymous hot springs.

Over the years, the Chena Hot Springs grew in notoriety – in part because of the stunning backdrop of snow-capped rolling hills. The Chena Hot Springs are known around the world today for being relaxing, curative, and offering world-class views (and immersion) into what Fairbanks has to offer.

chena hot springs fairbanks

one day at chena hot springs

One Day at Chena Hot Springs

Though Chena Hot Springs offers a full scale resort complete with accommodations, dining, year-round excursions and, naturally, trips to the hot springs themselves, we simply wanted to spend a day lounging in the hot springs. We had a proper temperature drop the week of Thanksgiving, so we figured it was the perfect time to experience what the hot springs had to offer.

I expected that the hot springs would sell out, so we booked our day tickets about a week prior to my parents’ arrival, and I was excited to see that they only allow a certain number of visitors per day into the springs. Naturally, most people don’t spend the entire day in the hot springs, but it was nice to know that we wouldn’t be like little sardines in the springs either. The hot springs are located outside in the open air, but there is also a pool house with hot tubs, which definitely appealed to us, as well.

can kids go to chena hot springs

can kids go to chena hot springs

Can Kids Go to Chena Hot Springs?

Thankfully, I knew this well ahead of time, but children under 18 can’t access the actual hot springs or, as they refer to it, the “outdoor natural Rock Lake.” Kids can, however, make use of the indoor pool and hot tubs, as well as the outdoor deck hot tub with adult supervision.

Since we went with my parents, we had four adults and three children, which we knew would offer us all ample opportunity to swap out and give each of us time to enjoy the outdoor hot springs. The kids loved being able to swim in the cool pool indoors (they said it was 90 degrees…it definitely wasn’t) and alternate enjoying the hot tubs inside. Thankfully, they didn’t feel like they were missing out, and neither did we!

one day at chena hot springs

one day at chena hot springs

one day at chena hot springs

What the Chena Hot Springs Are Really Like

Ultimately, I’m really glad we had the Chena Hot Springs on our bucket list. But, like most things in Alaska, the hot springs definitely seem on the older side of thing, and the pool house and surrounding areas are definitely weather beaten and a bit on the older side of things…understandably, of course!

That being said, the hot springs were really, really nice! It was so cold out that there was hoarfrost on all the trees surrounding the outdoor rock lake, and the pool varied in depth from side to side. Some areas were really hot, while others were more comfortably hot, and it was nice that there were quite a few areas to perch on the rocks to cool off. I actually enjoyed that it was kid-free in the lake, too, because it was really quiet and serene and, though there were lots of visitors on the Saturday afternoon that we visited, it never felt crowded. We went to the onsite restaurant after we were finished at the hot springs, and I will say that we weren’t super impressed with the food. I’d recommend bringing your own, but that’s just my two cents.

chena hot springs kids pass

Tips for Spending One Day at Chena Hot Springs

Address: 17600 Chena Hot Springs Road, Fairbanks, Alaska 99712

Price: Seniors (60+) – $18; Adults (18-59) – $20, Children (6-17) – $17, Under 5 – Free with paying adult; towel service is $5 per day, and lockers are 25 cents – we paid for towel service just so that we wouldn’t have to keep track of towels or cart wet towels home

What Your Pass Includes: Passes include access to the adult-only outdoor rock pool, indoor heated pool, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, and use of the shower facilities

Other Things Onsite: There are additional excursions you can book onsite, including a tour of the ice museum, kennel tours, dog sled tours, snowmobile tours, aurora viewing, and more. There are also restaurant facilities onsite (no reservations available). Basically, it’s a full-scale – albeit old – resort that attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Hours: The hot springs/pool facilities are open from 7 AM to 11:45 PM. We got there promptly at 11 AM, and it wasn’t too busy. Though we had access all day, we felt pretty ready to go after about 2 hours.

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