For more than a century, people have been heading to Chena Hot Springs to soak up the mineral springs. Today, they also can tour ice carvings and geothermically heated greenhouses and ride behind a team of sled dogs. All are open year-round.
The resort opened Memorial Day weekend this year after being closed two months due to concerns about the coronavirus.
According to Javier Villasenor-Gaona, Chena Hot Springs Resort’s director of advertising, marketing and sales, the resort’s facilities are now all open with regular hours.
“We’re a little understaffed, but we’re still open regular hours for the hot springs,” he said in early June. “We can’t say it’s back to normal, but it is open.”
The resort is self-contained and sustainable in a number of ways. It includes its own restaurant, cafe, ice museum, cabins, hotel and saloon.
For many years and in many cultures, mineral spring waters have been considered to possess healing properties.
With all the COVID-19-related travel restrictions, Villasenor-Gaona said that the resort is open just like it used to be but is expecting to be visited by mostly locals.
The resort will continue to follow all state government mandates and guidelines that are issued.
The resort lies 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks at the end of the paved road that bears its name. It is renowned for the amazing aurora borealis displays overhead in the winters. The aurora isn’t visible under the midnight sun, but there are plenty of other activities.
Chena Hot Springs Resort adds a number of amenities to the naturally occurring springs, including an indoor pool ideal for kids and hot tubs. The resort features about 80 rooms and family suites in its Moose Lodge as well as cabins and camping areas. Several hiking trails lead into the hills surrounding the resort.
Other attractions include an activity center, a disc golf course, bike and canoe rentals and horseback and all-terrain-vehicle tours. A sled-dog kennel offers cart rides.
For day-trippers, a dip in the pool is $15, or a family punch-card with 10 slots is $100. The resort is also home to the world’s largest year-round ice structure — the Aurora Ice Museum. The ice museum was created from more than 1,000 tons of ice and snow and was completed in January 2005. It is kept at 25 degrees year-round and is filled with spectacular ice carvings. Parkas are available to wear, free of charge. Ice museum visitors 21 and over can also sample an appletini in a carved-ice glass for $15.
While visiting the ice museum, chilled to 20 degrees in the summer, people can take an ice-carving class and go to the ice bar for a drink in an ice glass. The resort’s website includes information on its accommodations and openings as well as pictures of the hot springs in both summer and winter. Special online-only deals are often posted on the resort’s website: www.chenahotsprings.com.
Much of the food served at the resort is grown in its greenhouse on site, and much of the rest is locally sourced from Interior Alaska. The greenhouse, like the springs, is heated geothermally.