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In case you haven’t heard, Kate and I spent the weekend at Chena Hot Springs Resort. Kate posted yesterday. We had a few problems, but only one would really be the ‘fault’ of the resort. Most of the photos have been posted in flickr here.
This place is a great winter stop. There are an incredible amount of activities to do here. You can hike, snowshoe, cross-country ski, take a dog-sledding ride, learn how to dogsled, snowmachine, and (of course) the obvious soak in the hot springs. There’s a lot of historic vehicles and gold mining equipment around the parking lots. In the summer there are campsites and yurts (but no winter activities). You can always tour the Ice Museum year round. There is an aurora viewing area that they will take you to in a snowcat. You can sit inside to watch when it gets really cold. The resort is powered by geothermal energy and they offer ‘geothermal tours’.
It’s about a sixty mile drive from Fairbanks. In the winter the road will be covered in snow and ice. You can be like me and imagine you are an Ice-Road Trucker, or take a shuttle that the resort operates. The drive is beautiful along the Chena River. Angel Rocks and Granite Tors are along the way.
While it’s not cheap to stay here or eat here, the rooms are comfortable and the restaurant is cozy with good food. If you just come out for the day you can soak in the hot springs for $10, or just walk around for no charge.
If you have a forty-below night, make sure before you go to bed that your car is plugged in. They have around eighty rooms, but only about 15 parking spaces with outlets. The staff was not helpful in making sure we had a spot (or many of their other guests). The result was many upset guests in the morning trying to get cars started and staff running around with extension cords (they tried to sell us one, which was pretty bad taste on their part). Cold nights are nothing new here, I can’t imagine they operate like this all the time. With packages running $200-$700 this was a little upsetting.
Don’t let this stop you though, the area is beautiful, the resort is historic yet modern, and the hot springs are awesome. It’s worth it to go on a forty below night just to walk out there in a swimsuit and slowly wade into the pool. The steam from the springs freezes on everything and makes it a total ‘winter wonderland’. Our room was great; everything was great they just need to work on their logistics. You can get to the resort website here.