Alaska Hot Springs - Relax & Unwind In Nature
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Alaska hot springs are perhaps more plentiful than you might expect. From the Interior all the way down to Southeast Alaska, with many stops in between, locals and visitors have lots of options to choose from when seeking a relaxing natural hot spring to unwind in. As with many things in the Last Frontier, the biggest caveat is, of course, accessibility. While the great 49th state has many incredible natural wonders, they aren’t always easy to access. So we pulled together a good list of both easily accessible and off-the-beaten path natural hot springs for you to choose from. Enjoy!
1 – Chena Hot Springs – Fairbanks, Alaska Founded over 100 years ago by two gold mining brothers, Chena Hot Springs is the most popular and most visited natural Alaska hot springs. It is located roughly 57 miles northeast of Alaska’s Golden Heart City of Fairbanks, near the Chena River State Recreation Area. Bring the family, load up your friends, or surprise your special someone and enjoy soaking in the large outdoor pools, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. If you’re lucky, you just might have the opportunity to view the brilliant colors of the aurora borealis dancing above you while soaking in the springs. [caption id="attachment_8881" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Wikimedia Commons[/caption]
2 – White Sulphur Springs - Chichagof Island, Alaska Located on the northern shore of Bertha Bay in Southeast Alaska, White Sulphur Springs is a remote wilderness site nestled in towering spruce and hemlock trees. A forest service cabin makes this area, roughly 65 miles northwest of Sitka, very popular for both locals and tourists. The views from the springs overlooking the ocean are unlike anything else in the world. Large brown bears frequent the area, so be sure to do your research before you go and be very vigilant in being aware of your surroundings. The island can be accessed by float plane, charter or personal boat, or kayak. [caption id="attachment_8874" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Joseph[/caption]
3 – Goddard Hot Springs – Sitka, Alaska These Alaska hot springs are located in Southeast Alaska 16 miles south of the city of Sitka on Baranof Island. The hot springs can be accessed by boat or floatplane. At the hot springs there are two modern cedar bathhouses for the use of visitors, and they are very popular all year long. This spectacular area is said to be one of the earliest Alaska mineral springs known to original European explorers. [caption id="attachment_8878" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Pinterest - Northwest Explorer Blog[/caption]
4 – Manley Hot Springs – Manley Hot Springs, Alaska Located at the end of the 152-mile long Elliot Highway, which begins at the town of Fox (10 miles north of Fairbanks), Manley Hot Springs is a charming little oasis in the woods. In a privately owned greenhouse full of exotic plants, choose from three concrete tubs to soak in, each of which are fed by natural spring water with varying temperatures. These private soaking tubs do require advance reservations so be sure to call ahead to check on availability before making the long drive. [caption id="attachment_8875" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Sean Salmon[/caption]
5 – Chief Shakes Hot Springs – Wrangell, Alaska With temperatures climbing up to a comfortable 122 degrees Fahrenheit, Chief Shakes Hot Springs is a very desirable attraction in Southeast Alaska. Nestled in the Tongass National Forest, the springs are located off of the Ketili River (a slough of the Stikine River). Once you arrive at the hot springs, which has two tubs (one with a screened in structure, one with a nice wooden porch), you can sit and relax in comfort. There is also a changing area, picnic table, and fire ring area to enjoy all the outdoor fun that your heart desires. This is a very popular attraction on evenings and weekends according to the Forest Service, who maintain two dry wilderness cabins just slightly upriver. [caption id="attachment_8870" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Facebook - Goodness Gracious[/caption]
6 – Baranof Warm Springs - Baranof Island, Alaska Located in Southeast Alaska on Warm Springs Bay right near Chatham Strait, is the supremely scenic Baranof Warm Springs. The small community and hot springs can be reached by floatplane from the city of Sitka. Nearby is the glacially-fed Baranof Lake. There are no roads in the area, no vehicles, and no access by marine transport such as the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system (but there is a small dock for boats). [caption id="attachment_8869" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Joseph[/caption]
7 – Kilo Hot Springs – Remote Location in the Ray Mountains, Alaska Kilo Hot Springs is another remote area located in a broad valley on the northern side of the Ray Mountains on the Kanuti Kilolitna River in the Interior. According to some visitors to the hot springs it is possible to land a small plane on the tundra approximately five miles away. Others have floated down the Yukon River from the Dalton Highway and hiked over 40 miles through the mountains to the springs. Needless to say, once you arrive at these Alaska hot springs, your body will be dying for the rest and relaxation that this remote hot spring will provide. [caption id="attachment_8880" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The Edventurers Blogspot[/caption]
8 – Tolovana Hot Springs – Mile 93 of the Elliott Highway, Alaska Located in Interior Alaska, Tolovana Hot Springs is among the ‘big 4’ hot springs in the northern region. The area offers comfortable rustic cabins with natural mineral hot springs for bathing. The springs are located 45 air miles northwest of Fairbanks and they can be reached via trail travel or bush plane. Visitors who make this trek should be advised to bring their own food and a warm sleeping bag. In addition to relaxing in the hot springs, area activities include hiking, canoeing, cross country skiing, bird watching, and more. [caption id="attachment_8882" align="aligncenter" width="393"] www.tolovanahotsprings.com[/caption]
9 – Serpentine Hot Springs - Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska This enchanting natural oasis is the most visited location in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, as the bunkhouse and bathhouse are both available for tourists to use year-round. The Serpentine Hot Springs pool reaches temperatures between 140-170 degrees Fahrenheit and has been used by Alaskan Natives for thousands of years. The constant supply of hot water makes this place a surefire destination for those looking to relax and unwind, with nothing but the sweet sounds of nature surrounding you. [caption id="attachment_8871" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Bering Land Bridge National Preserve[/caption]
10 – Tenakee Hot Springs - Chichagof Island, Alaska Located in a remote village in Southeast Alaska, Tenakee Springs is home to roughly 100 local residents. The area itself is oozing with rich history and charm, not to mention a splendid amount of wildlife viewing opportunities including eagles and whales. With no roads, no vehicles, and no cell reception in the area, visitors can sit back and relax in the natural therapeutic hot springs bath while completely unplugged from the outside world. [caption id="attachment_8879" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Tenakee Hot Springs Lodge[/caption]
11 – Kanuti River Hot Springs – Dalton Highway, Alaska This incredibly remote hot spring area is located 12 miles west of the Dalton Highway from mile marker 103. In the summertime, a lot of visitors enjoy the 14-mile scenic float (in a lightweight pack raft) down the Kanuti River from the Dalton Highway crossing. The hike in will take you up the the Caribou Mountain ridgeline, through thick forest regrowth areas from old wildfire burn sites. This is also a very popular area in the wintertime for cross-country skiers. The hot springs reach temperatures up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. For the best directions to access it, visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website HERE. [caption id="attachment_8872" align="aligncenter" width="960"] Flickr - Bureau of Land Management[/caption]
12 – Pilgrim Hot Springs – Nome, Alaska This ‘ghost town’ area is located on Alaska’s Seward Peninsula. It’s home to rich history, with early buildings in the area dating back to the early 1900s. Today it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, although many of the historic buildings have deteriorated over the years. But these Alaska hot springs are still as steamy and irresistible as ever, if you can handle temperatures of 178 degrees Fahrenheit. As you arrive at Pilgrim Hot Springs, you’ll be greeted by towering views of the Kiqluiak Mountains. Before visiting, check in at the Nome Visitors Center for directions and permits required. The 320-acre lot at Pilgrim Hot Springs is now owned by Unataaq, LLC, an Alaska Native corporation. [caption id="attachment_8873" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Geo Thermal[/caption]
13 – Shelokum Hot Springs – Ketchikan, Alaska These remote Alaska hot springs are located in Southeast Alaska, roughly 90 miles north of Ketchikan. It is nestled in the lush Tongass National Forest on the Cleveland Peninsula. To access it, there is a 2.2-mile trail that begins south of Shelokum Creek at Bailey Bay, and leads up to Lake Shelokum. There is a three-sided shelter that clearly marks the area. [caption id="attachment_8876" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - U.S. Department of Agriculture[/caption]
14 – Hutlinana Hot Springs – Mile 128 Elliott Highway in Alaska’s Interior This geothermal hot spring is located on the Hutlinana River in a remote location in Interior Alaska. There is no direct road access to this remote hot spring located about 150 miles northwest of Fairbanks. The trailhead is located at mile marker 128 of the Elliott Highway, although it is not clearly marked. This is a very off-the-beaten-path hot springs and the trail used to access it is said to be best after a winter freeze-up. [caption id="attachment_8877" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Pinterest - Glenn Persinger[/caption]
Remember that all of these Alaska hot springs vary in temperature, so be sure that you do your research before visiting so that you are safe and knowledgeable about the surrounding area.
Looking for more where that came from? You'll love learning about El Capitan Cave, Alaska's largest aboveground cave that will give you an enchanting middle-earth type of experience. Check out Matanuska Glacier: Visiting One Of Alaska's Most Amazing And Easily Accessible Places. You might also enjoy reading about the isolated places in Alaska where you can actually view Russia from your doorstep. This historic read on Portage - The Sunken Alaska Ghost Town That Nature Is Reclaiming is also quite interesting.
If you are living and loving The Alaska Life – share your adventures with us on our Facebook page HERE, and they might just end up getting featured in one of our next blog posts.
Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Are there any hot springs near Juneau?
Have you been there ?
There really isn’t, unfortunately. Closest is likely Fairbanks which you can drive to at least!
We are friends traveling in 5 RV’s around Alaska in mid May, 2020. Is it worth giving up a day in Denali to see the Chena Hot Springs? Is it easily accessible for 5 RV’s? Any input would be appreciated. Thank you!
Are they any hot springs near Ankhorage?
Where is Horner Hot Springs locates?? Thanks!
Manley Hot Springs is closed down due to owner death. No plans to reopen.
Folks got old; refused to sell out to Princess or the Japanese. I sure miss that place. Chena HS sucks by comparison. Circle was always worth the drive.
Circle was just a swimming pool with hot water. Went in 2004 and thought, "wtf, I guess it is bigger than a bath tub. Cheney’s is a boulder lined sandy bottom area (with a small pool and hot tub beside. Definitely a more pleasant go, and closer to F’banks….
What about the Klawasi Group of mud volcanoes with temperatures ranging from 110 to 115 degrees in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park?
What about Horner Hot springs…A favorite of mine!
None that I’m aware of :(
Circle hot springs has always been my favorite. It shut down many years ago. I miss it.
Are there any hot springs on the Kenai peninsula?
looking for one between glennallen and valdez - or McCarthy …. primitive O.K…..
It’s literally always that high. Get a taller wife lmao
Granite Mountian hot springs between Buckland and Koyuk, not easy access
We made the mistake of going to Chena hot springs when congressman Don Young was there. Don Young is a tall guy so they raised the water level up to impress him, I think, so much that my vertically challenged wife 4’11" had to walk on her tip toes to keep her mouth above the water line. She wasn’t very happy or relaxed afterward.
What happened to Circle Hot Springs??
Manley. Mind your stuff. Getting a little ‘methy’ up there, not like it used to be. Tolovana is a good winter trek.
This was a wonderful story on Alaska’s hot springs! I lived in Alaska for 8 years in the 1970’s. Was Program Director for Anchorage’s first country music station, KYAK AM650, the frequency now used by News-Talk KENI. My daughter lives in Homer, but I’ve lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia for many years.
Ring of Fire. We have a few warm springs in our general neighborhood too, but those wouldn’t make this list.
The Tenakee Springs photo implies the Hot Springs Lodge houses the springs. The lodge would be a nice place to stay if you visit Tenakee. The hot springs is, in fact, in the center of town and is contained in the “bathhouse”. It is free, nude bathing only, and has separate hours for men and women. Temps range from 108 -115 or so.
Hot springs in Alaska just doesn’t seem realistic ?