Experience the unmatched allure of immersing yourself in a geothermal pool of soothing warmth after a grueling trek through freezing temperatures. Alaska, a land teeming with untamed wilderness, flourishing foliage, extraordinary wildlife, and a chilly climate, is home to captivating hot springs. With an impressive count of over 79 hot springs, only 20 are easily reachable.
Nestled within the Yukon River Basin and scattered across the enchanting islands of the Southeast panhandle, Alaska’s hot springs offer diverse accessibility options. While some can be reached exclusively by boat or plane, others beckon adventurers on exhilarating hiking trails.
From humble, rustic bathhouses to pristine, secluded pools hidden deep within the expansive tundra, Alaska’s hot springs cater to every preference. So, whether you seek the comforts of a resort-style arrangement or yearn to embrace the untamed, we present an extensive guide highlighting the most accessible hot springs to enrich your vacation in the 49th state of the country.
Chena Hot Springs
Chena Hot Springs is the premier destination among Alaska’s hot springs in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Maintaining a consistent temperature of 106℉ and a depth of 4 feet year-round, Chena Hot Springs offers a refreshing experience. The resort has ingeniously converted a reservoir to generate electricity to enhance its allure further. Once the water has cooled slightly, it is redirected to fill a swimming pool with a concrete floor and an outdoor pond framed by boulders featuring a sandy bottom.
Notably, the outdoor pool offers unparalleled vistas of the awe-inspiring northern lights. Accessible year-round, this remarkable resort is conveniently located just a 60-minute drive from Fairbanks. For a nominal fee of $15, visitors gain entry to the resort’s hot tubs, heated pools, and indulgent hot showers.
Chief Shakes Hot Springs
Chief Shakes, a renowned hot springs owned by the U.S. Forest Service, is situated in Southeast Alaska, about 28 miles northwest of Wrangell. It is nestled along the Ketili River within the picturesque Tongass National Forest. Visitors embark on a pleasant 0.3-mile hike from Hot Spring Slough to reach the hot springs. Once there, they can choose between two tubs, one featuring a screened structure and the other with a wooden porch.
Due to the absence of overnight accommodations, Chief Shakes experiences high footfall during weekends and holidays. But despite the bustling atmosphere, the hot springs provide changing areas, a picnic table, and an outdoor fire spot, ensuring visitors have a comfortable and enjoyable experience.
Manley Hot Springs
Manley Hot Springs is at the end of Elliot Highway, just northwest of Fairbanks, making it an ideal location for an Alaska hot spring experience. Since John Karshner acquired the property in 1902, Manley Hot Springs has become one of the most esteemed hot springs in the region, sitting on a 275-acre homestead. While here, you’ll be captivated by the picturesque vistas of mountains and valleys once explored by gold-seeking miners over a century ago.
For a smooth experience, making reservations for this exclusive destination is essential. Upon arrival at the oasis, you’ll be presented with a delightful choice: three concrete tubs supplied with natural spring water, each offering a different temperature. As you soak and unwind, you’ll be surrounded by the soothing presence of Asian pears, hibiscus flowers, and grapes, adding an extra touch of tranquility to your experience.
Baranof Warm Springs
On the eastern side of Baranof Island, near Chatham Strait, you’ll find the exquisite hot springs known as the Baranof Warm Springs. Situated in Warm Springs Bay, this natural wonder offers a breathtaking panorama of pristine forests and the glacial-fed Baranof Lake, making it one of the most picturesque spots in the region. The only drawback to this remarkable gem is the absence of paved roads, necessitating a floatplane charter from the City of Sitka.
Upon reaching the hot springs, visitors are treated to the soothing experience of soaking in lukewarm waters, with temperatures averaging around 120℉. Accessible after a half-mile hike from the head, nine separate hot springs are available for exploration and relaxation. And to cater to those who prefer a more private bathing experience, the hot springs feature a public bathhouse.
Goddard Hot Springs
Goddard Hot Springs, located on Baranof Island, 16 miles south of Sitka, is among Alaska’s original hot springs. Accessible only by chartering a plane or boat, these hot springs are well worth the effort. Within this serene setting, visitors can indulge in the soothing warmth of the naturally hot water, with temperatures averaging around 153℉, while surrounded by the seamless beauty of the surroundings.
Also, convenient boardwalks are provided, allowing guests to explore freely. Additionally, two modern cedar bathtubs are available year-round for visitors to relax and unwind.
Serpentine Hot Springs
Located within the boundaries of the Bering Land Bridge National Reserve, Serpentine Hot Springs has garnered traction as a site of profound spiritual rejuvenation, where Eskimo shamans and native healers have sought solace for countless centuries. This sacred place offers a haven for spiritual healing and modern amenities to cater to tourists year-round, including a comfortable bunkhouse and bathhouse.
As a result, Serpentine Hot Springs has become the most sought-after destination within the preserve. The majestic granite tors’ allure and the bubbling waters’ soothing melodies, which reach an impressive temperature of 171℉ (77℃), make Serpentine Hot Springs one of Alaska’s most enchanting and captivating locations.
Tenakee Hot Springs
Located 45 minutes from the remote city of Juneau, the hot springs offer a charming retreat. Initially constructed in 1900, the bathhouses have been meticulously restored and teem with a fascinating history. Open day and night, year-round, these hot springs provide a serene sanctuary.
Tenakee Hot Springs, devoid of paved roads or vehicles, invites you to indulge in a therapeutic soak. The mineral water flows in and out at a rate of seven gallons per minute, ensuring a constant supply. Before entering the rejuvenating waters, thoroughly cleansing the body with soap is a prerequisite. As clothing is prohibited in the springs, separate schedules have been established for men and women to partake in the refreshing 105℉ mineral baths.
Kanuti Hot Springs
Kanuti is a remarkably isolated destination, located approximately 12 miles from the Mile 103 marker on the west side of Dalton Highway. Nestled in a remote region, this scenic spot offers a plethora of activities for visitors. During the summer, one can indulge in a beautiful 14-mile float down the unspoiled Kanuti River, surrounded by breathtaking views. Kanuti transforms into a haven for hikers as the seasons shift, beckoning them to conquer Caribou Mountain’s trails and inviting cross-country skiers to glide through its winter wonderland.
The allure of Kanuti extends beyond its terrestrial adventures. It presents a wonderful opportunity for hikers to dust off their trusty, well-worn shoes and embark on a memorable journey, eventually finding solace in the invigorating temperatures of the local hot springs, ranging from 110℉ to 150℉. The surrounding beauty adds to the allure, making it an ideal setting to unwind and reconnect with nature. Furthermore, the Kanuti River is an idyllic swimming spot, attracting numerous locals who seek respite in its tranquil waters.
Whether nestled deep in the wilderness or conveniently located near towns and cities, Alaska’s hot springs present a therapeutic retreat where one can soak in mineral-rich waters surrounded by breathtaking vistas. These geothermal treasures offer relaxation and a testament to nature’s raw power and beauty. As travelers immerse themselves in the warm embrace of Alaska’s hot springs, they are reminded of the profound connection between humans and the natural world, leaving them with cherished memories and a renewed appreciation for Alaska’s wonders.