Want to soak in a pool of steamy mineral water heated by the Earth itself? Alaska boasts at least known 20 hot springs, generated by the state’s far-flung geothermal reserves from ancient volcanic action. They range from rustic community facilities (think bath houses in old buildings) to hardly touched pools in the wilderness, with most found in the Yukon River watershed of Interior Alaska or on certain islands in the Southeast panhandle.
Where Are They?
Many of the remote springs are located deep in the forest or tundra, or along the shore overlooking the ocean, and require wilderness treks or charters to reach. But once you solve the logistics and make the journey, you may find yourself relaxing in a geothermal paradise that has pioneer or Alaska Native heritage—sometimes totally alone, surrounded by lush greenery in summer or rising steam over glittering snow in winter.
Chena Hot Springs (Fairbanks)
Chena Hot Springs serves as the state’s marquee hot pool. Located at a privately run resort at the end of Chena Hot Springs Road about 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks, it has long been one of the most popular destinations—winter and summer—in the Interior. The reservoir has been tapped to generate electricity for the resort and emerges from ground at a scalding 165 degrees Fahrenheit. After it cools a bit, the water fills both an inside concrete swimming pool and an outdoor pond rimmed by boulders and featuring a sandy bottom. The outside pool—open even during frigid, sub-zero cold snaps—is famous for winter views of the northern lights. Visiting Chena can be done as a day trip from Fairbanks or as part of a longer stay at the resort.
Manley & Tolovana (Fairbanks Area)
Other hot springs on the Fairbanks-area road system include Manley Hot Springs (in a private greenhouse about 156 miles from Fairbanks on the Elliott Highway) and Tolovana Hot Springs, at the end of a 10-mile trail off the Elliott Highway about 93 miles from Fairbanks. Tolovana is very popular as a doable backcountry destination for skiers or snowmobilers that doesn’t involve expensive air charters.
Pilgrim Hot Springs (Nome)
In the Nome area, check out historic Pilgrim Hot Springs, about 60 miles from town down a rugged 7-mile gravel road off the Nome-Kougarok (Nome-Taylor) Road.
Tenakee & White Sulpher Springs (Southeast, Alaska)
In Southeast Alaska, visit White Sulphur Springs on the coast of Chichagof Island, just a short boat ride from the fishing outpost of Pelican (about 60 miles west of Juneau.) Or try Tenakee Hot Springs, in a coastal hamlet on Tenakee Inlet, also on Chichagoff Island, about 50 miles southwest of Juneau by air and 140 miles by boat.
Hot Springs Directory
Interior & Arctic
Chena Hot Springs Resort operates a big indoor pool and handsome outdoor wading lake, all of it constantly replenished by pungent mineral spring water that rises from the earth at about 165 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s probably the most accessible and popular hot springs in the state, and it’s a snap to visit as a day trip from Fairbanks.
The hot springs provides heat to a private greenhouse, supporting tropical plants and lush greenery. Three concrete tubs offer a chance to soak in the soothing mineral water. To make arrangements for a visit, contact the Hot Springs Bathhouse where for $5 you can soak amid the splendor of grapes, Asian pears and flowers
Pilgrim Hot Springs is a green oasis for Nome residents who yearn for trees and the sound of leaves rustling in the wind. Pilgrim has historic value too, first as a gold rush resort and later as a Catholic mission. Then there are the springs themselves. At 178 degrees F, they are a literal hot spot in the Arctic north.
Located on Hot Springs Creek, 30 miles northeast of Ruby. There is a group of 20 or so springs along the creek. A 1911 U.S. Geological Survey team reported finding a 2‑room cabin and 2 small bathhouses on the springs. Today, Melozi Hot Springs is the site of a private fly-in wilderness lodge; phone (907) 892‑6987. Temperature 131 degrees Farenheit
Local natives first used the hot springs for its medicinal purposes and it wasn’t until the early 1900s that the people of Ketchikan began venturing into the healing waters. Since then, the property has changed owners numerous times. Temperature 125 to 175 degrees Farenheit
Located within Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. The waters of Serpentine Hot Springs have long been sought for their healthful properties. Eskimo shamans gathered here in earlier times. When the influence of the shamans had passed, Native healers still relied on these waters to help their followers. Likely the most visited area of Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Serpentine still offers a soothing break from the harsh surrounding… ...more
Located 20 miles east of Sitka on the east shore of Bararnof Island. A private hot springs bath is located on Warm Springs Bay (status unknown). Accessible by boat or floatplane. A Forest Service trail extends a half mile from the hot springs to Baranof Lake where a cabin is located. Cabin access is by floatplane. It is not possible to hike from the springs to the cabin. Temperature 124 degrees Farenheit
This seldom-visited carbonated “soda” springs is located on the west coast of Prince of Wales Island about 12 miles southeast of Craig. Access is by boat. Rubber boots are advised for this hike. This is bear country; exercise caution, particularly when salmon are spawning. The springs are reached by walking up a nameless creek that has its outlet in a small inlet on the south shore of the bay. The springs flow into the creek about a mile… ...more
No visit to Tenakee would be complete without a long soak in the hot springs, whose healing properties drew the Tlingit people to this area long ago. The springs, which include a beautifully-restored bathhouse and changing room, are right in the middle of town, across from Tenakee Springs Market.
Located approximately, 90 miles north of Ketchikan in the Tongass National Forest on the Cleveland Peninsula. A 2.2‑mile trail begins at Bailey Bay just south of Shelokum Creek and leads to Lake Shelokum. At the inlet to the lake is a 3‑sided shelter. The hot springs are completely undisturbed and support a healthy population of unique algal plant life. Temperature 198 degrees Farenheit
Located on the outer coast of Baranof Island on Hot Springs Bay off of Sitka Sound, 16 miles south of Sitka. This may have been the earliest Alaska mineral springs known to the Europeans and before their arrival Indians came from many miles away to benefit from the healing waters. In the mid-1800s there were 3 cottages at Goddard that were used to house invalids from Sitka. In the late 1880s, a Sitka company erected frame buildings for the use… ...more
Although it sits 28 miles upstream, don’t expect privacy at this Forest Service owned hot springs. It’s a favorite haunt of locals who can crowd in on weekends and holidays. The day-use facility features one sheltered tub and another open to the elements, as well as dressing rooms, benches and outhouses.
Soak your cares away while surrounded by dramatic views of the wilderness and the Pacific Ocean. White Sulphur Springs offers both indoor and outdoor warm pools and is just a short boat ride from Pelican. This is a favorite hot spot (literally!) for kayakers, boaters, local residents and fishermen and women.