Top 8 Activities to do at Chena Hot Springs Resort

Heather Raulerson posing for Aurora Portrait

Chena Hot Springs Resort is my newest fave winter vacation spot! Just 60 miles from Fairbanks it has the prime spot to see the northern lights and to immerse yourself in the natural outdoor hot springs. Since 1905, visitors from all over the world have been enjoying the healing waters at Chena Hot Springs. Here are the top eight activities to do at the resort.

Heather Raulerson posing for Aurora Portrait

Hot Spring (Of Course!)

I went and soaked in the Hot Spring Lake every morning. Dipping yourself in the water is an excellent way to start the day all relaxed. It averaged 102 degrees at the entrance but, as you walked around the lake, you could find hotter pockets of water if you wanted. My hair kept freezing with the steam which looked like a spider web, super cool! There is even an indoor family pool for those who don’t want to brave the colder weather. The Hot Spring Lake is one of the most relaxing highlights of staying at the Chena Hot Springs Resort. If you like to visit hot springs and want more possibilities to visit them, check out my friend Amy’s blog that tells you all about the Blue Lagoon hot spring in Iceland.Hot Springs Lake - Chena Hot Springs Resort

Visit with the Animals

Since I was on a photography expedition, I walked around the resort during the day, taking pictures of all the animals on the property. There were caribou, reindeer, goats, and even chickens. You can get some amazing photos of the animals as they come right up to you by the fence.Caribou up closewhite reindeer up closegoat sticking his head outGoats butting heads

Renewable Energy Tour

I got to go on a tour to see how Chena Hot Springs is self-sustaining. The first stop was the generator that takes the hot water from the ground and turns it into geothermal energy. The water comes in at 165 degrees and they lower it down to just slightly over 100 for the Hot Spring Lake on the property. The lodge where we were staying was also heated this way. All the floors had radiant heating. When we checked in, we asked how to lower down the heat; they told us open the window. Chena Power Renewable Energy Generator - Chena Hot Springs Resort

The next stop was the Greenhouse. This is where they grow the lettuce that they use in their salads at the restaurant. Most of their food is grown here in their own greenhouse. My personal favorite was the apple and pear salad with a cider vinegar dressing with the lettuce grown from the greenhouse. I ordered this multiple times. Yummy! Lettuce growing in Chena Hot Springs Resort GreenhouseApple and Pear Salad with home grown lettuce from Chena Hot Springs Greenhouse

Ice Museum

Have an Appletini in an Ice glass – You are only able to see inside the Aurora Ice Museum in a tour. You walk inside, and it is warmer sometimes in the museum than outside. It stays a constant 25 degrees cold for all the ice sculptures to be enjoyed. The ice art generated inside is from two World Championship Ice Carvers, Steve & Heather Brice. I even got to see them make the ice Appletini glass that I enjoyed later on the tour. The photography was a bit tougher to get good pictures inside with the low light. I ended up switching back and forth with my camera so that I wouldn’t miss anything. Watch out when you ask the bartender to take your photo. You might have a couple of him on your camera when you get home. Sneaky fellow.Aurora Ice Museum - Chena Hot Springs Resortinside the Aurora Ice Museum - Chena Hot Springs ResortHeather Raulerson drinking an Appletini in the Aurora Ice Museum - Chena Hot Springs Resort

Dog Sledding/Kennel Tour

The sled dogs are amazing little animals, and they have loud barks so, you can hear them all the way to the lodge. Plus, I was able to play with the cutest little puppies in the kennel. These little guys have the potential to be race dog sledders someday. You can read more about this particular tour in a previous post.Dog Sledding - Chena Hot Springs ResortHeather Raulerson playing with puppies at Chena Dog Kennel

Flight-Seeing Expedition to the Arctic Circle

This tour is pricier but, definitely worth every penny. I went with a great group of fellow photographers, and Seth, our pilot, was terrific. You can read more about my flight to the Arctic Circle and Beaver Village in this post.Flightseeing group to Arctice Circle and Beaver VillageHeather Raulerson on planeAerial view of Alaskan mountains and rivers

Aurora Snow Coach

The Aurora Snow Coach takes you up the mountain to be able to view the Northern Lights unfettered by the resort’s lights. The back cab is side seating so, you are smooshed up against your new friends and hope that you don’t fall into their laps as you go up and down the mountain. We were laughing so hard the entire time. Once up on top of the mountain, I was fortunate to get my Aurora Portrait (See first photo or Pinterest pin) done by the esteemed photographer, Kristen Bentz. How awesome is this?!Snow coach for the Aurora Viewing Tour

Chasing the Northern Lights

I saved the best for last! The whole purpose of my trip was to catch these elusive northern lights, and by golly, I caught them! If you want to do the same, you can read my how-to postpurple and yellow northern lights behind planeGreen Northern Light pillars with tree silhouettesbright green and purple northern lights streaking up the skyStar Trails with purple and green northern lights behind evergreen treesPurple and yellow Northern Lights

I thoroughly enjoyed my first trip to Alaska. I want to thank Great Escape Publishing and Bonnie Caton for putting this all together. And Kristen Bentz who bestowed upon all of us her photography secrets and wisdom, which I will continue to use in the future.

Have you been to Alaska and enjoyed all the activities that Chena Hot Springs Resort has to offer? I would love to hear about it. Plus, here is a link for more ideas if you are looking for more amazing places in the United States to visit.

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Further Reading

If you are coming to Alaska for a visit, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:


  • Stacey 7May2017 at 11:09 AM Reply

    Stunning pictures of the northern lights! I’m subscribing!

    • Heather 7May2017 at 9:03 PM Reply

      Thank you Stacey! I’m so glad you liked my photos.

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