CHENA RIVER

We'd heard from many people that the only good thing about the Fairbanks area is Chena Hot Springs, but we couldn't disagree more. This region may not have the mountains and glaciers of the Kenai Peninsula, but the lush green trees and rivers make it a peaceful, beautiful place to be.

Our initial destination was Chena Hot Springs, but we decided to stop along the way and hike the Granite Tors trail. The trailhead is located at the Granite Tors campground, so we set up camp and waited for the weather to clear up.

By mile 5, we could see the rain headed our way, and by mile 8 we were in a downpour.

We took shelter in the backpackers cabin, and then continued on to the tors.

Finally the rain and us parted ways, and we made our way back to camp.

CHENA HOT SPRINGS & NORTH POLE

After a long day hiking in the cold rain, we looked forward to soaking and relaxing in the hot springs we'd heard so much about.

When we arrived to Chena Hot Springs we were surprised to find a gift shop, ice museum, reindeer, and a $15 per person entrance fee. Clearly this wasn't going to be the natural, undeveloped experience we'd prefer, but we still enjoyed the springs.

After leaving the hot springs, we stopped by the town of North Pole. The quirky Christmas spirit was everywhere, and felt slightly out of place in the dead of summer. Also, we've come to find that Blockbusters still thrive in Alaskan towns.

We set up camp nearby to get some freelance work done and plan our trip up the Dalton Highway.


FINAL THOUGHTS

We'd definitely recommend the Granite Tors hike. It's a great way to get out and see a pretty incredible landscape away from the crowds. Just be smarter than us and check the weather before you head out!

While the Chena Hot Springs weren't our cup of tea, many people highly recommend them. The facility was clean and there was even a separate indoor pool for kids, which made the outdoor hot springs pretty peaceful.

CAMPING

Granite Tors trailhead & campground, $15
[64.90306, -146.36297]

Chena Lake recreation area, $20
[64.73477, -147.25291]

HIKING

Granite Tors trailhead
15 mile loop
[64.90306, -146.36297]

SOAKING

Chena Hot Springs Resort
$15/person
[65.05305, -146.05655]