Chena Hot Springs is the most developed hot springs destination in Alaska. World famous for it's legendary healing mineral waters, beautiful Aurora Borealis displays in the winter, renewable energy projects and the Aurora Ice Museum-a year round geothermal technology wonder.
We were really excited to soak in the hot springs but when we got there we were a little disappointed. The hot springs looks more like an outdoor pool than anything natural. I'm sure the water felt good, and maybe it does have healing powers, but it was just too commercial for us. We didn't want to pay $15.00 each to experience it, especially when we're going to stop at another hot springs on the way home, one a lot more natural. But, in all fairness, people have been going to this hot spring for centuries, some in search of the eternal fountain of youth and others searching for cures for whatever ails them.
The water is composed of a variety of different, identified minerals. Many people believe that by bathing in the water, skin conditions such as psoriasis, muscular pains, and arthritis may be relieved. The water may be beneficial for some circulatory disorders and attract lots of people with bronchial disorders who claim the combination of steam and minerals provides breathing relief. I guess if it heals your ailment it would be worth the price.
Chena Hot Springs was founded 100 years ago by two gold mining brothers, Robert and Thomas Swan. In 1905, Robert Swan was suffering from rheumatism and needed a place to calm his pain and be comfortable. The two brothers set out to find the hot springs. It took them a little over a month to reach the hot springs after searching for it in Interior Alaska’s harsh landscape. In 1911, twelve small cabins were built to accommodate visitors. The twelve cabins developed, and they became one of the most famous resorts in the interior of Alaska. Chena Hot Springs became so famous that the United States Department of Agriculture sent chemists to analyze the water. The characteristics of the water are very different from other American hot springs. Makes you wonder, huh?
It only took us about an hour to explore the grounds, less time than it took us to drive it from Fairbanks! When we had enough we decided to go on to the North Pole, which meant driving back to Fairbanks!
First homesteaded in 1944, North Pole was given its holiday-themed name by a development company selling property and hoping to attract a toy manufacturer that could advertise products as being made in North Pole. The name stuck although a toy factory never materialized.
Only a 15-minute drive south of Fairbanks, North Pole features holiday decorations and trimmings all year. You can drive down streets like Santa Claus Lane, Kris Kringle Drive and Mistletoe Lane.
North Pole’s association with the spirit of Christmas began in earnest in the 1950s by Con Miller. The young trading post operator was well known in rural Alaska for playing Santa Claus for young children in Alaska villages. When he set up a trading post in North Pole, he named it Santa Claus House and today the sprawling store features almost endless aisles of Christmas ornaments and toys and a giant outdoor statue of Santa beckoning in highway travelers. This was our destination! I wanted to see Santa, and I did! I told him all about the good little boys and girls back home.
After leaving The North Pole we stopped at Harding Lake Campground where we stayed the night. Tomorrow we're heading to Tok. We're slowly making our way to Canada.