Fairbanks is the farthest city north with a population of 30,000 people or more. The second biggest city in Alaska, this city has plenty of interesting things going for it. The city never gets completely dark from May until August, and during the rest of the year, when sunlight is sparse, the northern lights occasionally light up the night sky in varying shades of bright blues, greens, pinks and reds.
Chena Hot Springs is a gorgeous 61 mile drive east of the city, down the winding Chena Hot Springs Road, most of which offers a view of nothing but evergreen trees, mountains and the road, and the Chena River. The Hot Springs has the dual distinction of being both a tourist trap and a spa that locals frequent.
The hot springs have many available activities, some of various levels of fun and amusement
1. Hike from Angel Rocks. If you feel like earning your soak time through hard work, park 11 miles down the road at Angel Rocks, and hike the 8-mile trail (it is more direct than the road) to the hot springs. Parts of the climb are pretty difficult, so be forewarned.
2. Geothermal Renewable Energy Tour-Natural Hot Springs are the result of geothermal energy heating the ground water. Learn how the resort harnesses this to make steam to create electricity
3. The Hot Springs Tubs-Anyone under 18 must stay in the indoor pool. Pity. Everyone else can go outside into the rock garden pool (about 25 meters long, 10 meters wide), lined with rocks, and festooned with a waterfall and sprayer. The pool is open year round, but it is the most fun at -40 degrees, when your hair freezes and you can watch the steam radiate off your body as you exit the pool
4. Ice Museum- $15 admission gives you access to ice sculptures, an ice alter where some have their dream ice wedding, ice hotel rooms (that seem very uncomfortable) and an ice bar where you can order a drink in a martini glass made of handcrafted ice. Unless you really like ice, I recommend you skip this tour.
5.Sled Dogs- Dog sleds are used for utility in some places, but you can also pet and play with the dogs and even go on a 2-mile dog sled tour.
6. Massage- If you’re feeling stressed, the resort offers a variety of massages- Swedish, reflexology, cranial, deep tissue, sports and prenatal, among a few.
7. The Restaurant-Of course, geothermal energy has another great benefit besides creating pools and electricity- the heat can be harnessed in greenhouses to grow tasty organic vegetables. When you check out the restaurant, be sure to try something with vegetables, like a Salmon BLT, or the Chena Salad.
8. The Aurora Borealis- The Aurora is finicky-it comes out when it wants to come out, and it cannot be predicted more than 20 minutes-an hour in advance. If you are staying at the resort, get away from the lights for best aurora viewing, whether it be with a tour or by driving down the road a few miles
9. Rent skis, snowshoes, or ice skates- weather permitting, of course. The best time to visit the resort is during the winter months, and exploring the trails by ski or snowshoe is a great way to get exercise. The Ice skating pond is very small, though.
10. Snow machine tours-If you’ve never ridden a snow machine, it is a lot of fun, much like an all-terrain vehicle on snow