On Friday afternoon, we went out to Chena Hot Springs Resort. This is easily my favorite place to visit in/around Fairbanks. It is located 54 miles east of the Steese Highway. The first time I went here was in 1976 when the road was still gravel. It's was then and still is a wonderful drive. We saw a couple of moose in the brush along the side of the road about 15 miles back and something that looked like either a small wolf or maybe a coyote cross in front of us.
On Saturday morning after breakfast, we walked around the grounds. Here is the duck pond. We were told that the ducks and geese at the pond don't bother to head south for the winter. The water is warm and there must be enough to feed on.
In addition to the hotel rooms, there are rustic cabins that you can rent as well. By rustic, electicity, a wood stove for heat, and an outhouse. Plus, they have enough bunk space for around a dozen people. Pretty nice if you have a large group.
This is looking to the east from the same spot. There is a lot of old mining equipment lying around just to give the place an "Alaska" feel. The creek is warm water since it is the overflow from the hot springs. The trail leads to an aurora viewing cabin up on the hill with large floor to ceiling windows facing north. And a nice wood stove to keep you warm.
Looking towards the pool area, there is this fire breathing steel dragon powered by propane. The greenhouse in this picture as well as the next are heated and powered by geothermal from the hot springs. At the back of the property is the first ever low temperature geothermal power plant with sterling engines powering the generators. All of the electricity for the resort comes from this power plant. There is enough power to keep a large insulated building containing their ice hotel frozen through the summer. Obviously, it isn't an actual hotel but it is built of solid ice and has a bar inside serving appletinis in carved ice glasses. All of the produce served at the restaurant, including lettuce and tomatoes, are grown in their greenhouses year around.
There are a series of cooling pools and this is the last one before the water is pumped into the swimming pools. The indoor pool with two hot tubs are the lowest temperature and the outdoor soaking tub is a little bit warmer. The latest remodel got rid of the deck surrounding the outdoor soaking tub in exchange for improved changing rooms. Probably a good trade off.
By far, the nicest is the outdoor lake surrounded by large boulders. The minimum age is 18 due to the rock hazards and risk of slipping. The temperature of the lake varies depending on where you are as well as the air temperature. So you can move around looking for the ideal temperature. We've been out here when it was approaching -40° and this pool is wonderful. Especially if you can look up and see the aurora while soaking. If your hair freezes just submerge briefly.