There are many ways to experience Alaska’s wilderness, as the state boasts unique sights and natural landmarks. Whether you’re looking for a resort vacation or a secluded hot spring soak deep in the forest, Alaska has something for you. Alaska is one of the best locations for those who enjoy being in the wilderness, and what better way to experience the state than exploring its hot springs?
Consult our Alaska hot springs map to discover what hot springs you’d like to visit.
In This Article
- Alaskan Hot Springs
- Tips for Visiting Alaska’s Hot Springs
- Windstar Cruises Knows Alaska
Alaskan Hot Springs
Alaska is home to 79 hot springs, though only about 25% are used for bathing and domestic use. An even smaller number of the hot springs are considered developed. Because most areas of Alaska are quite isolated, many of the hot springs are only accessible via bush plane, boat, horseback riding or hiking trail. With that in mind, here are some of the most popular Alaskan hot springs to visit.
Chena Hot Springs
Chena Hot Springs has been one of the most popular and accessible hot springs in Alaska since it was discovered in 1905. The waters became famous for soothing pain and aches, and now they’re a destination for unwinding and relaxing. Today, the springs are accompanied by Chena Hot Springs Resort, which features a campground, restaurant, ice museum and various tours. Relax at the resort’s heated indoor pool and hot tub, or enjoy the natural mineral water of the outdoor hot spring that averages 106 degrees Fahrenheit.
Aside from the hot springs, the resort offers many activities that are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Choose between a number of activities, including dog sled rides and a chance to view the aurora borealis — also known as the northern lights. Chena Hot Springs has a reputation for being one of the best places for aurora viewing. The resort also offers a variety of accommodations, including lodge rooms, cabins and yurts.
Manley Hot Springs
Manley Hot Springs is a semi-developed destination, offering a more rustic experience. The springs were founded as a homestead and farm in 1902. Five years later, a resort hotel was built featuring a restaurant, bar and swimming pool. After the hotel was lost in a fire and mining activity declined, the area became relatively deserted. Today, the Manley Roadhouse offers a few rooms for rent as one of the only accommodations around the hot springs.
The springs themselves are housed in a privately owned greenhouse. The springs heat the greenhouse, allowing tropical plants, fruits and vegetables to grow. Relax in the three concrete baths of spring water surrounded by lush vegetation. The area is also popular for dog sledding, hiking and fishing, making Manley Hot Springs a unique Alaskan adventure.
Tolovana Hot Springs
Without road access, visitors of Tolovana Hot Springs must trek 10 miles through the Alaskan backcountry to reach the springs. The scenic route offers views of valleys, tundras and mountains. While visitors can ride in a bush plane to access the springs, Tolovana Hot Springs is a popular destination for skiers, dog teams, snowmobilers and snowshoers. The springs pool into three hot tubs where visitors can relax after their trip.
Accommodations include three rustic cabins, each equipped with an outhouse and supplies like water, a propane stove, kitchen utensils, lights, a wood stove for heat and sleeping pads. Because of its isolated location, Tolovana Hot Springs is a great location to watch for wildlife like wolves, moose and black bears. Reservations are required for overnight stays. Keep in mind you’ll have to make the same hike back out of the springs when your stay is over.
Pilgrim Hot Springs
Landing on the National Register of Historic Places list, Pilgrim Hot Springs was once a recreational location for gold miners to bathe and relax. After a fire destroyed the saloon and roadhouse, the springs were given to an orphanage. The abandoned buildings remain in the ghost town where a few hot springs are still open for soaking. The property has the potential to become a tourist attraction and a geothermal energy source for the nearby city of Nome.
The drive to Pilgrim Hot Springs is picturesque, and you’ll be surrounded by the historical site and scenic views when soaking in the hot springs. Be sure to pack food and water and obtain a visitor’s pass before visiting the property. Because of its historical status, there are no lodging options at the hot springs, though there are campsites and other places to stay in Nome.
Tenakee Hot Springs
Tenakee Hot Springs is located in the small town of Tenakee Springs and is a central highlight of the community. The hot springs pool has since been enlarged and enclosed to provide a more comfortable soaking experience despite the harsh weather. The city’s volunteer committee has been operating the bathhouse since the 1930s, and it still remains free to use for the locals and visitors.
The hot springs bathhouse is open year-round at 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The mineral springs water nourishes the body and is intended to be soaked in while nude. Tenakee Springs may be small, but the town offers numerous lodging options for visitors. Like many other areas of Alaska, most people access Tenakee Springs via ferry or plane. Other attractions in the area include fishing, sailing and kayaking. Orcas and humpback whales are also frequently seen in the area.
Goddard Hot Springs
Accessible by plane or boat, Goddard Hot Springs is a must-see if you’re near Sitka. These hot springs have one of the oldest histories of Alaskan hot springs. The healing waters were first used as a place for sick people to recover. What began with three cottages eventually turned into a three-story hotel for locals to seek cures. That hotel has since been removed, and now two modern bathhouses cover the stainless steel hot spring tubs.
The waters are free to soak in and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Goddard Hot Springs reaches 153 degrees Fahrenheit, so the bathhouses also offer cold water tubs to make the temperature bearable. There are campsites at the springs, or visitors may find lodging 16 miles away in Sitka. While you’re on Baranof Island, consider also exploring Baranof Warm Springs.
White Sulphur Hot Springs
White Sulphur Hot Springs is a remote escape deep within the Tongass National Forest. The hot springs are primarily accessed via boat, though floatplanes and kayaks are also often used. Recently reconstructed, the cabin and bathhouse make the location ideal for those looking for fresh air and relaxation.
Enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean while soaking in the springs or taking a walk along the beach. The bathhouse and outdoor pool are free to use, and their temperatures are controlled to provide a comfortable soak. The only lodging here is a four-person cabin with a wood stove and an outhouse. Aside from the White Sulphur Hot Springs, visitors can enjoy hiking, fishing and viewing wildlife. Hiking terrain is fairly easy to manage, allowing visitors to explore Mirror Harbor, Lake Morris and Lake Elfendahl.
Serpentine Hot Springs
The Bering Land Bridge National Preserve is home to the Serpentine Hot Springs. With no roads to the hot springs, visitors can charter a bush plane, snowmobile, bike or hike their way to the waters. Once on-site, there is a bunkhouse, bathhouse and outhouse that operates on a first-come, first-served basis. The bunkhouse sleeps several people, but be sure to bring your own supplies.
The hot springs reach temperatures as high as 171 degrees Fahrenheit, so cooler water needs to be added to the spring to make the water more comfortable. Choose between a soak in the bathhouse or enjoy the picturesque views of the surrounding landscape. In addition to the unique spires of granite rock that shoot up from the ground, visitors have the chance to see wildlife like beavers, moose, brown bears and caribou. Regardless of the season, you’re sure to experience beautiful views and a relaxing soak.
Shelokum Hot Springs
Shelokum Hot Springs is a lightly visited hot spring in the Tongass National Forest on the Cleveland Peninsula. The trail to the springs is just over 2 miles long, or you can get dropped off closer to the springs via boat or plane. The National Forestry Department cares for Shelokum Hot Springs. Because they’re pretty undisturbed, the springs support algae and other plant life. The springs are nearly 200 degrees Fahrenheit, so be sure to balance your soak with hot and cold water.
Camp on a first-come, first-serve basis in the three-sided Shelokum Shelter while enjoying views of dense forests and scenic mountains. The shelter is rarely used and remains in good condition. This little oasis offers a great place to relax and soak in the healing waters.
Chief Shakes Hot Springs
Located along the Stikine River, Chief Shakes Hot Springs is accessible by boat and less than half a mile hike to the facility. The facility is open for day use and is free for locals and tourists. The hot springs are piped into two 7-foot wide tubs made from redwood. One sits inside a screened-in porch, and the other is outside where you can enjoy the fresh air and capture views. The spring water is typically around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, though it can fluctuate with cold and hot flow pipes.
Aside from the two hot tubs, the Chief Shakes Hot Springs facility also includes two outhouses, dressing rooms, a fire pit and picnic tables. There are only two cabins located up the river, but visitors are welcome to camp around the facility and surrounding trails.
Tips for Visiting Alaska’s Hot Springs
Now that some of the best hot springs in Alaska are on your radar, it’s time to plan for your trip. Alaskan hot springs are unique destinations, so we have a few tips to help you prepare.
What to Wear
As with any trip, it’s important to consider the time of year and what the weather is expected to be like when packing your wardrobe. Packing according to the weather is crucial to staying warm and dry in Alaska. Since most Alaskan hot springs require visitors to hike to reach the springs, a good pair of hiking boots will go a long way.
Additionally, it’s important to remember to take a bathing suit with you. A bathing suit might be the last thing on your mind when planning a trip to Alaska, but you’ll need to wear one in nearly all the springs. Some hot springs may be clothing optional, but you don’t to be stuck without one if they’re not.
Other Items to Bring
There are a few other items that can help make your trip to a hot spring more comfortable and enjoyable. You’ll likely have a backpack to carry things on your boat, plane or hiking trip, so consider finding one that’s waterproof. There will be a lot of moisture in the air, and the surrounding area is likely to be wet too. Items like your clothes, phones, cameras and other belongings that you don’t want to get wet can stay safe in your bag.
We also recommend bringing a towel with you so you can dry off before getting redressed and prevent getting cold in the transition from warm waters to cold air. Additionally, bring plenty of water with you. The heat can lead to dehydration, so it’s important to consistently rehydrate.
Remember the Best Soaking Time Lengths
Hot springs can reach impressively high temperatures, making them relaxing and rejuvenating. However, it’s important to limit how long you sit in the hot water. Similar to stepping out of a hot tub after 15-30 minutes, you should give yourself short breaks outside of the hot spring to prevent dehydration and overheating. These breaks are great times to drink water too.
Choose When to Visit Based on What You Want to Do and See
Depending on the time of year, you’ll have different Alaskan experiences. For example, in the winter, you can see the northern lights and try activities like ice fishing or dog sledding. The summer will be warmer and busier as it’s the most popular season for traveling to the state, and you can experience the midnight sun. Consider where you want to travel, what you want to do and what conditions you’re prepared to endure when planning your Alaskan hot springs trip.
Windstar Cruises Knows Alaska
Traveling around Alaska’s interior can be rewarding yet time-consuming because of the distance between attractions. If you want a new perspective of the views and natural hot springs in Alaska, consider booking an Alaskan cruise with Windstar. Our various packages allow you to find something intriguing and discover new parts of the state and surrounding countries.
Windstar’s yacht cruises provide an intimacy you won’t find with big charters. With the time and freedom to fully immerse yourself in the destination, we’ll help you find the hidden gems at each destination. Browse our Alaskan cruises today or contact a Vacation Planner to learn more.