Last Updated on October 23, 2021 by Wandering our World
Nothing is as enthralling as unwinding your muscles and mind in a geothermal pool of warm water after a long hike in frigid temperatures. At least for us, it feels like one of the most natural things on the planet. For that reason, we felt compelled to share with you our favourite Alaska hot springs. Let’s just say it’s our good deed of the day.
If you know Alaska, you’ll know it is full of incredible hot springs – many of them set in stunning wilderness. In fact there’s 79 known hot springs, but only 20 of these are actually accessible.
Most of Alaska’s hot springs are found in the Yukon River Basin and on the islands of the Southeast panhandle. A few Alaska hot springs are so rural that you have to either hike through pristine tundra wilderness to get there (and earn your bathing spot!) or take a seaplane, while others are situated in rustic bathhouses or resorts.
So, whether you’re looking for an Alaskan hot spring in a resort, or want to take your chance in the wild, below are our favorite accessible hot springs in the 49th state!
Chena Hot Springs
Located within the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Chena Hot Springs is the most popular Alaskan hot springs destination, and for a reason – it’s probably the most accessible. However Chena Hot Springs also has a wonderful all-year round average temperature of 106℉ and a depth of four feet – absolutely perfect for bathing.
This Alaska hot spring is part of a resort, but for $15 you are granted access to the resort’s hot tubs, heated pools, and hot showers.
There’s a big indoor pool, and a large one outside too. An insider tip – the outside pool is a fantastic place to view the Northern Lights at night! The outside pool is also disability accessible which is a big plus.
Address: 56 Chena Hot Springs Road, Fairbanks
Average temperature: 106℉
Chief Shakes Hot Springs
Located 28 miles northwest of Wrangell in Southeast Alaska, Chief Shakes is a famous U.S Forest service-owned hot spring that sits by the pretty Ketili River – an offshoot of the Stikine River.
Nestled in the Tongass National Forest, a short 0.3-mile hike off Hot Spring Slough will take you to these hot springs where you can expect a temperature of around 140℉. That seems hot – and it is – but there’s a pipe with cold water that can bring the temperature down if need be.
Visitors can choose between two tubs – one with a screened structure or a wooden porch. The hot springs also have changing areas, a picnic table, and an outdoor fire pit.
Since there is no overnight accommodation here, the springs can get pretty busy at the weekends and holidays. Dispersed camping could be an option, but you would have to ask the U.S. Forest Service, who look after the site, first.
Average temperature: 140℉
Goddard Hot Springs
Goddard Hot Springs, situated 16 miles south of Sitka on the stunning Baranof Island, is one of the first Alaska hot springs discovered by Europeans. It’s also one of the most special and remote.
The only way to locate these hot springs is by chartering a plane or boat, but they are worth the effort.
The hot springs have two modern cedar bathtubs available to visitors throughout the year. If you’ve managed to get here, the reward is bathing in natural spring water that averages around 153℉.
Amazingly, despite being maintained and in stunning forest surroundings, these hot springs are actually free of charge and operate on a first come first served basis.
This is probably one of our favorite Alaskan hot springs, and surely one of the most beautiful.
Address: Baranof Island, Sitka, AK 99835
Average temperature: 153℉
Baranof Warm Springs
These immaculate hot springs are also located on Baranof Island, this time on the eastern side of Warm Springs Bay near Chatham Strait.
Expect one of the best views of the region when bathing here, as you’ll be looking out on pristine forests and the glacial-fed Baranof Lake.
The only downside to this natural gem is there aren’t any paved roads to get here, and you’ll have to charter a seaplane from the City of Sitka.
If you do make it here you’ll get the chance to soak in nine separate hot springs that are spread over half a mile and that average 120℉. It’s a very special place.
Address: Warm Springs Bay, Baranof Island
Average temperature: 120℉
Serpentine Hot Springs
Located in the Bering Land Bridge National Reserve, Serpentine Hot Springs is famed as a place of spiritual healing, and has been used by Inuit shamans and native healers for centuries.
However, whilst the hot springs are of cultural importance, they can also be visited for recreational use, and boast a bunkhouse and bathhouse available to tourists throughout the year. As a result, Serpentine Hot Springs is actually the most visited area in the preserve despite how rural and remote it is.
Described previously as a ‘little oasis in a field of green, surrounded by a fence of granite’, the landscape that the hot springs reside in is dramatic, wild, and unique due to the granite rocks (called tors) that jut out of the ground.
While enjoying the hot natural water temperature here (171℉), keep an eye out for the huge variety of wildlife. Moose, brown bears, caribou, raptors, red foxes and more, have all been spotted while bathing at the hot springs.
You have to be adventurous to get here though, as you will either need to hike to the hot springs, or fly here. It’s possible to hike here from Kotzebue or Nome – Alaska’s most famous gold rush town.
This must be one of the most beautiful Alaska hot springs around.
Address: Bering Land Bridge National Reserve
Average temperature: 150-171℉
Tolovana Hot Springs
As Alaskan hot springs go, this one isn’t the most difficult to access despite being the most remote of the so-called ‘Big Four” hot springs in Tolovana Valley.
That said, this hot spring 100 miles from Fairbanks still requires an 11-mile trail to get there – either by foot or snowmobile. Of course if you have the money, there’s also a little airstrip close to the springs that can be used by a small plane.
It’s well worth the trek though, as this place is remote and sits in true Alaskan wilderness. The rural nature of the hot springs means you will almost certainly have them all to yourself. There are cabins you can rent here too – although you will have to take your own food and sleeping bag with you! Staying here is a real experience though, and something that will remain in your mind for the rest of your life.
The temperature of the hot springs is around 125-145℉, which feels perfect after a day trekking the area. That’s something we really recommend as there are some wonderful trails around the hot springs that take you even deeper into the wild.
Along with wildlife like moose, black bear, fox, marten, and porcupine that can all be spotted while bathing, keep an eye on the sky at night. This has to be one of the best places in the world for witnessing the Northern Lights.
Address: Tolovana Hot Springs, 11 miles off Elliot Highway (milepost 93)
Average temperature: 125-145℉
Tenakee Hot Springs
The bathhouse at these hot springs was built in 1900, but it remains difficut to reach as it’s located in Tenakee Springs, which is a 30 minute seaplane journey from the city of Juneau. That means it is a mission to get here, but it also adds to the special feeling you have by experiencing a place very few people get to visit.
It doesn’t matter when you arrive either, as the Tenakee Hot Springs can be accessed all day and night throughout the year. Although unlike other Alaska hot springs, you’re not allowed to wear clothes so there are separate times for men and women to bathe. Men have access from 2-6pm and 10pm-9am, while women have access from 9am-2pm, and 6-10pm.
The temperature of the mineral water is around 105℉, and it comes out of the ground at a rate of seven gallons per minute! There’s no fee to use the hot springs, but you’re expected to make a donation to help with the upkeep of the bathhouse.
This really does feel like a place to unwind from the world and de-stress.
Address: Tenakee Hot Springs, Across from Tenakee Springs Market
Average temperature: 105℉
Manley Hot Springs
This destination requires prior reservation before visiting. However once you arrive you are faced with the very pleasant task of choosing from three concrete tubs in a greenhouse that are fed by natural spring water varying in temperature. The temperatures are very nice, and the water quality good.
After bathing you can enjoy scenic mountains and valley views – the same mountains that were once explored by miners searching for hidden fortunes during the gold rush a century ago. Bliss.
Address: 151 Elliott Hwy, Manley Hot Springs
Average temperature: 100-120℉
White Sulphur Springs
This exceptional hot spring sits in exceptional surroundings, having sprung up on the western coast of Chichagof Island. An island that’s barely known in the US, but is actually the country’s fifth largest! To get here you’ll either have to take a boat from Pelican, charter a floatplane, or our preferred option, come by kayak.
The warm outdoor pool bubbles at a pleasant 135°F, and is complemented by a bathhouse that also houses natural hot mineral water. We prefer the outside one as you have uninterrupted views out towards the North Pacific Ocean, and can enjoy the relaxing sound of waves against rock.
The U.S Forest Service maintains a cabin here which can be rented for $45 a night – an extremely affordable price to stay in a piece of Alaskan paradise, right beside one of the state’s best hot springs.
There’s also some lovely hikes around White Sulphur Springs too. A pleasant two hour hike will take you to Lake Elfendahl and Lake Morri. Just be on the lookout for brown bears who live in this region.
Address: Northern shore of Bertha Bay, Chichagof Island
Average temperature: 135°F
Kanuti Hot Springs
Located 12 miles off the Mile 103 marker west of Dalton Highway, Kanuti Hot Springs is in a remote but spectacular spot.
There are no roads to the hot springs so if you want to access the site you have to be inventive! During the summer, you can enjoy a 14-mile scenic float down the pristine Kanuti River from the Dalton Highway crossing on a lightweight raft.
You can also hike over the pretty Caribou Mountain using the ridge line, or in winter cross-country ski to the hot springs using that same ridgeline. You can see a map of that hike, and the river route, here.
Whichever way you get here, expect memorable views in a remarkable landscape, and then the opportunity to relax and unwind in hot springs that range in temperature from 110℉ to 150℉.
Expect to have this hot spring all to yourself if you do make it here. A truly special experience.
Address: Below Caribou Mountain
Average temperature: 110℉ to 150℉