The Chena Hot Springs offers a number of things to do including a nice bar & restaurant. You can relax in the hot springs, take a snow machine tour, ice fish, go on a dog sledding tour, go to the Auroratorium, go on a small hike, or even get a massage. The ice museum and the northern lights tour were my two favorites on this trip. Check the main website for a full list of activities (seasonal) and packages.
The ice museum tour is pretty unique as it is the world’s largest year-round ice environment. The tour is about 45 minutes long with a friendly guide (and bartender if you choose to get an Appletinni). The museum features many fantastic sculptures, an ice chapel and a unique hotel consisting of 4 rooms.
The tour costs $15, $30 with an Appletini and $10 for kids 6-11. It’s worth the experience and cool pictures: take a look at these shots.
I must say that the food at the restaurant was pretty good. They have a pretty good variety on the menu including a Yellow Thai Curry and a salad. An interesting fact about the salad: it is all freshly grown from Chena Hot Springs. Then for breakfast I had an Eggs Benedict.
The highlight of the trip (to me) was going on the 5 hour tour of the Northern Lights. The tour is $75 and sells out pretty quickly. I’d recommend taking a nap before heading out at 10:30pm, which I ended up doing.
Riding in these SUSV’s from the early 80’s all the way to the top of Charlie Dome was a good time. I sat up front which was (in my opinion) the best way of experiencing such a vehicle. The ride to the top is about 30min with great views. The sun was finally going away at 10:45pm.
Once we arrived at the camp site, it opened up to a stunning view of the surrounding area. The sky was pretty clear but snow clouds were moving in. The northern lights activity wasn’t real strong but it did give a good display for a short while.
At base camp, a small building was nice and warm for all on the tour. We were quickly briefed on what to expect for the duration of the tour. The tour guide also went over some suggested camera settings.
For much of the night, the northern lights weren’t super active. Snow clouds did move in but still weren’t bad enough to ruin the night. So far I have discovered that the northern lights is very random in intensity. It could be forecast to be an excellent night but could very easily changes due to weather/clouds. Here are a few more shots of what that night was like.
The tour was a good time, despite it lengthy duration of 5 hours. The base camp area was a nice place to warm back up, meet people and have a warm beverage and or cup of noodles. Luckily the night of the tour was windy but it was certainly cold.
Overall I had a good time at Chena Hot Springs. Lodging wasn’t bad at all, staff is pretty friendly and if you need to move your check out time, it can easily be done.