Chena Hot Springs Resort is situated 56.6 miles northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, which passes through beautiful landscapes and wildlife. My family and I make an annual trip to the resort (usually a few days after Christmas), as we always have family members who are visiting from out of town. Who wouldn’t want to experience bathing outdoors in negative degree temperatures? In all reality it’s an amazing experience whether you’re visiting in the winter or the summer months.
After visiting the hot springs over the past few years I noticed that people tend to forget or have no knowledge of items that are needed for the pool house. I hope this list mentioned below can help provide you with knowledge of items that are, in my opinion, a MUST, and will help alleviate any stress when you’re trying to enjoy your vacation.
1. Shower Shoes
During my first visit to the hot springs I was completely unaware of the “no shoe” rule in the locker room. When you first arrive at the pool house entrance you’ll be asked to take off your shoes and store them on a shelf before you venture back into the designated male/female locker rooms. If you don’t like the idea of walking around barefoot through the locker rooms and beyond, I highly recommend packing a pair of shower shoes. The resort keeps the locker rooms very clean, but with so many people tracking through there on a daily basis it can never hurt to protect your feet. You may also want them for the showers as well.
Quarters, yes, as in 25¢. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people stuff their items into lockers, and then realize they don’t have any quarters to lock away their belongings. Staff at the pool house front desk will sometimes ask you if you need to exchange paper money for quarters when you initially pay, which can help alleviate the frustration once you are in the locker room. Don’t assume they will always remind you though, so try to have some available if possible. I usually pack a couple extra just in case I have to get back into my locker for some reason, or I find a lost soul who starts to panic because they don’t have any coins.
I have to admit, I’ve left my towel at home a few times even though it’s an item you will definitely need after you get out the water or after you take a shower. If you are a guest at the resort then towels will be provided, but if you’re a one day guest you will need to either bring a towel or rent one for $5.00 at the pool house front desk. If you’re staying at a hotel in Fairbanks make sure to pack a towel before you head out and save your $5.00!
4. Bottled Water
During my last trip a lady from Washington State asked me, “So, anything you recommend I take out there?” She seemed like she was all set, but I did tell her that I always take out a bottle of water. The outdoor hot springs can get hot, real hot, even in the winter. The longest I’ve been able to stay in the water has been an hour, and after that I start to develop a headache. The outdoor pool is surrounded by rocks, a perfect place to set a water bottle or jug (especially in the winter when the cold rocks and air will cool the bottle). You will want to stay nice and hydrated if you plan to stay in the hot springs for longer amounts of time.
And don’t worry, the restrooms are back through the heated tunnel (a winter necessity) so you can always go back and use them at any time.
5. Phone Cover
Let’s be honest, you’ll want to take pictures and document this awesome experience. I still take my phone out there each time as the place is magical and totally picture-worthy!
The last time I went out there I took my fancy new DSLR (would only recommend if you’re willing to take the risk or your camera is waterproof). After snapping pictures on both devices I felt I was more at risk of dropping my phone in the water as it was awkward to hold and very light. I highly recommend buying a waterproof case or a clear waterproof pouch (a cheaper option that can be found at stores like REI) before taking your device with you into the water.
Please know that these items discussed are not all inclusive and you may need additional gear to make your experience the best it can be. For example, the sun will not set completely in the summer, so sunglasses may be a must, or in the winter you may want to think about additional warm weather gear after you leave the pool house. Whatever time of year you decide to visit I hope that these recommendations will help you enjoy your adventure to one of Fairbanks top attractions.
If you have any additional tips from your own visit to Chena Hot Springs Resort please leave a comment!