From Fairbanks, an easy way to get out and enjoy nature is to drive scenic Chena Hot Springs Road (56 miles long). Much of the road meanders through Chena River State Recreation Area where you can camp, fish, float and hike. Two hikes along the way are Granite Tors and Angel Rocks both of which offer short and longer options. The well-maintained trails take you through picturesque forests to outcroppings of rocks that afford outstanding views.
Chena Hot Springs Road dead-ends at Chena Hot Springs Resort, a world-class hot spring renowned for its outstanding outdoor rock lake, year-round ice museum, excellent northern lights viewing opportunities and focus on renewable geothermal energy. In addition to the Hot Spring and the Ice Museum, Chena Hot Springs has a wide array of activities and attractions including dog mushing and kennel tours, skiing, snowmobiling, ATV rides, fishing, flightseeing, hiking, biking, aurora borealis viewing tours, horseback riding and even horse-drawn sleigh rides.
Let the resort's healing, mineral-rich outdoor rock lake relax your body and warm your soul. One hundred years ago, gold miners and early Alaskan pioneers rested their weary souls and bodies in natural outdoor hot springs. Today, you can carry on the tradition and soak away your own worldly worries at Chena Hot Springs.
Yet enjoying Fairbanks need not be a solitary pursuit and my winter excursion to the hot springs revealed a social enclave in which casual conversation invariably turned to the sky above, limned by greenish wisps that waved across the Milky Way like sheer curtains-the aurora borealis, an effect of electrically charged solar particles striking gases in the far-northern atmosphere.