Chena Hot Springs, Alaska

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Chena Hot Springs, Alaska
Populated Place
Chena Hot Springs, Alaska, 2016
Chena Hot Springs, Alaska, 2016
Chena Hot Springs is located in Alaska
Chena Hot Springs
Chena Hot Springs
Location in the U.S. state of Alaska
Coordinates (USGS GNIS 1400199): 65°03′11″N 146°03′20″W / 65.05306°N 146.05556°W / 65.05306; -146.05556Coordinates: 65°03′11″N 146°03′20″W / 65.05306°N 146.05556°W / 65.05306; -146.05556
CountryUnited States
BoroughFairbanks North Star
Elevation1,158 ft (353 m)
Time zoneUTC-9 (Alaska (AKST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-8 (AKDT)
ZIP code
Area code907
GNIS feature ID1400199
Aerial View of Chena Hot Springs
Chena Hot Springs Rock Lake Pool

Chena Hot Springs is a hot spring, resort, and unincorporated community in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska, United States, 56.5 miles northeast of Fairbanks near the Chena River State Recreation Area. The resort makes use of the first low-temperature binary geothermal power plant built in Alaska,[2] and is working on several alternative energy projects, including production and use of hydrogen[3] and vegetable oil for fuel.[4] The resort is conducting collaborative experiments in greenhouse production of vegetables with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.[5]


Chena Hot Springs

Chena Hot Springs was founded over 100 years ago by two gold mining brothers, Robert and Thomas Swan. In 1905, Robert Swan was suffering from rheumatism and needed a place to calm his pain and be comfortable. The two brothers set out to find the hot springs. It took them a little over a month to reach the hot springs after searching for it in Interior Alaska’s harsh landscape. In 1911, twelve small cabins were built to accommodate visitors. The twelve cabins developed, and they became one of the most famous resorts in the interior of Alaska. Chena Hot Springs became so famous that the United States Department of Agriculture sent chemists to analyze the water. The characteristics of the water are very different from other American hot springs.[6]

Warning sign at Chena Hot Springs explaining that water is high in sodium and bicarbonates


Chena Hot Springs has never formally reported a population on the U.S. Census. The USGS reported it had an estimated summer population of 10 for the resort.[7]


The coordinates for Chena Hot Springs Alaska are 65'03 N and 146'03 W (65.05, -146.05). The average yearly temperature for the area is −4.9 °C (23.2 °F), with the highest temperature being in July at 20.4 °C (68.7 °F) and the lowest temperature being in January at −31.2 °C (−24.2 °F). Annually the average amount of precipitation is 357 millimetres (14.1 in). The average snowfall amount in Chena Hot Springs is 161.8 centimetres (63.7 in) annually.[8]

Chena Hot Springs has visibility of the Aurora borealis, especially around the March equinox.[9]

Aurora Ice Museum[edit]

The purpose of the Ice Museum is to boost the tourism of the resort and showcase the artwork of resident ice artists Steve and Heather Brice. The museum is open throughout the entire year, including the summer, when the temperature can reach up to 90ºF(32ºC). The present museum is made of a steel framework with hollow walls and consists of a great hall and a lounge. Some of the ice sculptures include a gigantic ice tower and life-size jousting knights. One of the rooms even has a non-functioning ice toilet. Visitors are offered the opportunity to purchase a vodka "appletini" in a hand carved ice glass for an additional fee during the tour.

Geothermal Power Plant[edit]

Chena Hot Springs Resort uses two 200kW Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) geothermal energy power plants to generate energy, the first in Alaska. The resort moved the diesel generators used in the past to a backup role since July 2006, and it is successful in reducing the cost from 30 cents/kWh to 5 cents/kWh.[10] The resort owners have future plans in increasing the work output of the powerplant from 200 kW to 1MW.[11] An increase to 730 kilowatts was accomplished.

DC6 On Display[edit]

DC6 Aircraft on Display at Chena Hot Springs, AK, USA

When Everts Air Cargo retired DC-6A N6174C “Good Grief” in 2016, the most likely destination was the Everts boneyard in Fairbanks. This was not to be and, with Rob Everts at the controls, the aircraft made its final flight from Anchorage to the small dirt airstrip at Chena Hot Springs Resort on October 2, 2016. During its 62 year flying career, the aircraft flew for no less than eight airlines and amassed a bit over 56,000 hours. After arriving, the DC-6 was hoisted about 50 feet into the air and set on three large pylons.[12]Youtube video of DC6 landing at Chena Hot Springs


  1. ^ "Chena". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2019-10-29.
  2. ^ Newsletter of the International Geothermal Association, Quarterly No. 66 (October - December 2006) page 10 Archived August 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Archived from the original on June 16, 2010. Retrieved March 28, 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "County News", National Association of Counties, Vol. 39 No. 10 • May 21, 2007 (page 9)[dead link]
  5. ^ Alaska Journal of Commerce February 20, 2005 "Chena builds a green-fueled greenhouse" Archived October 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Chena Hot Springs 2013
  7. ^,P3_TITLE:1400199,Chena%20Hot%20Springs
  8. ^ Weatherbase 2014
  9. ^ "Reviews mentioning "aurora"". TripAdvisor. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  10. ^ Chena Geothermal Power Plant Project Final Report, January 2007
  11. ^ Geoheat 2006
  12. ^ Alaska - Canada News, Former Everts DC-6A on Display at Chena Hot Springs Resort – May 12, 2019

External links[edit]