Circle Hot Springs
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ARCTIC CIRCLE HOT SPRINGS

Arctic Circle Hot Springs is a rustic resort located 137 northeast of Fairbanks, along the scenic Steese Highway.

It is a long drive on a gravel road, but you will pass through pristine scenery along the Chatanika River and over 3624 ft. high Eagle Summit. Take a right at the mining village of Central and go east for 8 miles more.

CLOSED - UP FOR SALE BY OWNER

The following information about the resort is here only for historical interest, and for those wishing to make the scenic drive there and back.

Summit Watch
The resort offers a "call-ahead summit watch" service in the winter months. You should call the lodge for current road conditions prior to departure when driving out in the winter. Their number is (907) 479-7776. The route winds through some spectacular scenery and over two impressive mountain passes, and you have a good chance of seeing ptarmigan, grouse, moose, fox, caribou,  ducks, or even bears.

History - with a Ghost
The hotel was built in 1930. Much of the original material for the lodge came down the Yukon river to Circle City, then overland for 60 miles by wagon to the hot springs. The hotel has always been privately owned. It is rumored to have a resident female ghost. Circle Hot Springs must chlorinate their water, due to heavy public use. 

The hot springs themselves were used by area Athabascans long before the gold rush. William Greats was the first non-Native to discover the springs (in 1893) and the springs were probably used by local miners. In 1905, Cassius Monohan homesteaded 106 acres around the springs, and sold it to Franklin Leach in 1909, who developed a resort. 

The current resort bearing the name Arctic Circle Hot Springs Resort was built in the 1930's and is currently operated by Robert "Bobby" and LaVerna Miller who bought the resort in 1980. 

The Resort is named for the large (nearly Olympic size) pool which is fed by a natural hot springs. It is very relaxing and the view is beautiful. The main resort building has several guest rooms (shared bathrooms "down the hall"), a restaurant, bar, and sitting room. It has been called "very quaint," and the accommodations are good. As well as the main lodge building, there are several cabins, which could be described as "rustic," though serviceable, and are a bit more private than the lodge.

Location:

The community is approximately 216 km northeast of Fairbanks, and 29 miles southwest of Circle, on the Steese Highway and encompasses 53 sq. miles of land and 1 sq. mile of water. You can either drive to Circle Hot Springs, or take a airplane ride to Fort Yukon (just north of the resort) so you can say you have landed north of the Arctic Circle (most airlines will give you a certificate for it.) You can also make a day-long trip to Point Barrow and Prudhoe Bay from the resort.

The area is beautiful, and you can use Circle Hot Springs as a base camp for viewing much of eastern interior Alaska. A reasonably well-maintained, 3500-foot gravel strip is next to the resort, and if you buzz the resort, they'll come get you in their van. You will need to bring your own tie-downs, etc. No fuel is available at Circle Hot Springs, but if you want a unique Alaskan experience,  fuel up at the local store in Circle City.

Traveling to the Resort

Preparation: You should take a spare tire and jack as there are no service stations between the towns of Fox and Central. Temperatures in Central my be several degrees cooler than in Fairbanks, so take a sweater or jacket . You might also want a camera,  binoculars, and bug repellent. While supplies like film and food are available in Central and Circle City, you may get sticker shock! There are several campsites and recreation areas where you can kayak or canoe if you take the time to rent the equipment and take it with you. Remember to take your own water too, as there is no drinking water at the campsites.

Landmarks: Leave Fairbanks on the Steese Highway (AK 2 North). The sign that says "Circle 153 miles" refers to Circle City, which is north of Central, on the Yukon River. Approximately eight miles from town, there is a Trans-Alaska Pipeline viewing area on the right - a popular "photo op." On the left, just beyond, are signs for Gold Dredge 8 and the Historic Fox Roadhouse, popular tourist attractions featuring gold mining. The Roadhouse serves lunch and dinner, and the dredge offers tours and a chance to pan for gold. The rock piles you see in this area are tailing piles left by the gold dredges that worked through the Goldstream Valley. Millions of ounces of gold were taken from the ground in the 1900's by miners working by hand and with horses,  dog teams, and later dredges and high velocity water spouts.

If you are looking at the Fox Roadhouse, you are in Fox. At the weigh station, turn right onto AK 6 East (which is still the Steese Highway) to get to Central. A few miles down the road, is the Felix Pedro monument on the left. Felix Pedro is the miner who discovered gold in the Tanana Valley in 1902. starting a gold stampede that led to the settlement of Fairbanks. "Golden Days" is celebrated in Fairbanks every summer in honor of his discovery. Across the road from the monument, you can try your hand at panning for gold. Next the road heads uphill to 'Cleary Summit' and a popular ski and sledding resort, Skiland.

Around 28 miles from Fairbanks, are the Old FE Gold Camp (which has a pretty good Sunday Brunch) followed quickly by the Chatanika Lodge. The Lodge serves sandwiches, hamburgers, beer, pop, etc. Some years ago someone stuck a dollar bill on the wall. Other visitors followed suit and now the walls and ceilings are covered in dollar bills, most of them signed by the one who put them there. This is the last restaurant until Central.

Next is the Poker Flat Research Range on the right. This is a NOAA run facility, owned by the University. It is the only non-government owned research rocket range. They offer tours - call the Geophysical Institute (907-474-7243) at the University of Alaska for more information.

About 42 miles out you will reach the Upper Chatanika State Recreation Area, a good place for camping, hiking or fishing. The road runs along the Chatanika River. The Cripple Creek State campground is about 60 miles out,  and the Montana Creek Station is a State Campground about 80 miles out. There is a natural springs with a pipe outflow at a road turnout near there, in case you need to fill your water bottles, .

At about 82 miles, the road again starts climbing . Soon you will reach Twelve Mile summit, a peak above the tree line. In the valleys as you near 100 miles from Fairbanks you will see active mining operations on the right. Then the road rises more - to Eagle Summit - a popular viewing area during the summer solstice.  It is fun to watch the "midnight" sun move across the northern sky without ever setting.

Central, Alaska has a post office, service stations, two restaurants, a museum,  a landing strip for small planes, and lodging., but with prices higher than in Fairbanks, so be prepared. At the crossroads at "Crabb's Corner" (owned by Jim and Sandy Crabb),  a restaurant/bar,  turning right will point you in the direction of Arctic Circle Hot Springs (about 8 miles more) - heading straight ahead will put you at  Circle City.

Other Activities
In addition to relaxing in the hot springs, you can go on a boat ride or pan for gold. The area has good hiking, skiing and snowmobiling trails as well (bring your own equipment). But if you pan for gold in this largest gold mining district in Alaska (Circle Mining District), the hotel will give you bottles to carry your nuggets (or flakes) home in. You can also get a tour of a working gold mine.

Swimming - of Course!
As for the hot springs, the Olympic-sized pool is fed by a natural constant flow of hot water from the springs were the temperature is 139 degrees. The natural flow provides a complete turnover of water every 18 hours. There are on-site massage therapists available, along with additional services and a new exercise facility adjacent to the pool.

A day-use permit costs $5, and the pool is open from 8 a.m. until midnight. Call (907) 479-7776 for more information.

Special Note about Circle:
Do not confuse the resort with the town of Circle, on the Yukon River, which is a 34 mile drive over rough roads from Central. Circle, founded in 1893, was the largest gold mining town on the river, at least until gold was discovered in Dawson City. Over 1,000 people lived in the town, which was named in the mistaken belief that it was located on the Arctic Circle, which was really 40 miles to the north. (If you want to visit the Arctic Circle while you are in Fairbanks, well that is a different trip altogether!)

Early Circle even had an opera house! Today, Circle supports a population of about 80 and boasts a grocery store, two gas stations, motel and trading post, post office, cafe, campground, boat launch and general store. Circle is a starting point for travel on the Yukon River. Circle City Charters offers river transportation and tours in a covered and heated aluminum inboard jet boat. Visitors can travel upriver from Circle to the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.

Contact Information:

Their phone number is 907-520-5113.

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