ARCTIC CIRCLE HOT
Arctic Circle Hot Springs is a rustic resort located 137 northeast of Fairbanks, along the scenic Steese
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
A day-use permit costs $5, and the pool is open from 8 a.m. until midnight.
Call (907) 479-7776 for more information.
Their phone number is 907-520-5113.