Hot Springs! The Interior may not have massive mountains or mammoth
glaciers. But we have our own natural wonders!
There are four developed hot springs in the Interior, the closest being 60
miles and the farthest 170 miles from downtown Fairbanks.
Resorts have sprung up around the springs and Alaskans as well
as visitors find them places of relaxation and escape. In general, the further from
town, the more rustic the resort.
A Spring for Every Taste
You can choose from a natural setting with water bubbling from
the rocks and you can sit in natural pools or you can travel to a more developed site
where springwater is piped into concrete pools or commercial hot tubs. Two resorts even
chlorinate their water.
For nature, you will have to hike: Tolovana Hot Springs, the most
rustic of the big four, is 11 miles off Mile 92 on the Elliott Highway (around 100 miles
from town). The Elliott Highway offers scenic views of the vast Minto Flats and, if you're
lucky, Denali, 200 miles south.
The site is owned by the federal government but leased to a local
entrepreneur. Two cabins have gas cooking stoves and lights, but visitors must bring their
own food, cooking gear, sleeping bags and bear spray.
You will probably have the springs to yourself--and you can spend long,
luxurious hours soaking in one of two wooden tubs perched above the gurgling stream. You
set the temperature using two tubes of hot and cold water.
There are some truly undeveloped springs--places where you scrape
the muck off the rocks and need to hunt to find a tent site. Check at the
Alaska Public Lands Information Center, at 250 Cushman St.
downtown, for help finding them.
Most people just drive to one of the other hot springs.
DO NOT CALL THE MOTEL OR THE WEBMASTER FOR
INFORMATION ON ANY OF THESE - THIS IS ALL WE HAVE! We particularly do
not offer any information on the one closest to Fairbanks.
2. The second closest is Circle
Hot Springs, approximately 140 miles down the Steese Highway. It has an
Olympic-size outdoor swimming pool. A rambling lodge built in 1930 of materials barged up
the Yukon River offers the additional attraction (?) of a female ghost who is said to
frequent the upstairs rooms.
Circle Hot Springs used to have to chlorinate their water, due to
heavy public use. Unfortunately, it is no longer in operation, and in
fact, is up for sale by the owner.
Call (907) 520-5113 for more information.
CLOSED - UP FOR SALE BY OWNER
3. Manley Hot Springs, at the end
of the Elliott Highway, is the most remote of the interior's road-accessible spas, and is
also one of the most rustic. The actual resort went bankrupt and is closed, but Chuck and
Gladys Dart run a spring-fed greenhouse and for $5 will let you soak in one of three
concrete baths. Since the baths are in the greenhouse, you get to sit among the grapes,
Asian pears and "lots of flowers" the Darts cultivate. The grapes are expected
to ripen in July, with the pears ready in August.
Though there are no accommodations in Manley Hot Springs, travelers
may be able to find lodging in the Roadhouse, but call ahead for
reservations. Stop in at the Visitors
Center log cabin on First Avenue downtown for more information; ask for the Manley Hot
Springs visitor guide, which is full of information. For more
information on this website, click on the link at the beginning of the
Pilgrim Hot Springs
This hot springs is not very close to Fairbanks, but worthy of note due
to its history and links to Fairbanks. It is not presently operational. By
2009, it was part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization of the
Fairbanks Catholic Diocese, brought on to settle multiple lawsuits. Rather
than sell the land, they plan a lease sale option to help them pay off their
creditors and claimants.
Pilgrim Hot Springs was located about 60 miles north of Nome, and was
originally known as Kruzgamepa Hot Springs. Homesteaded by Henry Beckus
(during the time of the gold rush on the Seward Peninsula at the turn of the
20th century), it catered to miners with a dance hall, spa baths, roadhouse,
and a saloon. The latter two burned to the ground in 1908. It was bought by
the James Halpin family in 1917 and deeded to the Catholic church.
Jesuit missionary, Rev. Bellarmine Lafortune, developed it into an
orphanage and boarding school to care for the children orphaned in the 1918
Influenza Pandemic. The complex, Our Lady of Lourdes Mission, closed in the
During the Second World War, the U.S. Army built an airstrip and housed
troops there. During the 1950's and 1960's, different agricultural projects
were attempted and it is today surrounded by thick vegetation - birch and
cottonwood trees, in an area that is otherwise treeless tundra. The few
weathered buildings that remain include a church, dormitory, mission school,
and an elevated pool. In 1977, Pilgrim Hot Springs was added to the National
Register of Historic Places.
Access today is by charter air service from Nome, or by an 8 mile gravel
road that connects to the Nome-Taylor road at Cottonwood.
The Diocesan administrators want to develop the property as a commercial
venture, with minimal environmental impact. In 2009 they were working with
the University of Alaska on a grant to explore the source of the hot springs
and long-term geothermal potential. If low cost geothermal energy can be
tapped, the area has the potential of supporting tourism, agriculture,
historical preservation. and to enhance the quality of life for the people
of the Seward Peninsula.
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