Manley Hot Springs
Half the fun of going to Manley Hot Springs is the trip there!
Take the Elliott
Highway north and west of Fairbanks for a drive through mountainous vistas and valleys
explored 100 years ago by gold miners.
The road offers scenic views of the vast Minto Flats and sometime even Denali, 200
miles to the south. At the end of the 150-mile road, on the banks of the Tanana River, is
the tiny village of Manley Hot Springs.
Down the Elliot
The Elliott Highway begins at Fox, 10 miles northwest of Fairbanks on
the Steese Highway. Gravel except for the first 28 miles, it is open year-round, but if
you are driving it during the winter months, check with the Department of Transportation
in Fairbanks, (907) 456-7623 for road conditions. Wind and snow can close the pass over
Eureka Dome (2,393 ft. elevation).
Near the treeless 3,207-foot Wickersham Dome is
a turnout for the White Mountains National Recreation Area. The highway then parallels the
trans-Alaska oil pipeline, offering plenty of viewing opportunities. The Haul
road pavement ends at the turn off for Livengood. At mile 70 are remnants of this
old mining town. Don't bother
stopping; no tourist services or facilities are available. Most of the land is privately
held as mining claims and trespassers aren't usually welcome. But watch for the junction
with the Dalton two miles farther down the Elliott and be sure to turn left.
Short sections of the road are paved between Livengood and Manley - there is
only about 60 miles yet unpaved.
Manley Hot Springs
Manley Hot Springs is at the end of the Elliott, 152 miles
from Fox. About 100 people live in there, along with a handful of dog teams. The village
has one hotel, laundromat with showers, a gas station, school (UAF rural adult education classes available),
post office, well house, landfill, grocery store, and a health clinic run
by the village council. There is a public
campground (several actually, one with boat ramp, covered picnic shelter and playground) near the bridge over Manley Slough, maintained by the Manley Hot Springs Park
Association. There is also a maintained airstrip and hangar (a 45 minute flight from Fairbanks).
You can get the Manley Visitors Guide while you were in Fairbanks (at the Visitor Center).
There are several professional kennels which offer tours, and a mushing
museum with original artwork. There is a small trading post that carries a variety of groceries,
liquor and fuel, and a village washeteria
and clinic, located across the Elliott from the Walter Woods Park, a little less than two
miles from the heart of Manley. Restrooms and showers are available as well. A
tire repair service is also available in the community, as well as
Manley Boat Charters that offer full service guided fishing
and sightseeing trips. This business, operated by Frank and Dian
Gurtler can be reached by calling 672-3271.
Though there are no accommodations in Manley Hot Springs, travelers may be
able to find
lodging in the Roadhouse, but call ahead for reservations.
The Manley Roadhouse, built in 1906, is one of Alaska's oldest
original roadhouses. The structure was once owned by Daniel Green, a musher who ran a leg
of the 1925 diphtheria serum run commemorated by the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Manley was once a busy trading center for the Eureka and Tofty
mining districts, and pieces of equipment from that era can still be seen
at the Roadhouse. They offer modern rooms with baths, the original rooms
with shared baths and cabins, and a full-service restaurant and bar which
the owner likes to brag is the best stocked bar in the North. The
Roadhouse is open from May to October, but will open in the winter
for large groups. For more
information or reservations call the roadhouse at (907) 672-3161.
Manley Hot Springs Resort
Manley Hot Springs 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. While
the the resort property is not for sale and in any case would require
massive reconstruction, we have been told that there is some private
undeveloped property for sale with possible access to hot water with
Stop in at the Fairbanks Visitors Center
in downtown Fairbanks for more information; ask for the Manley Hot
Springs visitor guide, which is full of information.