Tolovana Hot Springs
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Tolovana Hot Springs

Tolovana Hot Springs is  approximately 50 air miles northwest of Fairbanks, on the southeast slope of Tolovana Hot Springs Dome. (see map below). A trip to Tolovana Hot Springs should be considered a wilderness adventure as it is accessible only by trail or bush plane, and there are noMap to Tolovana Hot Springs emergency communication or on-site personnel. The accommodations are rustic and simple. Bathe in a natural hot springs and to enjoy the outdoors. The cabins are rustic, the hot tubs outdoors, exposed to the weather, the stars, and the dancing aurora borealis. The operators consider getting out of the hot tub on a cold night as part of the experience. 

Detailed directions for getting to Tolovana Hot Springs can be found near the bottom of the page. The hot springs themselves are located approximately 1/4 mile up the hot springs valley from the rental cabins in a clearing in a forest of large spruce and aspen trees. Enjoy the south-facing hillsides of grasses, mint, sedges, rock, algae and steaming hot water. The hot springs flow from the west bank for 30 feet to the valley bottom where they create a small creek. 

Accommodations

There are two cabins, two hot tubs, two outhouses, and a drinking water spring barrel. There are no other facilities or services.

Cedar cabin--18' x 24' cedar cabin (Pan Abode Kit Home)

bulletSleeps 8 (sleeping pads provided)
bulletPropane lights (4)
bulletKitchen
bulletPropane stove, 4 burner/oven (propane provided)
bulletPots, pans, cups, bowls, plates, utensils
bullet5 gallon water jugs
bulletSink, dish pans, soap
bulletWood stove

Frame cabin--12' x 14' frame cabin

bulletSleeps 4 (sleeping pads provided)
bulletPropane lights (2)
bulletKitchen
bulletPropane stove, 2 burner (propane provided)
bulletPots, pans, cups, bowls, plates, utensils
bullet5 gallon water jugs
bulletDish pans, soap
bulletWood stove

Firewood is provided, but may need to be cut to stove length. Handsaws and axes are provided.

Amenities

The hot springs have a temperature of 125-145 degrees Fahrenheit (62 degrees Celsius) and a pH of 7.4. The water is high in sodium chloride and low in sulfur dioxide; there is no sulfur odor. Two hot tubs are provided. Temperature is adjustable in both. Both tubs provide privacy, making clothing optional

Square Tub--a 5x7 cedar tub sits in the stream just below the hot springs. Hot water from the springs and cooler stream water is constantly piped by gravity to the hot tub. 

Round Tub--a 6' diameter round cedar tub is located on the bank of the hot springs creek 100 yards downstream from the hot springs. Hot water from the springs and cooler stream water is constantly piped by gravity to a collecting vessel and is then piped to the round tub. 

The operators of Tolovana Hot Springs want to preserve the natural, rustic, setting at Tolovana. Their goal is to preserve the natural hot springs water and the surrounding area while offering visitors access and accommodations that allow them to experience the hot springs, yet minimize impact. To do this, users much follow rules, and use is coordinated and controlled. 

Rules

Use of the hot springs and cabins is by reservation only. The majority of their business is during the winter/spring months. Repeat business means that weekends are reserved far in advance, leading to a 3 month policy of reservations. Here are the rules they have posted:

bulletBe safe on the trail. Assume someone is coming the other direction.
bulletDo not leave trash, food, or anything behind. You haul it in--you haul it out.
bulletNo soaps allowed in the hot tubs or creek. This is a natural hot springs.
bulletNo loose dogs. Dog waste around the cabins is a problem.
bulletThe hot springs is a fragile environment. Dogs are not allowed at the hot springs.
bulletDog mushers must use designated areas for teams and waste disposal.
bulletSnow machines not allowed to use the trails surrounding the springs after 10 PM.
bulletNo smoking in the cabins. (requested by many).
bulletNo shooting in the hot springs area.

 Reservations are confirmed upon receipt of full payment and a signed Rental Agreement. Upon reservation confirmation,  a photocopied map with the 11 mile trail marked on it will be mailed to you. Prices are higher during the peak season.

Peak season:

bulletThanksgiving (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
bulletChristmas (24th and 25th)
bulletNew Years (31st, 1st)
bulletSpring (15 February through 30 April)

The summer/fall months are the least busy, because of more difficult access (hiking is the only viable method).

Weekend Reservations

Advance reservations for a single Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night can only be confirmed one week in advance. A two night stay on the weekend has reservation priority over a single night stay.

Extra People

Prices are based on a maximum of 8 people in the cedar cabin and 4 people in the frame cabin. Additional people are allowed at a cost of $10 per person per night for a maximum of 16 people in the cedar cabin and a maximum of 8 people in the frame cabin. A partial discount is offered for extremely cold weather. See their website for details.

How to get there:

11 Mile Trail

Primary access is by the 11-mile year-round trail suitable for hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, ski-skijoring, snow machining, and dog mushing. The trailhead is 100 road miles from Fairbanks on the Elliot Highway (milepost 93). There are long steep hills and the route goes over Tolovana Hot Springs Dome. In the summer there is a 3 mile stretch of boggy terrain. This trail was constructed in 1969 to access the hot springs.

26 Mile Trail (winter only)

This trail is ideal for dog mushing, snow machining, and skiing. The trail head is 75 road miles from Fairbanks on the Elliot Highway at the Livengood (West Fork) Airstrip (milepost 74). This trail has long straight flat stretches along the historic Livengood-Dunbar Sled Road, which runs down the Tolovana River Valley. The trail was built in 1917 to support the mining activity in Livengood.

50 Mile Trail (winter only)

This trail is best for dog mushing, snowmachining, and skiing. The trailhead is 30 miles road miles from Fairbanks on the top of Murphy Dome (end of Murphy Dome Road). Its starts and ends on the top of Murphy Dome (2,930) and has long runs on the Livengood-Dunbar Sled Road down the Tolovana River Valley. If you travel this route, you will need to be very well prepared.

Future Plans

Tom DeLong of Tolovana Hot Springs, Ltd., reports that they hope to complete construction on a new airstrip one mile from the springs. The idea is to link up with air charters and offer access for shorter day-long visits, as well as multiple trips. But they still plan to keep it a small, rustic venture, to preserve the very reason people come.

The last we heard was that the resort was owned by Ester residents. For more information and to make reservations, visit their web site, or call Tolovana Hot Springs, at 455-6706.

 

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