Chena Hot Springs Road

Head out the Steese Expressway from Fairbanks to Milepost F 4.9 to junction with Chena Hot Springs Road. This good, all-weather paved road leads east through Chena River State Recreation Area, an exceptional year-round recreation area for picnicking, camping, hiking, canoeing and fishing the popular arctic grayling fishery (catch-and-release only). Good wildlife viewing, particularly moose. The Chena is popular with paddlers, but should not be underestimated: The river is cold and the current very strong. For links to maps and other information on the recreation area, visit dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/chena/index.htm.

The road ends at Mile 56.6 at Chena Hot Springs Resort, a major Fairbanks attraction known for its innovative uses of geothermal energy and for its famous Aurora Ice Museum. Chena Hot Springs Resort is open daily year-round with modern accommodations, hotsprings pools (indoor and outdoor), RV parking, and camping, dining, horseback riding and many other activities in summer and winter.

Miles from Steese Expressway junction (J) shown

J 0.1 Junction of Chena Hot Springs Road with the Steese Expressway.

J 3 Gas station to south; propane, liquor, groceries.

J 23.4 TWO RIVERS (pop. 703); post office.  This unincorporated community is home to a number of dog mushers. Store to south; gas/diesel, propane, groceries, liquor, firewood and ice.

J 23.9 Laundromat and showers, beauty shop. Long grassy strip with picnic tables for the public. 

J 26.1 Entering the 254,000-acre Chena River State Recreation Area.

J 26.5 Flat Creek. Large paved parking area with ATV ramp to north; no overnight parking. Winter trail for snow machines. Information signs.

J 26.7 Flat Creek Slough. Large parking area with loop road to boat launch ($5 fee). Toilets here, life jackets for loan.

J 27 Turnoff to south for Rosehip State Campground. Rest area on paved shoulder by campground entrance; toilets and information signs. Day-use area has covered picnic tables and firepits. Canoe and raft launch area. This is the Mile 27 River Access canoe and rafting exit point.

J 27.8 Mile 28 River Access to south 0.6 mile. NOTE: This river access is too steep for large RVs. Large parking area turn-around; outhouse. Canoe and raft exit point. Two adequate primitive camping spots on the road. Access to gravel bar parking at end. Popular sunbathing spot.

J 28.5 River Access (signed Gravel Bar River Access; may require high-clearance vehicle) leads south 0.7 mile to canoe launch, outhouse, parking.

J 31.4 Mile 31.4 River Access, 0.2 mile to loop turnaround and canoe launch; undeveloped, no sandbar access.

J 33.9 Four Mile Creek. Watch for moose grazing here.

J 35.8 Scenic viewpoint to south; paved parking, interpretive signs about tamaracks and tors.

J 37.7 Mile 37.7 River Access. Turnoff to south on dirt road, turn left at fork and continue past outhouse for access to river, launch area and informal camping on gravel bar. NOTE: Small turnaround area on dirt road, larger turnaround on gravel bar (if bar is unchanged). When camping on gravel bars, be aware of changing water levels due to snowmelt in spring or heavy rainfall in summer!

J 37.9 First bridge over the North Fork Chena River.

J 38.2 Mile 38.2 River Access. Side road to spacious gravel parking area along river. Primitive camping. Plenty of turnaround space. Room for many units. Also, wide road on top of levee between pond and river. This area is built up and above the river. There are no gravel bars or sloping river access.

J 39.4 Second bridge over North Fork Chena River. Turnoff to north just east of bridge for double-ended loop road through Tors Trailhead State Campground. Beautiful riverside day-use picnic area, toilets, firepits and large paved parking area adjacent camping area. Day-use fee $5. Trailhead parking for Granite Tors Trail.

J 39.6 Mile 39.6 River Access; good, brushy 0.2-mile side road (take the right fork) leads south to Chena River primitive camping area with pit toilet and a riverbank of flat rocks ideal for sunbathing. Easy small boat launch. Be alert for changes caused by flooding.

J 39.7 Parking and toilet at Tors Trailhead Campground Road exit to north.

J 42.8 Red Squirrel Campground; good gravel road leads north to pleasant picnic and camping area.

J 43 Side road leads south to Mile 43 River Access.

J 44 Third bridge over North Fork Chena River. Mile 44 River Access. Gravel parking area with toilets to north, outhouse, canoe and raft launch, primitive camping near river. Sign here lists approximate times for float trips to different locations down the river. Fishing.

J 45.5 Mile 45.5 Pond. Public fishing access to south via good gravel road (watch for potholes). Firepit grill, picnic table, primitive camping, turnaround space.

J 45.7 Bridge across North Fork Chena River (signed).

J 47.8 Public fishing access to 48-Mile Ponds 0.1 mile south via good gravel road. There are 2 beautiful ponds, with 6 camping spots with firepits and picnic tables.

J 48.9 Fourth bridge over North Fork Chena River. Turnoff to south at west end of bridge for parking and picnic area at Angel Rocks Trailhead. Angel Rocks trail is a 3.5-mile loop trail to spectacular rock outcroppings; moderately difficult hike (elevation gain of 900 ft.).

J 49.1 Good gravel side road leads 0.2 mile north to a loop turnaround at Lower Chena Dome Trailhead; parking, pump water and toilets. This 30-mile loop trail is a strenuous hike that circles the Angel Creek drainage. Bring mosquito repellent!

J 50.5 Turnoff to north for Upper Chena Dome and Angel Creek Trailhead; parking area to north adjacent road; toilets, bear-proof garbage cans and registration kiosk. Bring mosquito repellent!

J 50.6 Leaving Chena River SRA eastbound.

J 52.3 Bridge over West Fork Chena River. Access to riverbank to south at west end of bridge.

J 53.3 Large, paved double-ended turnout to the northwest; loading ramp for ATVs.

J 55.4 North Fork Chena River bridge.

J 56.6 Entrance to Chena Hot Springs Resort. home of the Aurora Ice Museum and ice-carved appletini glasses (between 12,000 and 15,000 of these unique glasses are carved each year). Chena Hot Springs Resort offers camping, lodging, indoor and outdoor hot springs pools, hydroponic gardens and advanced thermal energy innovations. Bernie and Connie Karl, owners, annually host a renewable fair here and there are many activities year-round. Wonderful flower displays in summer, internationally known aurora watching site in winter.