Snow, Ice, and Hot Springs (Alaska Part 2)

One of the primary reasons we decided to visit Alaska in February is that it’s a great time to see the aurora borealis (which I’ll discuss later this week). However, February is traditionally a very cold month in Alaska, so we packed layer upon layer to stay warm.

Fortunately, we were very lucky: Temperatures rarely dipped below 0, and they were often in the teens and 20s (Fahrenheit). It was still quite cold, and we were grateful for the toe warmers provided by our hosts, but it could have been much worse.

Visiting in winter meant that there was plenty of snow on the ground–so much, in some places, that we didn’t even realize how much snow was underneath us. Here’s me during the Castner Glacier hike–I stepped off the trail to get out of someone’s way, and I instantly sunk up to my waist. My feet weren’t even touching the ground.

Castner Glacier itself was stunning. It’s a massive ice cave at this point, and there’s even a cave inside the cave that required us to crawl through the darkness (not too deep).

We also made the 2-hour drive to Chena Hot Springs, which reminded me of a ski resort without the skiing. There was a lodge, various activities, and essentially the biggest hot tub ever (the hot spring itself).

Before we dipped into the warm water, we visited Chena’s ice sculpture museum. The museum is quite cold, and I had made the poor decision of wearing tennis shoes instead of snow boots, and my toes were freezing. However, I greatly enjoyed drinking an apple martini out of a glass made entirely of ice inside the museum.

Just as I was pretty sure my toes and fingers were going to completely freeze, we ventured into the hot springs. We dashed half-clothed through the snow before easing into the water, and wow did it feel amazing. I don’t have any photos, but you can see the steam rising from the pool from the exterior here:

I’d highly recommend the Castner Glacier hike if you visit the Fairbanks area, and Chena Hot Springs was neat too. I have one other ice-related topic to cover, but I’ll save that for later this week.

Have you ever been on/in a glacier or in a hot spring?

1 thought on “Snow, Ice, and Hot Springs (Alaska Part 2)”

  1. I can’t believe you’re making me want to take a vacation to Fairbanks. I already have too many places on my list!


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