Concierge.com's insider take:
During the gold rush, it wasn't uncommon for a hopeful miner to spend 18 hours a day in a dark shaft, shivering. But about 60 miles north of Fairbanks, there was a cure: Chena Hot Springs. Now a popular getaway for locals and travelers looking to experience the boonies without the inconvenience of a two-seater airplane and a tent, Chena is a classic gold rush–style lodge in the middle of nowhere. (Directions from Fairbanks are basically to drive toward the Arctic Circle and turn right.) Befitting the location, the 80 rooms are simple—similar to a budget motel down south. In summer, you can opt to sleep in one of the Mongolian-style yurts (bring your own sleeping bag). The real draw here are the tubs outside, which fill with mineralized hot water that's considered great for rheumatism, psoriasis, and generally lazing about. Unlike a lot of Alaskan resorts, Chena is open year-round, and winter is the best time to come: There are fewer day-trippers (passes are $10 per day); the contrast between the hot water and cold landscape is marvelous; and night after night, the aurora borealis lights up the sky.—Edward Readicker-Henderson
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