If you’re traveling by seaplane, there are several easily-accessible hot springs near Juneau, Alaska. If not, seeking out a good place to soak becomes an exciting experience complete with road trips and boat rides.
There is no shortage of geothermal activity in the region, and any spring you choose to visit is sure to support stunning photo ops and relaxing waters. For those looking for a few more traditional resorts, consider the hot springs near Fairbanks. It’s another mineral springs hot spot in Alaska.
Tenakee Hot Springs Bathhouse
The 6’x9’x5’ pool in the Tenakee Hot Springs Bathhouse is 106℉ and serves as a social meeting place for locals in the tiny town it’s named after. Concrete and stone create a rather minimalistic feel with clean lines that have been maintained by volunteers since the 1930s. It’s warm and open for visitors year-round.
There are no accommodations or restaurants in partnership with the bathhouse, but there are plenty of nearby options to choose from. Another nearby point of interest is the Tenakee Inlet. Kayaking, fishing, hiking, and whale watching can help turn your short soak stop into many days of Alaskan adventure.
White Sulphur Springs
To get to White Sulphur Springs, you’ll need a boat. The 0.9-mile trail that leads to the rustic White Sulphur Springs cabin and the hot springs begins at Mirror Harbor. Anyone planning to spend the night should bring food and any supplies you might bring camping. For cold weather, a wood stove is available.
The hike isn’t strenuous and offers other paths to follow for those wanting to extend their walk after dropping their things at the cabin. A quality fishing spot known for salmon is around two hours hike away, and it’s a highly anticipated activity depending on the time of year. Beware of bears who are also looking to participate.
Two, temperature-controlled pools are fed by the spring, one natural and outdoors and the other covered and in a semi-open wooden bathhouse. Both are a short walk from the cabin and have views of the ocean.
Baranof Warm Springs
In Sitka, of the nine springs that are part of Baranof Warm Springs–lukewarm to 124℉ water–only two are developed, and some are unsuitable for soaking. You’ll need a boat to get here, too.
The pools nestled into a forest overlooking a raging waterfall. Some pools have a view of the Baranof River and are adjacent to a cold plunge pool, the perfect setup for hot-cold circuits. A bathhouse sits on the river itself for those not interested in the 0.25-mile trek to the other pools or who simply want the extra seclusion of one of the three private pools.
Overnight guests, cabins, or rooms in a lodge can be rented at Baranof Wilderness Lodge. Bajr’s kitchen provides hearty meals, and on-site hot tubs make sitting around and enjoying the view of Warm Springs Bay even better. Fishing, angling, and kayaking are also available within a few steps.
Goddard Hot Springs
Take a boat 16 miles south from Sitka, and you’ll find Goddard Hot Springs. You can also get here by floatplane. The City of Sitka itself owns the property these two open-air cedar bathhouses sit on and are well-maintained by staff. Cool water is combined with 153℉ spring water as it flows into the stainless steel tubs to make it suitable for bathing.
Views of the dense pine forests surrounding it and Hot Springs Bay are breathtaking. Campsites are available in a grassy meadow near the springs, though the wooden boardwalk that leads to and from the tubs doesn’t extend to the camping area; you may need boots. There is, however, an outhouse available for bathers and campers.
Chief Shakes Hot Springs
Chief Shakes Hot Springs is another gem of a spot only approachable by boat and a 0.3-mile hike from a slough off of the Stikine River. It’s hidden away in the Stikine-LeConte Wilderness of the Tonga National Forest; Wrangell is the nearest town, and it’s popular with the locals.
Here, you’ll discover two spring-fed hot tubs, one enclosed with a screened-in porch area and the other under the open sky. Both are seven feet in diameter and allow for temperature adjustment by controlling the flow of the 140℉ spring water and cold water tap. Dressing rooms are also open to guests.
While there’s no luxury accommodation in the area, you can pitch a tent anywhere within 100 feet of the tubs or the paths leading to them. With two outhouses, a picnic table, and a fire ring in the area, the springs area is a great place to spend a night or two. Slightly upriver, the forest service keeps two cabins for those who prefer to sleep with a more solid roof over their heads.
Shelokum Hot Springs
Shelokum Hot Springs sits 90 miles north of Ketchikan in the Tongass National Forest. Take the 2.2-mile trail up from Bailey Bay–south of Shelokum Creek–towards Lake Shelokum. Access can also be found by boat or floatplane but will tack on an extra half a mile to the hike. Deep in the forest, this site doesn’t receive heavy traffic, allowing a plant and algae population to survive in the pool.
The natural geothermal spring water leaves the ground at 198℉, but bathers can control the tub temperature with cold and hot water valves.
It’s very possible to hike in and out in a single afternoon, but guests who want to spend the night can camp inside the three-sided Shelokum Shelter. It’s rustic, without restrooms or water, and you’ll need to find firewood to stay warm in colder weather. Bear spray and bug repellent will come in handy and are also recommended.
If you have the time, adding on a side trip from Juneau to one of these spectacular hot springs is well worth the trek. The boat or plane ride to the access point is a wonderful way to enjoy the scenery and spy on the wildlife you might otherwise have missed.