First and foremost, do not plan on seeing this in the middle of summer. There is no nightime in the middle of summer. Winter is the best time to see the aurora with its long nights. The big hurdle is getting clear weather. if you get a clear night up here, there is an excellent chance of seeing the aurora. Chena Hot Springs is a popular spot for viewing the lights. They have an "auroratorium" where you can view them from large windows in a heated room. It is also fun to view them from the outdoor hot spring pool. Once seen, this is a sight that is never forgotten. Probably, this is the best compensation for those who live up here. Many people, including myself, believe that the Northern Lights are alone worth the trip to Alaska.
Down at the end of Chena Hot Springs Road, is the famous Hot Springs of the same name. There is an outdoor rock lake that we still use no matter what the temperature is and there are great trails for cross country skiing, snowmobiling, hiking and also a great observation area to view the Northern Lights!!!
There is a natural outdoor pool as well as an indoor pool and some outdoor hot tubs where the hot spring is located. This is a great place to relax. Of course, getting in and out of the pools is the hard part, especially with the arctic air around here. This is a choice location for watching the aurora. Because of the water temperature and the air temperature, these pools create a lot of steam.
There is a small ice skating pond, actually I do not know the size because it wasn't shoveled. We've had a wierd winter in Alaska and they said the ice wasn't good. Skates are available for hire. There is nothing more fun than skating on the pond.
One of the few privately owned hot springs in Alaska is in Chena Hot Springs.
It is a geothermal hot springs thus there isn't any sulfur smell.
One spring comes out of the ground at 42C. Hot, Hot, Hot!!
Laying in the snow, bundled up in enough down to feel like you are surrounded by a flock of geese, gazing upward into the sky at midnight, you will be mesmorized by the northern lights as they literally dance across the sky. There is no better place to see them then from Chena Hot Springs Resort about 60 miles from Fairbanks. It is possible to see them as early as September (before the snow falls) but they are really spectacular and frequent in March. Breathtakingly awesome.
There are a number of excellent winter trails around Chena Hot Springs. On our most recent visit (February 2006), we snowshoed up Charlie Dome, all the way to the yurt. The grade of the trail is pretty steep, but if you're in shape, the hike is well worth it. The snowmachines (snowmobiles and snowcats) break the trail, so you won't be slogging up the hill in powder.
I also recommend the trail up to Bear Paw; the grade on this trail is less than the grade for the Charlie Dome trail, and the views are spectacular.
Take a sled ride, or try your hand at mushing. You may see people mushing from the van on your ride to and from the resort. This is still done in Alaska.