What to do in Chena River State Recreation Area

*This information provided by The Alaska Department of Natural Resources*

Are you interested in a day of hiking and rock-climbing at Granite Tors? Or would you prefer to harness up the dog team and escape into the snowy horizon? With 397 square miles of forests, rivers, and alpine tundra, the recreation area has something to offer everyone. The variety of activities draws more than 150,000 people to the Chena River State Recreation Area every year.

The park follows the Chena River, a clearflowing, class II river ideal for kayaking, canoeing, or fishing for abundant arctic grayling. Chena Hot Springs Road parallels the river, providing boaters and anglers many entry and exit points from which to choose.

Dipping the hook for grayling can be an invigorating experience in the summer. In addition to the river, four small ponds have been stocked at mileposts 30, 45.5 and 47.9. The river is catch and release only, but fish caught in the gravel ponds may be kept.

In winter months, two major dog sled races use portions of the old Chena Hot Springs Winter Trail. Ski touring is also popular. The recreation area contains numerous winter trails, providing opportunities for motorized and nonmotorized recreation.

Wildlife is abundant in the Chena River Recreation Area. Visitors frequently find moose munching in the beaver ponds and sloughs along Chena Hot Springs Road. Black and grizzly bears also inhabit the area, though they are seldom seen. Grizzly bears have been spotted by backcountry hikers in alpine areas. Black bears are found in areas with abundant vegetation.

Campgrounds in the area can accommodate all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts, from tent campers to those with deluxe recreational vehicles. Three developed campgrounds exist in the recreation area: Rosehip Campground at milepost 27 Chena Hot Springs Road, Tors Trail Campground at milepost 39, and Red Squirrel Campground and Picnic Area at milepost 43. See the chart on page 2 for more information. Opportunities for camping in undeveloped areas can be found along the many gravel bars and river access roads.

Chena River State Recreation Site (also known as Chena Wayside) is located in Fairbanks on University Avenue.

The climate in Alaska varies with terrain and region. The south-central region of the state is most temperate because it is protected from cold northern winds by the Alaska Range. The large bodies of water that lies closely to this area create a stabilizing factor for the air temperature. Southeast Alaska is wet. An average of 80 inches of rain comes to this region directly from the Gulf of Alaska.

In contrast to the southeastern region, the interior receives very little precipitation. The winters are long in this region with spring, summer and fall taking place from May through September. The western coast of Alaska experiences long, cold winters and short, chilly summers. This area is very far north and at the mercy of huge water bodies that don't warm. Southwestern Alaska experiences foggy, wet summers with high temperatures reaching 60 degrees F. Winters are severe on this long peninsula of land with storms rising from the surrounding waters frequently. The average rainfall for the region is 75 inches/year.

3700 Airport Way
Fairbanks, AK 99709-4699

Phone: 907-451-2705

Fax: 907-451-2706

  • Chena River State Recreation Area Travel Q&A