Oscar's Hot Springs Photos
(page 3 of 6)

The photos on this page were taken on my visit to Alaska, in June-July 2001. The first three hot springs pictured, Chief Shakes, Goddard, and Baranof, are scattered throughout the southeastern Alaska panhandle. None of those three are readily accessible by land, but rather require a boat or floatplane trip (except one can be reached by a very long hike from Sitka). The last spring is Pilgrim Hot Springs, north of Nome in western Alaska. That last spring not always covered in hot springs guidebooks. Unlike the others, you can drive to the spring from Nome (but then, you can't drive to Nome from any other part of Alaska, so plan on renting a 4x4 in Nome), but only while the roads are open in the summer. Some of the other hot springs in Alaska are easily accessible from the main highway network, or the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system; the ones I visited, however, were before I started bringing my camera gear to the springs.

Unfortunately, I left my GPS receiver at home, so I can't provide coordinates, but directions either are provided below or are reasonably clear from the guidebooks. The guidebooks provide better coverage of Chief Shakes and Goddard than Baranof and Pilgrim, thus the lengthier writeups for the last two.

NOTE: In case you want more detail, you can click any photo below to view an enlarged, higher-quality (less .jpg compression) version. Those alternate versions have larger file sizes, so please be patient while they download.

Go back to photos page 1 (Colorado)
Go back to photos page 2 (Hawaii)
Continue to photos page 4 (Puerto Rico)
Continue to photos page 5 (California)
Continue to photos page 6 (Arizona/New Mexico -- some artistic nudity)

Chief Shakes (northeast of Wrangell)
The covered pool at Chief Shakes Hot Springs (enclosed with insect screening, though it was not completely effective), a short hike from a slough off the Stikine River. I arrived as about a dozen boys were finishing their soak in this pool, taking a break from their kayak trip downriver. There's a changing room (not shown here) in another section of the enclosure. Downhill from the enclosed pool is this smaller open-air hot tub, with Randy and three of his friends. Both tubs are fed by hot water piped in from the source spring uphill, with both hot and cold water hoses so you can adjust the temperature.

Goddard (south of Sitka)

A glimpse of one of the two enclosed tubs at Goddard Hot Springs, on Hot Springs Cove south of Sitka. Both tubs are about chest-high if you stand up rather than sit on the ledge inside each tub, and comfortably fit two to four soakers each. Hot and cold water are piped in from uphill, with separate faucets to adjust the temperature (both were about 115° when I stepped in).
Views of Hot Springs Cove from inside the tub enclosures, the lower pool (above) and the upper pool (below).


Another view of the cove from outside the upper pool enclosure, showing the lower pool enclosure and part of the boardwalk connecting the two pools. (There used to be two enclosed pools uphill from the cove, but one of the two was replaced by the lower pool shown here.) Hidden in the forest, via a short but muddy trail branching off the boardwalk just past the turnoff to the upper pool, is this squishy-bottom knee-deep warm pool (about 100°). It is somewhat roomier, but apparently less popular, than the enclosed tubs.

Baranof (east of Sitka)

The waterfall where the outlet from Baranof Lake rushes into Warm Springs Bay (after passing within several feet of the hot springs upstream), next to some of the homes in the small village of Baranof. This photo was taken from the dock that is pretty much the only way into Baranof (there is a very long trail over the mountains from Sitka across Baranof Island). Despite Baranof's isolation, the village and its springs can get quite a few visitors on a good day, especially when tour boats stop by.

Hot water is piped into the village downhill from Baranof Warm Springs. Until about a decade ago, there were commercial bathhouses in the village; now the only indoor tubs are part of private residences. The pools still available to the public are outdoors on public lands, about a 15-minute hike from the village.

Two similar views of the two main Baranof Warm Springs pools, at different times of the day (the one on the right was taken later in the day, and has someone in the lower pool to give you an idea of how large are the pools), from a vantage point opposite from the end of the side trail leading to the pools. The rapids on the upper right, right behind the lower pool, flow to the waterfall shown in the panoramic photo above.
Another view of the upper Baranof pool, and a little of the lower pool behind the edge of the upper pool, with the rapids roaring in the background. Both the upper and lower pools were a comfortable 110° (which seems pretty "hot" to me, so I'm not sure why the springs are labelled "warm"). I didn't measure the rapids, but they were very cold. Beneath the lower pool, and right next to the rapids, is a small slick-sided 108° riverside pool with room for one person standing up plus a very good friend wedged in sideways.

Pilgrim (north of Nome)

Pilgrim Hot Springs are on private property off a side road north of Nome (open to auto travel only in the summer, and even then a 4x4 is needed for the 60-mile one-way trip over gravel roads -- the property is also served by a small airstrip). The one hot tub available to the public is always closed after 8pm, and I assume also in the winter (but I don't know what is the season the springs are open to public use). Even before 8pm in the summer, access depends on whether one of the resident caretakers is around to let you on the property (and unfortunately there's no phone number to call ahead to make sure the tub will be open), so if you head out that way, make backup plans for sightseeing elsewhere in the vicinity in case the tub is closed when you stop by.

The springs are on Catholic Church property, which includes the remains of a Catholic mission listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Before the mission, there was a resort here that sprung up around 1900, which offered baths, a saloon, and a dance hall for local miners. (Alaska Wilderness Guide, 7th ed. 1993) Traces of the old bathhouses remain, as shown below.

The Pilgrim Hot Springs hot tub is out in the open, in the middle of a field. A stand of trees (unusual for the mostly treeless tundra around Nome) is between the tub and the caretakers' compound. On the tub side of the trees are both the scalding source spring for the tub and a small outhouse. The plastic-lined inside of the tub, with a ladder to climb down into the tub, and the hose pumping in hot water (the excess runs off into the field). There is no seating inside the tub, other than the ladder steps. However, most people can easily stand in the tub, with the water about shoulder-high (about four and a half feet). I measured the water temperature at about 111°.
Part of the magnificent view from the tub.

A warm slough (about 92°, with some warm water apparently bubbling up through the bottom), in front of the caretakers' compound. I saw the caretakers' kids playing here, and my guess is that only the tub pictured above is open to the public. However, these pools are worth a glance, to view the pilings that are what's left of the bathhouses that long ago catered to local miners.

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Page 1 (Colorado) · Page 5 (California) · Page 6 (Arizona/New Mexico -- some artistic nudity)

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© 2002, 2004, 2006-2007 Oscar Voss