Manley Hot Springs
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Manley Hot Springs

Half the fun of going to Manley Hot Springs is the trip there! 

Take the Elliott Highway north and west of Fairbanks for a drive through mountainous vistas and valleys explored 100 years ago by gold miners.

The road offers scenic views of the vast Minto Flats and sometime even Denali, 200 miles to the south. At the end of the 150-mile road, on the banks of the Tanana River, is the tiny village of Manley Hot Springs.

Down the Elliot
The Elliott Highway begins at Fox, 10 miles northwest of Fairbanks on the Steese Highway. Gravel except for the first 28 miles, it is open year-round, but if you are driving it during the winter months, check with the Department of Transportation in Fairbanks, (907) 456-7623 for road conditions. Wind and snow can close the pass over Eureka Dome (2,393 ft. elevation).

Near the treeless 3,207-foot Wickersham Dome is a turnout for the White Mountains National Recreation Area. The highway then parallels the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, offering plenty of viewing opportunities. The Haul road pavement ends at the turn off for Livengood. At mile 70 are remnants of this old mining town. Don't bother stopping; no tourist services or facilities are available. Most of the land is privately held as mining claims and trespassers aren't usually welcome. But watch for the junction with the Dalton two miles farther down the Elliott and be sure to turn left. Short sections of the road are paved between Livengood and Manley - there is only about 60 miles yet unpaved.

Manley Hot Springs
Manley Hot Springs is at the end of the Elliott, 152 miles from Fox. About 100 people live in there, along with a handful of dog teams. The village has one hotel, laundromat with showers, a gas station, school (UAF rural adult education classes available), post office, well house, landfill, grocery store, and a health clinic run by the village council. There is a public campground (several actually, one with boat ramp, covered picnic shelter and playground) near the bridge over Manley Slough, maintained by the Manley Hot Springs Park Association. There is also a maintained airstrip and hangar (a 45 minute flight from Fairbanks). You can get the Manley Visitors Guide while you were in Fairbanks (at the Visitor Center).

There are several professional kennels which offer tours, and a mushing museum with original artwork. There is a small trading post that carries a variety of groceries,  liquor and fuel, and a village washeteria and clinic, located across the Elliott from the Walter Woods Park, a little less than two miles from the heart of Manley. Restrooms and showers are available as well. A tire repair service is also available in the  community, as well as Manley Boat Charters that offer full  service  guided fishing and sightseeing trips. This business, operated by  Frank and Dian Gurtler can be reached by calling 672-3271.

Manley RoadhouseManely Roadhouse
Though there are no accommodations in Manley Hot Springs, travelers may be able to find lodging in the Roadhouse, but call ahead for reservations. The Manley Roadhouse, built in 1906, is one of Alaska's oldest original roadhouses. The structure was once owned by Daniel Green, a musher who ran a leg of the 1925 diphtheria serum run commemorated by the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Manley was once a busy trading center for the Eureka and Tofty mining districts, and pieces of equipment from that era can still be seen at the Roadhouse. They offer modern rooms with baths, the original rooms with shared baths and cabins, and a full-service restaurant and bar which the owner likes to brag is the best stocked bar in the North. The Roadhouse is  open from May to October, but will open in the winter for large groups. For more information or reservations call the roadhouse at (907) 672-3161.

  Manley Hot Springs Resort
Manley Hot Springs is the most remote of the interior's road-accessible spas, and is also one of the most rustic. The actual resort went bankrupt and is closed, but Chuck and Gladys Dart run a spring-fed greenhouse and for $5 will let you soak in one of three concrete baths. Since the baths are in the greenhouse, you get to sit among the grapes, Asian pears and "lots of flowers" the Darts cultivate. The grapes are expected to ripen in July, with the pears ready in August. While the the resort property is not for sale and in any case would require massive  reconstruction, we have been told that there is some private undeveloped property for sale with possible access to hot water with drilling.

Stop in at the Fairbanks Visitors Center  in downtown Fairbanks for more information; ask for the Manley Hot Springs visitor guide, which is full of information.

 

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