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Chena Hot Springs Ski Run

Early 1980's

Name of Ski Area: Chena Hot Springs Ski Hill
Location: On the hillside directly south of Chena Hot Springs, 60 miles east of Fairbanks at the end of the Chena Hot Springs Road.
Type of Area: Ski Hill
Dates of Operation: Early 1980's
Who Built It?: Unknown
Base/Top/ Vertical Drop:

Base: ~1200' / Top: ~1600' / Vert: ~400'

Lifts: None.  Two trucks were rigged with benches and ski racks to transport skiers to the top of the hill.
Facilities: Chena Hot Springs Resort nearby.
Miscellaneous: Charlie Painter helped cut the ski trails - a main trail and a bunny slope run.  Charlie worked at the resort and said that these ski slopes got very little use at all (see his email below).

Presently a snowcat shuttles tourists to the top of this ridge for aurora viewing.  Occasionally  people ski back down the cat track to the Chena Hot Springs resort.

During the 1970's Roger Cotting, one of the owners of Chena Hot Springs, proposed to build a rope tow and later a lift.  But these plans never came to fruition.  The present owner (as of 2006) Bernie Karl hopes a ski area of some sort is running here in the future.

Sources of Information:

Roger Evans; Brenda L. Hewitt; Bruce Talbot (State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources); Charlie Painter; Brett Shepard; Tim Kelley

Photos: Does anyone have old pictures of skiing at Chena Hot Springs (or current pictures of the vicinity) that they would like to contribute to ALSAP ?


October 2006 Site Pictures

[Photo credits: Tim Kelley]

The ski slope can be seen behind, to the south, of the resort.

At the base of the ski hill there still is posted a disclaimer sign (click on this picture to expand it to readable size). From near the top of the ski hill looking back down at the resort. The access road to the top of the ski hill.

The access road / trail to the top of the ski hill continues on above tree line and on to Angel Rocks.  This trail is great for hiking or xc skiing.

April 2009 photo of Chena Hot Springs Ski Hill.


Chena Hot Springs Resort Cat Track Pictures by Brett Shepard

(Click on pictures to expand them)

The "Cat Track" - used to access the eastern ridge-tops for aurora viewing.  The Chena Hot Springs resort can be seen at the base of the valley.

Channel 11 News photographer Brian Hild getting ready to snowboard the  snowcat track - at minus 30 Fahrenheit!

~  Documents  ~

To the right is an excerpt from the 1982 State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources study entitled: "Ski Potential: Fairbanks Area".  This excerpt describes the ski area and the surroundings.

~  MAPS  ~

This topo map, from 1975, shows the area around Chena Hot Springs.  The estimated location of the snowcat operation ski run is shown.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_chena.jpg (170957 bytes)

Research Correspondence 

[Roger Evans - October 28, 2004 email excerpt] 

Chena never had a tow but has a cleared run with a cat trail to the top, on the pitch directly south (north facing) of the springs.  It is still used as a cat trail for visitors, but I don't know how many skiers still use it. 

[Brenda L. Hewitt - October 28, 2440 email excerpt] 

Roger Cotting, one of the owners during the 70's, proposed a rope tow and later a lift but it never came to fruition.  We do cross country on groomed trails and Bernie Karl, current owner, stills has his sights on one eventually but no, there hasn't been one.  Good luck on your project and thanks for thinking of us.  Brenda Hewitt

[Charlie Painter - 21 December 2004 email] 

Hi Tim, just looked at the page on Chena Hot Springs. I spent 21 months there back in 80-81-82 and was in fact hired to help cut the ski slope. stayed on as a maintenance helper. there was 5 or 6 of us using homelite chainsaws. 1 wide trail down the face just south of the resort and a bunny trail that looped around to the right as you looked down. The road was just a bit outside the bunny trail. We had 2 pickups, a chevy and a ford, with wooden (2x4s,2x6s) ski racks mounted on the side with benches in the bed for the skiers to sit on.  Never worked! Not enough snow? Too much wind? Not enough vertical. Not practical? I used to have a couple pictures in my double secret old-time archives complete with an archaic filing scheme. I'll try to find em.

[Brett Shepard - 02 August 2006 email] 
Hi Tim and Dave,
My name is Brett Shepard and I work at channel 11 in Anchorage.  Me and my photographer Brian Hild (he's the guy in the 2nd picture)  were at the resort shooting a story and I believe this is the cat track, which was supposed to be the ski are.  It's located at the same spot in the valley as is highlighted on the map.   The night before we rode a snowcat up the cat track to view the aurora.  Brian snowboarded down and I skied.  It was about -30 and I had just enough time to snap two photos before my hand started going numb.  I had a good time at the resort and had a chance to talk to the owner Bernie Karl.  It sounds as if he's still hopeful that some type of ski area will one day be up and running at the resort.  Anyways I love your website and I hope these pictures help you guys out. 



Do you have further information, stories or pictures that you would like to contribute about this ski area?