This recreation area offers year-round outdoor adventures only 30 minutes from Fairbanks
A mere half-hour drive from Fairbanks, Chena River State Recreation Area is a popular destination for those seeking adventure within a short distance of Alaska's second largest city. From Mile 26 to Mile 51, the paved Chena Hot Springs Road winds through the middle of Chena River State Recreation Area, allowing locals and visitors alike easy access to the 254,080-acre preserve.
The Chena River is a clear flowing, class I-II river ideal for kayaking, canoeing and fishing for abundant arctic grayling. Its valley is populated with spruce and birch forests, and dotted with wetlands and marshes. The backdrop of rolling hills and tundra uplands provide rich habitat for resident wildlife. The recreation area is accessed by Chena Hot Springs Road, which parallels the river, providing users many entry and exit points for fishing, boating, camping and access to the large trail system.
The recreation area is home to a variety of wildlife, from small animals like the squirrel, willow grouse and beaver, to large animals like bear and moose. Eagles can be sighted soaring overhead.
Moose are frequently spotted near beaver ponds and sloughs where they feed on shrubs and aquatic plants. Black and brown bears also inhabit the area – backpackers occasionally encounter grizzlies feeding on berries in the treeless uplands – along with hoary marmots, pika or “rock rabbits,” and rock ptarmigan. Other mammals include wolves, caribou, beavers and red foxes.
The Chena River is renowned for its catch-and-release Arctic grayling fishery. The area also features four road-accessible ponds that are stocked annually with rainbow trout and Arctic grayling and open for fishing.
Summertime in the Chena River State Recreation Area provides ample outdoor adventures, including hiking, fishing, backpacking, canoeing, hunting, rock-climbing and wildlife viewing. In the winter, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, northern lights viewing and dog mushing are popular activities in Chena River State Recreation Area. The clear-running Chena River is popular with paddlers who float it in canoes, kayaks and rafts and access it from several points within the recreation area (and four bridges that cross the river outside of the park) for a trip of almost any length.
Chena River has an excellent trail system, among which Granite Tors Trail is one of the most popular. This 15-mile loop, a five- to eight-hour trek, provides access to the Plain of Monuments, where towering granite pinnacles known as tors dominate a broad stretch of alpine tundra. A free-use shelter is located at the halfway mark. Angel Rocks Trail is a 3.5-mile loop that leads to Angel Rocks, large granite outcroppings. The state recreation area's longest route is the Chena Dome Trail, a 30-mile loop that follows the ridges around the Angel Creek drainage area. The trail is a popular three-day hike for backpackers who can overnight at a pair of free-use shelters.