It is as if we didn’t feel cool enough outside there in Anchorage. But we were told that the best place to view the northern light is in Fairbanks. So, after few days stayed in Anchorage, my sister and I flew there and spent a night just for that purpose. As there was only two of us, we chose to stay in a place where we could see the northern light without a need to travel too far and Chena Hot Spring Resort is one of the places for it.
Chena Hot Spring Resort
We self-drove to Chena Hot Spring Resort all the way from the Fairbank Airport. The distance wasn’t far, at only about 100 km away and we should be able to reach Chena Hot Spring Resort in less than two hours. But giving in that was during winter, we drove much slower. Plus, our GPS was not cooperating enough, losing its reception at some point, resulting we got lost. Fortunately, we realized it and we made a turn back, following our instinct with bits of help from the offline map, finally, we reached. Although it was a little bit longer than we expected it, however, considering we are map-blind, we deserved a pat on our head.
We were there in late January; I suppose it isn’t peak season because I didn’t see many people in the resort. Or, probably people were already resting comfortably under their warm blanket when we were still finding our way to get there. We checked in, dropped our belongings and we went out to see what we could do there. The day was still early and without thinking much, we asked for any activities that we can join for the day besides the Aurora snow coach tour that night.
We looked through the list of the activities on the leaflet given by the receptionist at the activity center at Chena Hot Spring Resort – there are winter and summer activities and also activities that available all year round. As we wanted to be more relax that day and spend some times to rest so we could stay up until late night for the Aurora tour, so, our choice fell on Aurora Ice Museum Tours, which priced at US$15 per adult at that time. There are multiple tours scheduled every two hours in a day – starts from 11 am and the last tour is at 7 pm.
Aurora Ice Museum
When we parked our car, from afar, we saw a stand-alone building with a shape like an igloo house. And later on, we found out that was the Aurora Ice Museum. We joined the 3 pm tour and all guests who signed up were told to gather at the activity center waiting hall 15 minutes before the schedule. A guide was already ready there and after checking on the attendance, the tour started.
He showed us the way to the Aurora Ice Museum, not too far, it was less than five minutes walking distance from the activity center. While I was walking to there, I looked at my surrounding that was all covered by the snow, and I wish there was a warm cup of tea with me right now. Despite the cold, the view was still beautiful. Everywhere is white. Quiet and calm. My sister walked ahead of me while I snapped some photos using the camera on my phone. And later I was regretting not bringing my other better camera.
We were all there in front of the big wooden door of the building, the guide unlocked it and one by one, we went in. From our first step in there, we could already see a various shape of sculptures – from the sculptures standing on the ground up to the one hanging on the ceiling, everything was made from ice. They put up some LED lighting to illuminate without warming the ice sculptures. The place was lit up with colorful lighting.
The Aurora Ice Museum gallery features amazing ice sculptures created by 16-time world champion ice carver Steve Brice, certified N.I.C.A (National Ice Carving Association) and his wife, Heather a 7-time world champion. As usual, I couldn’t comment further when seeing art pieces like these. I could only feel amazed the moment I stepped in until the moment I stepped out from the museum, especially when I looked closer on the detail, my jaw dropped.
The floor was carpeted so that we wouldn’t slip. The temperature inside the museum was around -3º C but somehow it was still bearable. I think it was because our body temperature had adjusted with our surrounding after sometimes. The room temperature is maintained at that degree year-round, so no matter in what season we come here, it will be as cold as this.
The guide gave us some briefing before he showed us around and after that, we were free to roam the place on our own. Inside the museum, there is Aurora Ice Bar where we could also enjoy a glass of Appletini, a cocktail containing vodka and one or more of apple juice, apple cider, apple liqueur, or apple brandy, at an additional cost of US$15 in an ice carved martini glass. Sit comfortably on the bar stool made of ice, covered with caribou fur on it to isolate the cold. Sounds good, but I skipped it because I am allergic to alcohol. Do remember to purchase this beverage in advance together when signing up for this tour.
The Sculpting Corner
At the sculpting corner, we also could see the ice sculpting process. Seeing the ice sculptures, it reminds me of the initial name ice sculpture decoration usually found in a wedding reception. It is kind of similar thing but just that the sculptures found here in the museum are much more advance. If we are interested in learning more about ice sculpting, we can sign up for the 2-hour ice sculpting class, too. It will be taught by one of the World Ice Carving Champions.
Within the museum, they have created a two-story observation tower with a circular staircase, life-size jousters on horseback, a polar bear bedroom, a Christmas tree bedroom, a kid’s 2 story fort bedroom and a Northern Lights room with an ice outhouse made exclusively with Alaska Diamond or Alaska Marble ice. There is also a room with an ice musical instrument which actually really makes a beautiful sound like in a real musical instrument.
At this point was where I regretted most for not bringing my camera because the camera on my phone wasn’t good enough to capture in such low-light condition. Nevertheless, enjoy the photos! Hope it helps to give you a better picture of what to expect from your visit to the Aurora Ice Museum. As I said on about me and Peek Holidays, I don’t want to be a spoiler – Just peek a little from my story, then go and experience yourself. ;)
Aurora Ice Museum @ Chena Hot Spring Resort
56.5 Chena Hot Springs Rd
Fairbanks, AK 99712, USA