Hot springs have long been known to have therapeutic value thanks to the complex mineral compounds they contain, but relaxation – like real estate – is all about location. These hot springs stand out not because their waters are perfectly heated or perfectly clear, but because the experience of getting to and being around the pools is soothing. The hot water is just a bonus.
The best way to get to Chief Shakes Hot Spring is by canoe, a few miles across the Canadian border along the Stikine River, the fastest flowing navigable river in North America. From the river, you must navigate through a thicketed creek, tie up, and then hike a half mile through Alaskan rainforest – over mud and under the dense cover of Tongass National Forest. The reward is a crude steaming facility with wooden indoor and outdoor hot tubs fed by the springs. Even in the summer, this glacial-ridden area is chilly and the hot waters are welcoming, as is the view of an open field that attracts wildlife – populated by a moose and a few dozen deer when we went. We can guarantee it's the only crowd you'll ever find here.
Credit: Tyghe Trimble