Manley Hot Springs

Manley Hot Springs, Elliot Highway,

October 2, 2010

My friend Lori and I decided we needed one last road trip before winter sets in.  I also wanted to try out my “new to me” Toyota 4 Runner.  It ended up getting 23 MPG for this trip which is the best I’ve gotten so far.  We went up near Manley Hot Springs to visit our friends Trapper, Sarah, and Ken and their babies.  You should be able to click on any of these pictures to see a bigger one.

Elliot HWY

Connects: Fox to Manley Hot Springs, AK
Route#: Alaska Route 2
Length: 151 miles
Road Surface: 50% Paved, 50% Gravel
Season: Open all year

The Elliott Highway leads northwest from Fox (11 miles north of Fairbanks) to Manley Hot Springs, a small settlement with a natural hot springs near the Tanana River. The Elliott Highway provides access to the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay. The highway was named for Malcolm Elliott, president of the Alaska Road Commission from 1927 to 1932.

The first 73.1 miles of the Elliott Highway are paved to the Dalton Highway junction; the remaining 78.9 miles to Manley are mostly gravel, with a couple of sections of improved and/or chip-sealed road. From Fox to the Dalton Highway junction, the Elliott Highway is a series of long upgrades and downgrades, as the road winds through the White Mountains. From the Dalton Highway junction to Manley, the road is narrow and winding, following the ridges and hills and providing a “top of the world” view of hundreds of square miles in all directions.

Miles from Fox (F) shown.
F 0 FOX (pop. 385) at junction with Steese Highway. Fox General Store has 24-hour gas, diesel, groceries, pay phone. Also access to the Turtle Club restaurant, known for its prime rib.
F 1.3 El Dorado Gold Mine; gold panning and tours of commercial gold mine
F 5.5 Hilltop Truckstop: restaurant (famous for its homemade pies), groceries, 24-hour gas and diesel.
F 10.6 Access to Olnes Pond; fishing, informal camping.
F 49.5 Arctic Circle Trading Post; coffee, souvenirs.
F 73.1 Junction with the Dalton Highway.
F 152 MANLEY HOT SPRINGS (pop. 77); gas, food, bar, lodging and camping at historic Manley Roadhouse (1903). Hot springs are located in a private greenhouse; donations welcome.
Excerpts from The Milepost.

For you Ice Road Trucker fans, here is the weigh station that gives Hugh so many problems.

The Elliot Highway to the north, Steese Highway to the east.

We stopped at Hilltop Truckstop for some breakfast.

Carlile and Lyndon truck drivers visiting in the parking lot.

The truckers tables.


Big State Logistics truck filling up the big tanks while I fill up the little one.  Gas is $3.63.

Dalton Highway 46 miles, Manley 125 more miles.

There were lots of these.

And these.

And these.

Entering Livengood-Tolovana Mining District

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline shown here in one of the places it goes underground.

One of the pump stations that pumps the oil in the pipeline down to the ending terminal and port in Valdez.

The Wildwood General Store, closed for the winter.

95 miles north of Fairbanks.

Owned and operated by Mr & Mrs Carson. This old Trading Post is powered by a small generator. There are only a few light bulbs inside and two refrigerators for cold drinks. In a normal day the building uses about 6 gallons of fuel.

No trespassing, and he really means it!

Heeeheee “Private Target Range.  Hello Target.”

Old cabin on a bluff.  This is the only place viewable from the side road to Livengood.

A water truck filling up from the creek.

Here you go Pam!

Wonder where this little road goes.  We were already running late due to stopping so much to take pictures or I would have driven down there to see.

We started to run into a bit of snow on the road but it was only a little bit and not a problem.

Moose crossing the road.

Fire burned this area last year.

There was smoke coming out of the ground.  This is how a lot of our wild land fires start.  The fire gets into the root system of the trees or buries in the tundra to start up again the following year.

Ugh, flat o rama!

Changing the tire wouldn’t have been a problem, but apparently the 4 Runner has been hit in the rear before and so the hole in the bumper didn’t line up with the thing the rod needed to line up with to drop the spare.  I was also missing the handle part of the crank!  Luckily a good samaritan stopped and help and even had a crank handle that fit my rod.  Between the two of us and a lot of poking and prodding, we got it lowered.

I prefer a floor jack to the one that came with the 4 Runner so had one in the back.  But it wouldn’t work in this location and wouldn’t fit where I needed it to so ended up using the other one.

Trapper “It was only flat on one side.”

Spare tire on.  It’s a good thing to know.

We ran into fog and a bit of ice on the road due to the fog.

Ptarmagin Pass.

Hoar frost.

Minto Flats.

Hoar frost covering the trees of this mountain side.  It was beautiful.

Lori got cold.

This Mustang probably was going too fast and didn’t make the curve.  I don’t know if the person in it survived.  I don’t know how they could have.  The roof was squished pretty flat.

Finally we get there.  Lori brought little pumpkins for the babies.  It was so cute because they were looking at them like what the heck do we do with these.

Awww baby butts are just so cute.

I can’t tell Wyatt and Oak apart.

Lisa, such a pretty girl.

This baby was fast, climbed up on this chair lickity split.

Then he looked to see if anyone was going to do anything about it.  It was too funny.

They had fun playing on the slide.

While there Trapper showed me how to patch my tire and did it for me.  He aired it up too so we had a spare for the way back.  Thanks Trapper!

The last of the carrots.  They had to wait for the ground to thaw out again to pull them.  They had been frozen in.

Trapper’s mansion cabin.

Trapper, Sarah, Ken, Wyat, Oak, Lisa, protection force pups!

We left about 7:30 and had a beautiful sunset for the first part of our trip back to town.

Thanks for the visit guys.  I really enjoyed it.

9 thoughts on “Manley Hot Springs

  1. Mak says:

    A beautiful country and a nice story. I am planning a trip to Manley Hot Springs when I visit Fairbanks in September. What do you think the road condition will be at that time? We do not have experience in driving on snow and ice!


  2. Joe says:

    Hi G,

    Love your state. Looks a little like New Hampshires north country, where I live. Some day I have to visit!

    Joe (Keyz56)


  3. Edie says:

    That is such beautiful country, and what a wonderful roadtrip. Other than the flat tire, looks like you had a great time. Really enjoy your pictures, no matter what the view. Thanks for sharing your life with us in the lower US.


  4. Tony Roof says:

    Awesome story… Know the road all to well…looked like fun, glad you girls had fun…


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