Roadtrippin’: Skip the hike and fly into Tolovana Hot Springs

If you want to skip the hike and get right to the good stuff, the amazing hot springs, you can always fly into Tolovana.
Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 10:36 AM AKDT
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If you choose to hike your way into Tolovana Hot Springs during the summer months in Alaska you are looking at nearly 11 miles through tough terrain. You will face major elevation drops and elevation gains, you’ll have to cross a muddy, wet bog, and don’t forget the one billion or so mosquitoes you’re bound to encounter. If you want to hit up the hot springs while skipping all that muss and fuss there is another option. You can fly in.

It’s not exactly Luguardia. You won’t find any airport towers. In fact you will find little more than a windsock and a lightly mowed runway, but if you want to get to Tolovana Hot Springs quickly, it’s the best option available.

Tom DeLong is the owner of the hot springs and he’s seen traffic at his little make shift air strip increase a bit over the years. “It is more in the summer, it is usually starting up in April and May and then through the summer we are getting a fair bit. An increased use.” Says DeLong.

Should you manage to make your way via plane, be it as pilot or passenger it is entirely possible that Tom will put you to work. On our expedition the Channel 2 team ended up helping Mr. DeLong fix the long poll like log that the windsock is attached to. He did reward us for the effort though. After a bit of manual labor our host broke out golf clubs and a couple of ratty old golf balls and we all took turns swinging the sticks. Despite a fairly wide landing strip I will be honest, I managed to find the out of bounds on my turn.

Perhaps surprisingly, one thing you won’t see in this area, not near the air strip, not near the hot springs, is moose hunting. “This airstrip is in the Minto management area which means you can’t use an airplane or an air boat to do anything with moose hunting.” Says Mr. DeLong.

Should someone attempt to break that rule the penalties are stiff. “You can not carry people, you can not haul meat, you cannot haul supplies or guns or anything so that is really a very nice feature and the penalty for that is confiscation of your airplane.” Mr. DeLong tells me.

So if you’re looking to make the trip to the hot springs and you don’t want to hassle with that monstrous hike, flying in just might be the ticket for you.

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