5 Reasons to Visit Baranof Warm Springs – Sitka, Alaska

In a region dotted with beautiful hot springs, Baranof Warm Springs stands out as one of the most accessible. It’s just 10 minutes from downtown Sitka, features a gorgeous view of the bay, and is free to visit. In addition to being convenient and free, the warmth of these springs makes them particularly unusual.

Photo by humacg on Pixabay

There are many different kinds of hot springs in the world today—some of which can be quite dangerous. However, most warm springs aren’t nearly as comfortable as this one! These five reasons will help you understand why you should visit Baranof Warm Springs during your next trip to Sitka.

The Springs Are One of the Few Warm Places in Sitka

Sitka is actually a temperate rainforest, so it seems a bit odd that it has heated springs. However, this is actually a result of geology and topography. These warm springs actually sit above a system of volcanoes that’s about 2 million years old.

The volcanoes are responsible for creating a giant aquifer that’s found all over southeastern Alaska. Because of this, the springs in this area stay at a very consistent temperature of about 46 Celsius (114 Fahrenheit) throughout the year.

The Springs Are Free to Visit

The main reason why the springs are free to visit is because they’re on public land. That makes them different from many other hot springs in Alaska, which require permits and reservations. All you need to do is park your car and walk over to the coast.

There are big gravel paths running all the way to the spring, and a small wooden boardwalk leading to its edge. Because the spring is free, it can get quite busy. It’s a great place to spend the afternoon with friends or your family, but you might find it difficult to reserve it for a private moment.

There’s a Beautiful View of the Harbour

If you’re spending a few minutes at the springs, you might feel that you don’t want to linger. After all, it is a place for relaxation and contemplation. However, if you want to make a longer visit, there are plenty of other things to do nearby.

You can walk out to the harbour, where you can watch boats coming and going. You can explore the Sitka National Historical Park, which features the remains of a Tlingit village. Or you can visit the Russian Bishop’s House. The Bishop’s House might sound like a religious site, but it’s actually a historic home. It was built in the early 1900s by a Russian Archbishop who was trying to modernize the Tlingit culture. The house is well-maintained and has a fascinating story.

The Environment Is Well Protected

The most important thing you can remember about Baranof Warm Springs is that it’s on public land. That means it’s protected from development, and it can’t be privately owned. Therefore, the springs are safe. There are no plans to build a fountain or change them in any way.

The only thing that needs to be protected when visiting the springs is the ferns that are growing around them. To protect these unique plants, you shouldn’t walk on the fronds or trample them underfoot. If you want to be a good visitor, you should also stay out of the water. The edges of the springs are coated in silt, which can be easily disturbed. If you walk in the water, you’ll be damaging these aquatic ecosystems.

You Can See Tides and Otters at the Same Time

The best way to experience the tides at Baranof Warm Springs is to visit at low tide. At this time, you can walk out towards the mouth of the harbour, where there are plenty of fish and shellfish living. You can see crabs and starfish, too. At the same time, you can see otters playing in the water. They’re intelligent, social creatures, and you can often see them playing together or grooming one another.

Visiting between tides is a great way to experience the springs. You can relax on the wooden walkway, and you’ll be able to see otters, fish, and birds while they’re active.

Bonus: A visit to these springs is a cultural experience as well

When you visit the springs, you’ll notice a few things. For one thing, you’ll see the Tlingit people coming here to relax. They’ve been coming to these springs for thousands of years, and they’re likely to continue for thousands more. You’ll also notice that everyone is respectful of the site.

The springs are very special to the Tlingit people, and you’ll see them treating them as such. You might even want to do a bit of reading before your visit. You can read about the history of the springs, their significance to the Tlingit people, and general information about hot springs in general.

The Pools at the Hot Springs

The actual Baranof Warm Springs are the primary attraction in the small, outlying village of Baranof Warm Springs, which sees a lot of foot traffic during the warm summer months. Taking a dip in one of the many natural pools that are located in the vicinity of a roaring waterfall is sure to leave you feeling enchanted.

Soaking in the Baranof Warm Springs, AK
Soaking in the Baranof Warm Springs, AK. Photo by: Joseph

The temperatures of the springs range anywhere from mild to 124 degrees Fahrenheit, rendering some of the springs unusable for soaking since they are too hot. The springs include nine pools, but only two of them have been developed. The pools lie at the conclusion of a short hike of about a quarter of a mile and are set against the backdrop of the rushing waters of the Baranof River.

After taking a long bath, you can rapidly refresh yourself in the little, extremely cold plunge pool that is located close to the water’s edge.

Warm Springs Bay in Baranof Warm Springs, AK
Warm Springs Bay in Baranof Warm Springs, AK. Photo by: Zug Zwang

In addition, the summer residents have constructed a public bathhouse for the convenience of visitors. The bathhouse may be found on the water’s edge, and it is available to those who either value their privacy more than the quarter-mile stroll to the natural springs or do not choose to make the journey. The guests of these three private rooms can take in the breathtaking views of the bay while relaxing in the comfort of their own own natural spring water tub.


The Baranof Wilderness Lodge is the only place nearby where visitors can stay the night if they are interested in staying at the Baranof Warm Springs. The property offers guests the option of staying in a cabin or lodge, during which time they are free to explore the surrounding area, relax in one of the on-site hot springs, and dine at Bajr’s Kitchen. The kitchen serves delicious meals made at home, along with wine, dessert, and views of Warm Springs Bay.

Cabins that slide down the hill in Warm Springs Bay, AK. Photo by: Zug Zwang
Cabins that slide down the hill in Warm Springs Bay, AK. Photo by: Zug Zwang

There are rustic campsites scattered all along the Baranof Cross-Island Trail, which traverses Baranof Island and has a total length of 16 miles. This trail is popular with backpackers.

Near the bay, guests at the Baranof Wilderness Lodge have a good chance of spotting wildlife such as bears, eagles, and seals on a daily basis. It is not difficult to spot humpback whales in Chatham Strait, and the lodge provides float trip experiences with a private guide for those interested. Take part in both saltwater and freshwater fishing, as well as world-class angling, or go on a kayaking excursion with your loved ones.

How to get there

The Baranof Warm Springs can be found on the east side of Baranof Island, approximately 20 miles to the east of Sitka, Alaska. Baranof is an excellent stop in Alaska to make if you’re going to be touring Chatham Strait by boat and want to take in some of the natural beauty of the state.

There is a public pier in Warm Springs Bay, and there are lots of spots to anchor. It is not difficult to locate the hot springs because they are the primary draw for visitors to the community. When you reach the end of the boardwalk, either take the rocky path or ask a local for assistance.

Check the airport in Sitka to see if there are any regularly scheduled flights to the pools if you intend to travel there by floatplane. Depending on the conditions of the air, flights from Sitka to Baranof Warm Springs take anywhere from thirty to sixty minutes to complete.

Note that the Baranof Warm Springs hamlet does not have any roads, and the only boardwalk that connects the various parts of the community does not permit the use of all-terrain vehicles.

Why Visit Baranof Warm Springs

These springs are unique because they’re warm. They’re a great place to relax, and you can enjoy the beautiful view of the water. These springs are also a cultural experience. You can see the Tlingit culture and learn about their history at the same time.

These springs are a relaxing place to go and are a great way to learn more about Sitka. You can spend as much or as little time as you want here, and these springs are free to visit. You can make a day out of visiting them or just spend an hour relaxing there. If you want to experience what Sitka has to offer, you should visit these springs.

Baranof Warm Springs is an amazing place to visit. It’s one of the few warm places in Sitka, it’s free to visit, and it has a beautiful view of the harbour. When you visit the springs, you can see tides and otters at the same time. You can also experience the Tlingit culture, and you can learn more about hot springs in general. You should definitely visit Baranof Warm Springs during your next trip to Sitka.

Dos and Don’ts for Exploring Baranof Warm Springs

If you’re planning a trip to Sitka, Alaska, you don’t want to miss the chance to explore Baranof Warm Springs. This area is full of natural beauty and unique wildlife, but it’s important to be aware of some dos and don’ts to ensure a safe and respectful visit. Here are some tips to keep in mind when exploring Baranof Warm Springs.


  • Obtain the necessary permits for activities such as white water rafting or visiting the hatchery bays.
  • Respect the seasonal community and follow any posted rules or regulations.
  • Take the 2-mile hike to Hidden Falls and appreciate the movement and volume of water at the beautiful waterfall.
  • Visit the Alaska Whale Foundation or Alaska Cedar Press to learn more about the local environment and wildlife.
  • Explore the Tongass National Forest and its diverse old-growth forest.
  • Take precautions when visiting the area, such as carrying bear spray and knowing how to react in the presence of brown or grizzly bears.
  • Enjoy the unique opportunity to observe cutthroat trout in their natural habitat.


  • Engage in any activities that require a hatchery permit without obtaining one first.
  • Disturb the monitoring stations or any ongoing research conducted by the Forest Service or nonprofit hatchery.
  • Leave any trash or litter behind, as the area is home to a small, primarily seasonally-occupied community and intermittent visitors.
  • Ignore any safety guidelines, such as those provided by the Coast Guard for float plane rides.
  • Trespass on private property or venture too far from designated paths or trails, especially along the east shore of Baranof Lake.

Weather Forecast for Baranof Warm Springs in the next 5 days

[simple-weather latitude=”57.0522″ longitude=”134.4959″ days=”5″ night=”yes” units=”imperial” text_align=”right” display=”block” style=”large-icons”]

Check the weather constantly for the next few days to make sure it is in favor of your trip and that you can prepare properly.

Baranof Warm Springs Map

Local Information

Address: Sitka Baranof Warm Springs, Alaska 99835
Season: Summer | Not accessible in winter months
GPS: 57°05′22″N 134°49′59″W
Baranof Wilderness Lodge: 44 Warm Springs Bay, Sitka, AK 99835 | 530-582-8132
Website: alaska.org

More Hot Springs in Alaska



Anne loves to explore the world and share her experiences through her blog. She loves to travel to places that are off the beaten path and find unique experiences to share with her readers. She also loves to share tips on how to make the most of a trip, from budgeting to activities. She hopes that her blog will inspire others to explore the world and enjoy the beauty of nature.