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Chena Lakes Recreation Area

Operated by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation, amenities consist of a playground, cross country trails, picnic area, natural area, volleyball court, camping sites, boat launch, swimming, no-alcohol park and restrooms.

Special Use Permits

Special use permits are issued to various groups and individuals who use project lands for particular events and activities. Some examples are the Fairbanks Retriever Club, Santa Claus Half Marathon, Yukon Quest 1,000 mile sled-dog race and Alaska Fire Service Smokejumpers. Please call 907-488-6359 for more information.


A paved bikeway begins at a park and ride lot at the project's entrance on Laurance Road. It continues almost 5 miles down the road along the dam to the visitor kiosk at the outlet works at the dam junction with the Chena River. The Fairbanks North Star Borough has also paved a section of its bike path in Lake Park, which intersects with the bikeway at the Lake Park Road. A fee is charged for use of the borough's bike path during the summer. Mountain biking on more primitive trails is encouraged throughout the project.

Map of Bikeway


Floods often draw in large amounts of wood and other debris being carried down the Chena River to the outlet works of the dam, where it is caught on our "trash racks." This debris must be picked out of the river with a crane and hauled in dump trucks to our debris storage area. When large quantities are available, permits may be offered to the public to harvest the firewood for personal use. Call 907-488-6359 to check on availability.


Many species of birds, mammals and fish inhabit the Chena Project. Whether you are interested in hunting, fishing or just watching the wildlife, this is a great place to do it relatively close to town.


Around the beginning of July and continuing through the month, chinook (king) and chum (dog) salmon can be seen swimming up the Chena River to spawn. An excellent place to see them is the top of the outlet works, where the Alaska Department of Fish and Game establishes a counting station every year. Call the Chena Project Office for a schedule of viewing hours and conditions.

When the salmon begin their summer migration around July 1, contact the Chena Project Office for days and hours when the outlet works--where the dam crosses the Chena River--is open for viewing as well as any pertinent information on water conditions (level and turbidity).

The salmon passing through the Moose Creek Dam have been in fresh water since they entered the mouth of the Yukon River, about 900 river miles west of here. Two species of salmon spawn in the Chena River, chinook (king) and chum (dog) salmon. Almost 10,000 salmon pass this point on the way to their spawning grounds from July 1 through mid-August.

Life of a Chena River Salmon


Chinook (King)
Chum (Dog)


Coloration: Copper to red, sometimes almost black, with black spots on the back, dorsal fin and caudal (tail) fin.

Weight: 20 pounds, widely varying from five to more than 50 pounds

Coloration: Vertical bars of green and purple. Females have a dark horizontal band along the side.

Weight: 6 ½ pound average, ranging from four to 15 pounds

Duration of Spawning Run in Chena


End of June through July

Beginning of July until mid-August

Time in Stream After Hatching


One year after hatching, migration the following spring Migration immediately after hatching

Time in Ocean


Two to six years, occasionally one year, known as "jacks"
Two to four years, occasionally one year

Information on Chena River salmon courtesy of Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Contact Us

Chena Project Office  907-488-2748

Calendar of Events


  • April-May: Migratory waterfowl viewing of geese, cranes, ducks and swans
  • May 15-Sept. 30: Visitor Kiosk Day Use Area open from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Tours of dam for groups available on request. Please call (907) 488-6359 for appointment.
  • Memorial Day-Labor Day: Fairbanks North Star Borough Chena Lake Recreation Area staffed and open. The area is accessible all year, but fees are not charged in the winter, and campgrounds and picnic areas are not maintained.
  • June-August: Fairbanks Retriever Club, Interior Alaska Gun Dog Association and Tanana Valley Kennel Club hunting and tracking trials
  • July: Santa Claus Half Marathon
  • August: Sandhill crane gathering in preparation for fall migration
  • September: Rifle hunting season for moose open upstream of Moose Creek Dam
  • October: Friends of the Chena Project Volunteer Picnic


  • Nov. 1-March 31: Subject to adequate snow cover project lands are open to snowmachining, except for sides and top of dam. Chena Lake Recreation Area multipurpose and cross-country ski trail are also groomed as soon as enough snow is available. Ice fishing is also available on Chena Lake when ice is proper thickness.
  • December: Henry Hahn 200 Sled Dog Race from Pike's Landing in Fairbanks through the project to Two Rivers
  • February:
    • Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile Sled Dog Race passes through project en route from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. A dog drop site will be at the River Park Boat Ramp parking lot. 
    • Yukon Quest 250 Sled Dog Race from Fairbanks to Circle City passes through project
    • Junior Yukon Quest from Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs. A check point will be at the River Park Boat Ramp parking lot
    • Dredging of slough access to Chena River at River Park Boat Ramp in the Chena Lakes Recreation Area
  • March: North Pole Winter Carnival events:
    • Annual Snowmachine Open House and Safety Day at the Chena Project Office
    • Sled dog races at the Chena Lakes Recreation Area
    • Numerous other activities in North Pole