Serpentine Hot Springs is not easy to get to—it’s a one-hour bush-plane flight from Nome—but the remote spot offers easy living compared to most wilderness areas in northern Alaska. First, the National Park Service-maintained bunkhouse provides a cozy escape from wind and rain. The first-come, first-serve shelter sleeps about 12 and includes cookware and a three-burner stove (BYO fuel and sleeping bags). Second, there’s the hot springs, which feeds a bathhouse so you can take a soak at the end of a day of hiking.
The surrounding area protects a piece of the ancient migration route used by animals and people to cross the Bering Land Bridge between Asia and North America. “It’s a primordial landscape,” says Fairbanks-based photographer Patrick Endres, who has more than three decades of experience exploring and shooting in Alaska. “It’s dotted with granite tors—volcanic remnants now visible due to erosion. I hiked around hundreds of these things, and their shapes and sizes are all unique,” he says. “In September, the autumn colors were brilliant and I ate my share of sweet blueberries.” Seeing the Northern Lights? That was a lucky bonus.
Bush plane Fox Air ($1,500 round-trip from Nome for up to three people)