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Kenai Peninsula

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The Kenai Peninsula [5] is within an easy drive south of Anchorage, surrounded by the Cook Inlet to the west and Prince William Sound to the east. It's known as "Alaska's Playground" and is one of the most visited tourist regions in Alaska, especially popular with nature lovers for its beautiful scenery, and with anglers lured by its excellent salmon and halibut fishing.

Many of the communities of the peninsula were severely affected by the 1964 earthquake.


  • Anchor Point -- Westernmost highway point in North America. The mouth of the the famous Anchor River is here.
  • Cooper Landing-- Where the turquoise waters of the Kenai River meet the crystal clear waters of the Russian River, creating the world's most productive salmon fishery. Also the home of Gwin's Lodge (est. 1952), one of the oldest log roadhouses in Alaska.
  • Girdwood -- Home to Alyeska Ski Resort.
  • Homer -- Jewel's hometown, known for its halibut fishing and the Salty Dawg Saloon (est. 1897).
  • Hope -- Tiny (pop. 200 or so) town on the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet.
  • Kenai -- The largest town on the peninsula, 2003 population 7166.
  • Ninilchik -- Home of a lovely Russian Orthodox Church and excellent clamdigging.
  • Nikiski -- Unincorporated small town north of Kenai, oil and fishing resources.
  • Seldovia -- Small town across Kachemak Bay from Homer.
  • Seward -- On Resurrection Bay, home of the Alaska SeaLife Center, and where charter cruises depart for sightseeing tours to see the glaciers and wildlife of the Kenai Fjords National Park.
  • Soldotna -- King Salmon Capitol of the World
  • Sterling

Other Destinations[edit]

Get in[edit]

The Kenai Peninsula can be reached by car by taking the Seward Highway roughly 40 miles south from Anchorage. Sterling Highway branches west towards Cooper Landing, Soldotna, Kenai, Seldovia, Ninilchik, and ultimately Homer. These are the only two major roads on the peninsula.

The road system is generally good and four-wheel drive is not needed in the summer.

ERA Aviation [6] and Grant Air offer flights from Anchorage to Kenai or Homer.

It is also possible to take the ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway [7] to and from Homer, Seldovia, and Seward.

Get around[edit]

Seward Highway - this 127-mile road, linking Anchorage with Seward, passes through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Seward Highway ties Alaska's metropolitan center, Anchorage, with the port of Seward on Resurrection Bay. From Anchorage to Girdwood, the highway borders Turnagain Arm and Chugach State Park. From Girdwood to Seward, it carries visitors through the Chugach National Forest. The diversity of landscape and wildlife found along the route is the hallmark of the highway corridor. The Highway has been recognized for its natural beauty as a designated All-American Road. The Sterling Highway connects to the Seward Highway at Tern Lake and continues down the Peninsula all the way to Homer at its southern tip. Known as "Alaska's Scenic Byway," the 142-mile highway passes through the mountains, lakes, and rivers of Chugach National Forest and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to the flat terrain of Soldotna and Homer.

See[edit][add listing]

The Kenai, Alaska's Playground; here you will discover what Alaskans already know, The Kenai is not behind safety glass, or a deck rail. Your face feels the cold wind on the train and your heart pounds with the strike of a monster fish. Your adrenaline rushes at the sight of a bear, and your skin chills as you step on a glacier.

Nothing about the Kenai Peninsula is formal or stuffy. In fact, no other destination offers such an up close and personal Alaskan experience. With over 15,000 square miles of extraordinary adventure and excitement to choose from, even the rest of the state comes here when they need a reminder of why they moved to Alaska in the first place. That’s why we are known as Alaska’s Playground.

Have you ever imagined what the last Ice Age actually looked like? Well, imagine no more. See it for yourself by flying over the 700-square mile Harding Ice Field. Or driving to Exit Glacier. Or cruising in the Kenai Fjords National Park. It’s like stepping back in time 10,000 years… without all the messy quantum physics stuff.

If you’d rather go back just a few centuries, there’s plenty of human history to explore. Alaska Natives thrived on the Kenai’s rich resources from both land and sea. Captain Cook explored here in the late 18th Century. Russians colonized parts of the eastern coast, bringing a long-lasting influence to the area – including several Russian Orthodox churches, one of which is some 200 years old. Over the last century or so, gold, oil and coal have played significant roles in shaping today’s Peninsula. Gold brought prospectors to Hope and inspired the construction of the Alaska Railroad originating in Seward. “Black gold” (oil) was discovered on a northern Peninsula river. And Homesteaders still gather coal on the beaches of Homer.

While Mother Nature has given many gifts to The Kenai, it has also taken some away. The 1964 Good Friday Earthquake triggered a tsunami (tidal wave) that destroyed the Seward port. It also twisted railroad tracks like taffy and wreaked havoc throughout Southcentral Alaska. As you can see, The Kenai is packed with interesting history. But if you’re like most peninsula adventurers, you’d rather make history by catching a world-record king salmon. Lester Anderson did just that on the Kenai River in 1985 with a 97 lb., 4 oz. keeper. You can see it today at the Soldotna Visitors Center. And you know that monstrous fish has some hefty relatives just waiting for you to catch. So c’mon up! Even if you don’t make history, you’ll make memories to last a lifetime.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Kenai River Festival (Kenai River Fest), Soldotna, [1]. The Kenai River Festival is an annual event that grew out of the Kenai Watershed Forum's desire to provide a free, fun setting for the community to celebrate the river that is centric to the livelihood of the local community. At the festival there are opportunities to learn how to give back to the river by keeping it healthy and productive. Legendary festival highlights include 20 foot long magical Luq'A the salmon, pioneer salmon dinners, Run for the River 5/10K race, free live music riverside and more than 20 free children's activities. The Kenai River Festival is a free 3-day event brought to the community by the generosity of local businesses and organizations. More than 10,000 people attend each year. FREE.  edit
  • Kenai Birding Festival (Kenai Bird Fest), Kenai, [2]. Alaska's Kenai Birding Festival is full of activities designed for birders of all levels, including young and beginning birders. In addition to local birding experts well known birders are invited to share their knowledge and expertise while providing workshops and outings as well as rafting trips, films, art shows and more. This 3-day event showcases the beautiful state parks, fantastic wildlife refuge and pristine beaches that draw thousands of birds to the Kenai Peninsula each year. Varies.  edit
  • Stream Watch (StreamWatch), [3]. Stream Watch is a local volunteer effort that strives to help river users have a great day on the river by sharing helpful information and completing river protection projects. Stream Watch volunteers are trained to provide helpful information on fishing regulations, river protection, and bear awareness while completing river stewardship projects. Volunteer opportunities exist for all ages and interests.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Eshamy Bay Lodge, Eshamy bay, AK 99501, 1 907-440-7978, [4]. Located in beautiful Prince William Sound, Eshamy Bay Lodge is located in the midst of Alaskan wilderness.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Both Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm exhibit extreme tides. The only place in the world with a wider tidal range is the Bay of Fundy. Because of the swift tidal currents and the very soft clay of the tidal flats, it can be extremely dangerous to walk or drive on the tidal flats.

Brown bears and moose are quite common on the peninsula. Both can be aggressive towards humans. Moose are a major hazard on the peninsula's roadways, especially in winter.

Get out[edit]

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