Kenai Peninsula Alaska: The Ultimate Road Trip Guide

Kenai Peninsula Alaska

KENAI PENINSULA ALASKA – THE ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP GUIDE

An overlanders guide to road tripping through the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska

Hiking Lost Lake along a river Alaska
Exploring Lost Lake in the Kenai Peninsula

 

Welcome to Alaska’s playground, the Kenai Peninsula! The Kenai Peninsula has something for everyone. Take a hike into the Kenai Peninsula’s stunning backcountry, witness magnificent glaciers, relax by the beach in charming coastal towns, indulge in fresh-caught seafood and oysters, kayak through the Kenai fjords, observe marine and land wildlife in their natural habitat, and much more!

 

We have created a 14 day guide to help you discover the very best of the Kenai Peninsula. This guide can easily be tailored to your  availability, since all the activities are located within the Kenai Peninsula and in a reasonable distance from one another.

 

Note that in the index, each day will be accompanied by the closest town to the activities suggested for that particular day. This way, for example, if you see “Day 3 – Seward” you know that the activity will happen in Seward or its surroundings.

 

Want to discover more of Alaska? Check out our comprehensive guide for driving the Dalton Highway.

 


 

TABLE OF CONTENTS


ROAD TRIP GUIDE OVERVIEW

Region of Alaska: Southcentral – Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska

Starting point: Anchorage, AK

Ending point: Anchorage, AK

Highlights: Scenic drives, coastal terrain, fjords, glaciers, marine and land wildlife, National Park, hiking, backpacking, photography, fishing, sea kayaking

Time allotted for road trip: 14 days

Approximate miles/km to drive: 600 miles/965 km

Highways to drive: Seward Highway- Anchorage to Seward (AK-1 and AK-9)

Sterling Highway (AK-1) Tern Lake junction to the end of the Homer Spit.

Road conditions: Seward Highway- Paved, 2-lane highway in good condition, suitable for any vehicle

Sterling Highway – Paved, mostly 2-lane highway in good condition, suitable for any vehicle.

Best time to travel: May – September

Sites of interest: Whittier, Seward, Homer, Cooper Landing, Chugach National Forest, Lost Lake, Caines Head State Recreation Area, Kenai Fjords National Park, Kachemak Bay State Park, Ninilchik, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Exit Glacier, Harding Icefield, Turnagain Arm, Sterling Highway, Seward Highway.

Adventure rating: 3 out of 5

What we enjoyed most: The diversity of activities offered! We enjoyed the foodie and brewery scene of Homer, the beaches of Caines Head, hiking to an Icefield in Kenai Fjords National Park- to name a few!

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INTRODUCTION

A road trip through the stunning Kenai Peninsula of Alaska is the perfect way to experience the very best Alaska has to offer.  For first time visitors, if we had to recommend one area of Alaska to focus on, the Kenai Peninsula would be it! The Kenai Peninsula, often referred to as Alaska’s playground, encompasses everything that the average person thinks of when they think of Alaska. Rugged coastline, marine and land wildlife in their natural habitat, glaciers, snow-capped mountains, and fjords are only a few of the highlights that you can expect while visiting the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska.

This Kenai Peninsula road trip guide features an array of activities with the intent to maximize time spent exploring the Kenai region, rather than simply driving through. One of the great aspects of the Kenai Peninsula is its accessibility, which is not a commonality in Alaska as a whole. Whether you prefer cultural activities, hiking and backpacking, kayaking, enjoying the brewery and foodie scene, landscape and wildlife photography, or simply relaxing in a beautiful setting, this guide has something for everyone and it can be tailored to any taste. We hope that you enjoy the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska as much as we did!

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DAY 1 – ANCHORAGE: A STUNNING DRIVE ALONG THE TURNAGAIN ARM

Anchorage is a good starting point for exploring the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. Whether you are flying into Alaska and renting a car, or you are driving your personal vehicle, Anchorage serves as the perfect hub. Stock up on all of your road trip/camping essentials and get ready to head south. If you are interested in learning about the indigenous cultures of Alaska, be sure to check out the Alaska Native Heritage Center before leaving Anchorage.

Turnagain Arm Anchorage Alaska spectacular sunset by the sea and the hills
Be sure to stop and take in the views along the Turnagain Arm as you drive towards the Kenai Peninsula

Set out for the Kenai Peninsula by driving the stunning Seward Highway. Be sure to allow plenty of time to enjoy one of the most spectacular sections of the highway, the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet. There are several spots along this stretch of highway to pull over and take in the incredible views.  If you are lucky or plan your trip accordingly, you can experience the Turnagain Arm bore tide, one of the biggest bore tides in the world! The best places to view the bore tide along the Turnagain Arm are Beluga Point and Bird Point. Plan to watch the sunset at one of the many turnouts along the Turnagain Arm and be rewarded with perfect lighting for photos!

Turnagain Arm Anchorage Alaska spectacular sunset by the sea
Watching the sunset along the Turnagain Arm is a MUST

Head to the small town of Girdwood for the night. We camped at Crow Creek Mine, but if camping is not your thing, there are options for cabin rentals, bed and breakfasts, and one hostel.

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DAY  2 – WHITTIER: AN OMINOUS TUNNEL LEADING TO A WATERLOGGED TOWN

Start your day off with a drive through Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, aka, Whittier Tunnel. This 2.5 mile tunnel is a dark and narrow passageway that connects you to the town of Whittier. Be advised that there is a toll fee for access through the tunnel and access is limited to once per hour. The cost of the toll is $13 for a standard size vehicle and $22 for larger vehicles. Although, not technically part of the Kenai Peninsula, it makes sense to include Whittier in this Alaska road trip guide.

Hiking to Portage Pass

After exiting the tunnel and before arriving to the town of Whittier, stop for an incredible hike along the Portage Pass Trail. Look for the sign directing you toward the trailhead immediately after exiting the tunnel. The hike is a short but steep 3 mile out-and-back trail that leads you to Portage Pass. From the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Portage Glacier. Continue to Portage Lake if you have the energy and time.

Portage Pass hike in Alaska epic landscape
It was a dreary, wet hike to the top of Portage Pass and our views were obscured by the fog, but the moody landscape made for an ethereal experience

 

Welcome to Whittier, Alaska: an entire town living under one roof

Whittier Alaska town sign
Whittier, Alaska

Once you have completed the hike to Portage Pass continue to the town of Whittier. Our first impression of this unusual looking town was that it resembled something out of the communist era! Visit the Buckner Building, which at one time housed the entire city of Whittier and was used as a secret military base. The building has since been abandoned, but remains a peculiar site amid a picturesque landscape. Today, most of the town lives in a 14 story building known as Begich Towers– another unexpected building that stands out amid the coastal landscape.

Labeled as one of the wettest places in Alaska, chances are that it might be raining during your visit to Whittier. After exploring, enjoy a warm beverage at one of the cafes in town. Tailor your time in Whittier based on your budget and timeline. If time and budget allow, you may want to look into Whittier based day tours and excursions.

A postcard image of Whittier

Head out of town via the Whittier Tunnel, but keep in mind that the summer hours of operation from Whittier are 6am to 11pm. Continue your drive along Seward Highway until you reach Primrose Campground, located in Chugach National Forest. Primrose Campground will serve as your base for exploring Chugach National Forest. Check out the various accommodations along Seward Highway (there are several close to Kenai Lake) if you prefer not to camp.

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DAY 3 – SEWARD: HIKING TO LOST LAKE: A DOSE OF STUNNING LANDSCAPES

As we were doing research for hiking trails in Alaska, specifically the Kenai Peninsula, the hike to Lost Lake via the Primrose Trail consistently came up as a favorite. The hike is approximately 7.5 miles one way, so unless you are an incredibly speedy hiker, it doesn’t make sense to do the whole hike in one day. This hike makes for an amazing backpacking trip! We camped 2 nights at Lost Lake to allow time to explore the area. The highlight of trail are the last 2 or so miles, when you arrive at high meadows surrounded by alpine lakes and the Chugach Mountains. Camping along Lost Lake is plentiful and the views unbeatable. The Primrose Trail Head is located at the Primrose campground, which makes it convenient to camp here the night before.

 

Arriving in Seward, Alaska: the gateway to the Kenai Fjords

Seward downtown in Alaska
Downtown Seward is filled with tour agencies

If backpacking is not your thing, head to the town of Seward, which will serve as your base for the next couple of days. Be sure to stop and take in the views of the stunning Kenai Lake as you continue your route down the Seward Highway. Seward is referred to as the gateway to exploring Kenai Fjords National Park and offers several options for discovering this area. Fishing charters, sea kayaking trips, and cruises through the fjords are popular day tours and excursions offered in Seward.

 

Note: Seward is one of the most visited towns in Alaska (for a good reason) and the prices reflect that. We kept our costs down by opting to explore the area by foot, via hiking and backpacking. Our only diverge from camping was in Seward when we decided to pay for a motel after our first backpacking trip to Lost Lake (we desperately wanted a bed and showers!). We ended up spending almost $200 for a shabby roadside motel. This was the only hotel that we stayed in during our road trip through Alaska – lesson learned!

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DAY 4 – SEWARD: CHOOSING YOUR SEWARD-BASED ADVENTURE

If you backpacked to Lost Lake the day before, start the long trek back to the trailhead and continue your route down the Seward Highway until you reach Seward. Explore the town and check out the excursions offered as you make a plan for the following days. In need of a shower after your backpacking trip? No worries, there is a clean, public shower located in the center of town.

If you are up for it, we highly recommend another backpacking trip along the Caines Head Trail to North Beach. This was another highly regarded trail that we came across while researching hikes in the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska. I know what you are thinking… another backpacking trip? Well, if a backpacking trip sounds like too much, you can reach this area via a water taxi from Tonsina Point, or by kayak. Inquire about kayaking trips and water taxi services in Seward. If you plan to hike be sure and pick up a free tides table at the local hardware store, or download an app on your phone (we used the tide charts app and it worked fabulously), you will need this!

Enjoy a relaxing evening in Lowell Point

Stay the night at Miller’s Landing campground in Lowell Point, a short 10 minute drive from downtown Seward. Miller’s Landing is a beautiful spot to do nothing but enjoy the surroundings. There are campsites, small cabin rentals and space for RVs along the beach. Although a bit more pricey than the average campground, the location and amenities (showers, laundry, WiFi) are something to be enjoyed. Spend the evening on the porch sipping tea while you watch the fishing boats dock with the largest fish you will ever see in your life! This is also a great spot for marine wildlife viewing in the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska.

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DAY 5 – SEWARD: ADHERING TO THE TIDES

If you decide to backpack Caines Head Trail to North Beach, it is imperative that you plan your trip around the tides. You MUST hike the stretch of beach between Tonsina Point and North Beach at low tide (apx. 3 mile stretch of beach).

Coastal hike in Caines Head Alaska
Adhere to the tides and don’t get stuck like we did!

Low tide means a tide of +3 or less. The key is to leave the trailhead at Lowell Point 2 hours before low tide. We stress the importance of timing the hike with the tide because of our own carelessness when we hiked this trail. Not only did we end up getting stuck for 8+ hours waiting for the next low tide, but we also ended up in more than one dangerous situation of having to climb over slippery, moss ridden boulders. There was a point where I honestly thought, “this is it, I must surrender to the sea.” Luckily, we made it out safely, but I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone! Please don’t let our negligence deter you from wanting to do this incredible hike and plan accordingly!

Getting there is half the fun: your adventure to North Beach

The hike from Lowell Point to North Beach is approximately 4.5 miles. Park at the upper lot that is designated for overnight parking and pay the daily parking fee ($5). With the exception of the beginning and end, the hike follows along the beach through rocky, coastal terrain.

North Beach is a great place to feel isolated from other tourists whilst being surrounded by incredible scenery. Marine and land wildlife are frequently spotted along this hike. You may even encounter bears fishing in the nearby streams. It is worth it to stay 2 nights and explore the area, or simply relax at North Beach away from the crowds. Another option is to book one of the 3 public use cabins that are spread out along this hike. Keep in mind that they are all dry cabins and do not have electricity or running water, but they are definitely a luxury when compared to  tent camping. We stayed at one of the public use cabins in a different region of Alaska and can attest to how great they are!

 

The many options for getting around: hiking, water taxis and kayaking

If backpacking doesn’t appeal to you, arrange for a water taxi to drop you off at North Beach (or even South beach- even more isolated than North Beach) and pick you up a day or two later. You can still have the backcountry experience without having to exert much energy.

If you prefer a day hike from Lowell Point, hike the short 2.1 mile stretch to Tonsina Point and spend the day at the beach. Tonsina Point is a beautiful location with a campground and is ideal if you prefer a shorter backpacking trip that doesn’t require planning around the tides. Another option is to simply spend the day at Miller’s Landing, rent a kayak and paddle around Resurrection Bay. There are also kayaking day excursions that will take you to North Beach and include a short hike to the Fort McGilvray. The options are endless in the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska!

 

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DAY 6: A BIRDS-EYE-VIEW OF THE KENAI FJORDS

Today, we will assume that you decided to backpack (or take a water taxi) to North Beach the day prior. Spend the day discovering the area by hiking one of the trails that are accessible from North Beach. We highly recommend hiking the Alpine Trail for a breathtaking, birds-eye-view of the fjords, surrounding mountains and Resurrection Bay. Due to the trailhead only being accessible by hiking to North Beach, it is likely that you will see very few people hiking this trail. The Alpine Trail will take the majority of the day and enough time should be given to explore the surrounding landscape after reaching the top.

 

Discovering Fort McGilvray and South Beach

Fort McGilvray Caines Head Alaska
Remnants of Fort McGilvray

If you prefer a shorter and much easier hike, head to Fort McGilvray and then to South Beach. It is worth the short trip to South Beach for a different perspective, as compared to North Beach. South Beach is even more secluded than North Beach and is another great place to set up camp. If you decide to camp at South Beach, it is almost guaranteed that you will have the place to yourself.  Spend another night at North Beach

(or change to South Beach) and be sure to check the tide table for the hike out the next morning. Plan to leave North Beach 1.5 hours prior to low tide.

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DAY 7 – SEWARD: EXIT GLACIER: A HIGHLIGHT OF THE KENAI REGION

Hike out of Caines Head and drive back through Seward towards Exit Glacier. As you are driving the Seward Highway look for signs directing you to the cutoff for Exit Glacier Road. Exit Glacier Campground is a free campground that is located right outside the access area of Exit Glacier. Exit Glacier and Harding Icefield are two major attractions within the Kenai Fjords National Park and are definitely worth a visit.

 

Your first stop in Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park Exit Glacier Sign
We got our trophy photo!

On your drive into the park, be sure to stop for an obligatory National Park trophy photo at the Kenai Fjords National Park sign. Drive to the Exit Glacier Campground and relax for the rest of the day, or take the short walk (apx. 20 minutes) from the Exit Glacier parking lot to the edge of Exit Glacier. Conserve your energy for tomorrow’s strenuous hike to the Harding Icefield- this hike is a MUST while visiting the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska!

Tired of traditional hiking? Strap on some crampons and hit the ice! For a unique Alaska experience try ice hiking on Exit Glacier! Sign up for one of the ice hiking excursions online or before leaving Seward.

Exit glacier Kenai Peninsula
A spectacular view of Exit Glacier from the Harding Icefields trail

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DAY 8 – SEWARD: AN UPHILL BATTLE TO THE HARDING ICEFIELD

Wake up early and drive to the Exit Glacier parking lot. From the parking lot, walk to the Harding Icefield trailhead and begin this astounding, yet strenuous hike up to the icefield. The Harding Icefield hike is 8.2 mile round trip with an elevation gain of apx. 1,000 feet for every mile hiked. Most people do the trail as a day hike, but backpacking in and camping near the Harding Icefield is something incredible. The weather can change drastically as you increase in elevation, so be prepared! When hiking this trail, the weather quickly changed from a warm and sunny summer day to something resembling a blizzard at the top if the icefield. Luckily, the bad weather didn’t stick around for too long and we were able to get some pretty amazing photos!

A scenic drive to Homer, Alaska

Return to your car and start driving towards the town of Homer. Drive the Seward Highway until you reach the Tern Lake junction, at which point the Sterling Highway begins. The drive to Homer is approximately 3.5 hours and is almost as spectacular as Homer itself. The Sterling Highway runs along the Cook Inlet with views of several volcanoes in the distance; the sunset from here is magical. The view of Mount Augustine in the distance reminded us quite a bit to Mount Fuji. Take your time driving along this beautiful stretch of highway and be sure to stop at Ninilchik: an Alaska Native village in the Kenai Peninsula with strong Russian roots. Ninilchik Russian Church is a popular stop for travelers passing through.

We opted to stop for the night at Anchor Point to avoid having to drive in the dark. We saw several signs along the highway warning us of potential car-moose collisions- what a way to ruin a road trip! Anchor Point offers 5 State Park campgrounds and is a good option for spending the night as you continue your road trip through the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska.

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DAY 9 – HOMER: A PLACE FOR INDULGENCES AND GUILTY PLEASURES

Homer sign alaska
Welcome to the charming fishing village of Homer, Alaska

Upon entering the fishing village of Homer, stop at the visitors center and speak with their incredibly helpful staff. The woman attending us not only gave us a wonderful history lesson about Homer, but provided us with all of the information that we needed for our stay. Homer has a reputation for their foodie and brewery scene, art culture and for being home to an abundance of marine wildlife. Eating fresh-caught seafood, visiting local breweries or their winery, fresh oyster stands, eclectic cafes featuring local coffee roasters, and excellent restaurants of various cuisine types, are all things that you can expect from your visit to Homer. The 3 days we were in Homer were filled less with outdoorsy activities and more with guilty pleasures and indulgences!

Camping and accommodations in Homer are plentiful. We chose to stay at Fishing Hole Campground, a city managed campground along the beach on the Homer Spit. Homer Spit Campground is a privately owned campground located at the end of the Homer Spit; a bit more expensive than the city managed campgrounds, but you will have access to more amenities: Showers, laundry facilities, and WiFi.

Homer oyster stand alaska
Homer oyster stand alaska

 

During all our road trip through Alaska, we lived out of our DIY converted camper SUV. Read how we built it… or watch it!

 

The Homer Spit, a place for locals and tourists alike

The Homer Spit is the heart of Homer, at least for tourists. You will find an abundance of shops, bars and restaurants. This 4.5 mile stretch of land can be accessed by means of a vehicle, bicycle or on foot. Spend the day exploring the spit and indulge a little! If you enjoy local, hole in the wall pubs, be sure to check out Salty Dog Saloon and have a chat and a beer with a local.

 

A side note about Homer-based excursions:

The Homer Spit is the place to inquire about day trips and excursions that are offered in Homer. Bear viewing excursions in Katmai National Park and Lake Clark National Preserve is a very popular day trip option from Homer. This day trip offers the chance to see an abundance of bears in their natural habitat. If your your budget allows, and bear viewing is a priority, go for it! We would have loved to go on a bear viewing excursion during our time in the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska, and played with the idea of splurging on this activity, but in the end we decided against it. Luckily, we had plenty of opportunities to see bears in their natural habitat during our 2 months in Alaska.

Don’t miss Kachemak Bay State Park

Another great option is to take the water taxi over to Kachemak Bay State Park. Kachemak Bay is known as being a mecca for marine wildlife. Spending a couple of days in Kachemak Bay State Park is perfect for those who prefer solitude and to steer clear of touristic areas. There are several hiking trails, campsites and 5 public use cabins that are available for rent (be sure to book ahead of time). There are also options for private cabins and yurts, but these options are more expensive.

For an awesome backcountry experience, arrange to have the water taxi drop you off at your desired location and pick you up at a later date. Unfortunately, we had to miss this experience, but spoke to others who raved about their experience in Kachemak Bay State Park. If you choose to visit the park as a day trip, the Glacier Lake Trail is said to be a spectacular hike that leads you to Grewingk Glacier Lake; a glacial lake where you can see ice calving off glaciers and plummeting into the lake. Kachemak Bay was our most missed experience during our trip through the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska.

An off-the-beaten-path experience in Seldovia

Additionally, you can choose to take a water taxi from Homer to Seldovia. Seldovia is a small village that is not connected to the road system; therefore, the perfect place for an off-the-beaten-path experience, or to simply escape the tourist scene of Homer.

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After you make a plan for your next couple of days in Homer, go check out the local brewery, Homer Brewing Company. The best part about this brewery is the oyster truck right outside! Have a beer and fresh-caught oysters while you enjoy the local flair.

Local flair in Homer, Alaska
Local flair in Homer, Alaska

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DAYS 10 & 11 – HOMER: CHOOSE YOUR HOMER ADVENTURE

Homer sourdough cafe pedro alaska
Make time for breakfast at Fresh Sourdough Express

The next two full days will be spent in Homer. Go for a day excursion, or head out to Kachemak Bay State Park and spend the night at one of the public use cabins or campgrounds. If you decide to stay and explore the town of Homer, head to Fresh Sourdough Express for a delicious breakfast. Their cuisine focuses on locally grown, organic ingredients and is sure to be one of the best places in town! We came here on three separate occasions during our time in Homer and left very satisfied each time.

Make time for a scenic drive

Take the Skyline Drive and look for the scenic pull out that offers panoramic views of Homer, Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains. Another scenic drive is the East End Road, which ends at a beach at the Russian village, Kachemak Selo . The East End Road winds through beautiful scenery with views of Kachemak Bay glaciers and mountains. Wildlife is known to frequent this road so have your camera ready!

Revel in the local fare

If your visit to Homer falls on a Wednesday or Saturday, check out Homer’s Farmers Market (Wednesdays 2pm-5; Saturdays 10am-3). If you enjoy art and culture, head to the Pratt Museum– an awarding winning museum that features exhibits related to science, art and Alaskan culture. Take a walk or read a book on Bishop’s Beach. Rent a kayak and paddle around Kachemak Bay. It will be hard to choose how to spend these two days in Homer!

Homer bishops beach alaska
Relax on Bishop’s Beach

Don’t miss out on Homer’s best dining establishments

Take advantage of all of the great restaurants in town, but avoid the restaurants that seem to be geared toward tourists. A local favorite and apparently THE PLACE to eat in Homer is Little Mermaid. Little Mermaid was recommended to us by a local and is said to have the best seafood, prices and ambiance. Unfortunately, we missed out on eating here because it is nearly impossible to get a table without a reservation. Interestingly enough, this restaurant was not listed in any of the restaurant recommendations given to us at the visitors center. We settled for a restaurant that was listed as “the best seafood in town” and we were less than impressed, to say the least.

Give a try to Carmen’s Gelato located on the Homer Spit. Locals flooded this place, which is always a good sign. We relished the gelato and espresso, going back for seconds…and then thirds! What can we say, it was the last day of the season before closing up shop for the winter. We warned you that Homer is a place for guilty pleasures and indulgences!

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DAY 12 – STERLING / COPPER LANDING: CHASING WILDLIFE ON SKILAK LAKE ROAD

Skilak lake road alaska
Skilak Lake Road: We hit the 3,000 mile-mark

Drive out of Homer and back up the Sterling Highway to Soldotna. Your first stop of the day will be the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center. The visitors center offers great advice about things to do in the area, as well as interesting exhibits about Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula.

Continue on the Sterling Highway until you see the turn off for Skilak Lake Road. The Skilak Lake Road is an 18 mile loop road that passes through the wildlife refuge and is known as the best place for wildlife viewing in the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska. We really enjoyed this area and would have loved to spend more time here. Skilak Lake Road offers campgrounds, hiking trails and beautiful scenery. We hiked Bear Mountain Trail and Kenai River Trail hoping to see Grizzly Bears, as recommended to us at the visitors center. We didn’t see bears, but the lovely scenery more than made up for it! Bears are known to frequent this area due to salmon migrating up Hidden Creek. See if you are lucky enough to spot a Grizzly, but don’t get out of you car and walk down to the creek looking for them!

Spend the night at one of the many campgrounds offered along Skilak Lake Road.

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DAY 13 – COPPER LANDING: WHERE SALMON SWIM BEARS FISH

Today, you will continue your quest for wildlife and venture into another wildlife frequented area in the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska. Skilak Lake Road intersects with the Sterling Highway at both ends. Once you have driven the entirety of the Skilak Lake Road, get back on the Sterling Highway and head towards Cooper Landing. Take the access road towards Russian River Campground and enter through the park gates. There is an $11/day fee to access the Russian River area, unless you plan to camp. When you pay the camping fee access to this area is included.

Hiking to Russian River Falls

Russian river falls salmon jumpingalaska
An abundance of salmon swimming upstream at Russian River Falls

Park at the trailhead for Russian River Falls and start the hike toward the falls. This 5 mile (apx) hike is not really a hike at all, but rather a nature walk. This hike is quite popular so the earlier you go the better (and the better chance of spotting a bear). It is very common to see bears on the trail, at the falls, or both. You will certainly see salmon fighting the current as they swim upstream- this is quite a sight! Where there are fish, there are sure to be bears.

Spend the rest of the day exploring the area or relaxing at your campsite. Stay the night at Russian River Campground, or choose one of the accommodations offered in Cooper Landing. Other things to do in the Cooper Landing area include river rafting and fishing in the Kenai River.

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DAY 14 – ANCHORAGE: A FOND FAREWELL TO ALASKA AND THE KENAI PENINSULA

Today is the last day of your 14 day long road trip through the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska! Head back towards Anchorage, but first be sure to stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. We were surprisingly impressed by this place and ended up spending hours just observing the wildlife living at the conservation center. This is a great way to get an up close experience of Alaska’s wildlife in a controlled environment. We were a bit put off at first, associating the conservation center with something similar to a zoo, but this is certainly not the case.

An intimate experience with Alaska’s wildlife

Even if you saw wildlife during your Alaska road trip, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is worth the stop. We found ourselves watching a Grizzly bear bathe in a lake that was no more than 20 feet away from us; bull elk fighting for dominance; herds of bison grazing, and so much more. Each animal has a name and a story of what brought them to the conservation center. The entrance fee is $15 and you can be sure that the money goes to a great cause! We were so entranced watching the Grizzlies that we lost track and were kindly escorted out after closing time (oops)! This place definitely deserves a visit before leaving Alaska!

 

A local Alaska brewery to conclude your road trip through the Kenai Peninsula

Once back in Anchorage, conclude your road trip with a visit to Midnight Sun Brewing Company, while you reflect on all of the amazing things you have seen and done on your road trip through Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Be sure to check out our other road trip itineraries before your next big Alaska road trip!

 

Have you road tripped through the Kenai Peninsula region of Alaska? What were your impressions, favorite activities, etc.? We would love to hear about your experience in the comments section!

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