Accessible, Incredible Kenai

Chasing the Alaska Dream
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I'll bet that when asked, some Alaskans and seasoned travelers might scoff at the Kenai, saying it's too crowded, too compact, and just too accessible to be confused with the "real" Alaska. They have a point, but then in Alaska everything is relative.

Yes, the Kenai can be congested during June through August if you stick to the tourist haunts, but there's plenty of room to spread out—9,000 square miles, in fact, making the Kenai comparable in size to Vermont with a mere fraction of the residents. As in our most popular parks in the Lower 48, a short stroll or paddle buys you all of the solitude you could want.

Whatever outdoor activity you're into and whether you're a do-it-yourself kind of traveler or you prefer to let someone else take care of the logistics, GORP has the resources and inspiration you need to live out that dream of an Alaska adventure.

Landlubber's Guide to the Kenai

Hiking
The Kenai has that rarest of Alaskan commodities—trails—in spades, but for length and scenery it's hard to beat the 38-mile Resurrection Pass Trail, a relatively gentle route surrounded by the tundra-clad Kenai Mountains. Cabins maintained by the U.S. Forest Service take the "rough" out of camping.

Read: Hiking the Resurrection Pass Trail

Wildlife Viewing
The Kenai is prime habitat for marine and land mammals of all shapes and sizes, as well as a startling array of fish and birds. Wildlife watchers should be on the lookout for moose, brown and black bear, wolves, lynx, sea lions, puffins, orcas, cormorants, bald eagles, osprey, songbirds, and the list goes on and on. Catch a boat tour in Seward for great marine mammal viewing in Kenai Fjord NP. Waterbirds and moose are especially thick in Kenai NWR.

Read: Wildlife and Bird-watching at Kenai Fjords NP

Camping
Waterside sites with mountain views—every camper's dream—are a dime a dozen on the Kenai, which boasts hundreds of campsites, both public and private. Bears abound, so it pays to keep a clean camp. Kachemak Bay State Park, at the far end of the peninsula, has a number of walk-in and kayak-in sites, as well as public-use cabins for rent and car-camping sites.

Read: Chugach National Forest

Sightseeing/Scenic Driving
With a network of roads that lead to most corners of the peninsula, Kenai is an accessible wilderness. Drive gape-mouthed along the Seward Highway through the heart of Chugach National Forest to the salty port town of Seward. Exit Glacier is just a short detour and hike off the main road. Or follow Route 1 clear out to funky, artsy Homer.

Read: Top Activities in Chugach National Forest


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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