The Kenai Peninsula has it all. Literally. Within its 16,000 square miles you can experience state and national parks, abundant wildlife, majestic mountains, rivers, lakes and ocean, ancient glaciers, world-class fresh and saltwater fishing, and Alaska’s fascinating history and culture. It’s where Alaskans come to play!
The Kenai Peninsula Borough is 90% wilderness and therefore an ideal location for observing wildlife within their natural habitats. The Kenai serves as the gateway for flightseeing trips to view coastal brown bear and also offers prime viewing areas for marine wildlife. Birding can be especially fulfilling with some of nature's avian special events: the migration of shorebirds in Homer or the gathering of snow geese on the Kenai River flats. Did we mention moose? The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for moose, lynx, wolves, Dall sheep, and more.
If fishing is your thing, the Kenai Peninsula’s river infrastructure supports some of the world’s most abundant salmon runs. Head to the coastal communities of Seward and Homer (and spots in-between) for halibut fishing that will challenge your upper arm strength and your freezer space. Charter operators will get you into prime salmon, trout and halibut habitat, ensuring you go home with plenty for your BBQ!
Another amazing feature of the Kenai Peninsula is water – salt water, fresh water, rivers, lakes, fjords, bays, ocean. The Kenai has a lot of water! Kenai Fjords National Park was carved eons ago by glacial ice and is now a protected space preserving a unique blend of glaciers, marine and terrestrial wildlife, and snow-capped mountain fjords.
Rivers and lakes are prolific throughout the Peninsula and most are a shade of turquoise not often seen in nature – a result of glacial runoff and snowmelt. Kenai Lake and Kenai River cut smack through the middle of the Peninsula and provide a host of aquatic activities.
At the other end of the Kenai is Kachemak Bay and the Homer Spit. This area is known for the almost 360 degrees of truly breathtaking views of mountains meeting ocean. Get out and explore the Bay by sea kayak or charter cruise. Water taxis will take you across the Bay to Kachemak Bay State Park where you can wander the tidal pools and hike into the lush forest.
There are plenty of opportunities for water activities such as canoeing on the Swanson River Canoe Trail System or sea kayaking the hundreds of miles of coastline that surrounds the Peninsula. Or try your hand at the relatively new water sport – stand up paddle boarding (SUP). The Upper Kenai River is a very popular rafting destination for private or guided raft trips. Head over to Six Mile Creek for some of the most adrenaline-pumping Class III - IV (and into Class V) river rafting found anywhere. Kenai Fjords National Park out of Seward and Kachemak Bay State Park out of Homer offer wildlife and glacier cruising, getting you up close and personal with tidewater, piedmont, hanging and valley glaciers and perhaps a whale or two. Last, but not least, the Kenai Peninsula provides the best fair-weather saltwater sailing opportunities in Southcentral Alaska. Sign up for a class, charter a boat or take a day trip!
Have you ever imagined what the last Ice Age actually looked like? See ice that existed 10,000 years ago while flying over the 700-square mile Harding Icefield or cruising in the Kenai Fjords National Park.
There’s plenty of human history on the Kenai too. Captain Cook explored the region, Russians colonized the parts of the eastern coast and Dena’ina Alaska Natives thrived on the Kenai Peninsula. And let’s not forget the Gold Rush, which spurred development of the Alaska Railroad and communities on the Kenai. The Kenai Peninsula is packed with interesting history and culture. Be sure and take time to soak it all in.
Even local Alaskans choose the Kenai to experience the best Alaska has to offer. That’s why we are known as Alaska’s Playground.