Enchanting & Easily Accessible Wilderness Adventures

9 Nights, 10 Days Exploring The Kenai’s Incredible Nature Excursions

Anchorage – Girdwood – Portage – Hope – Seward – Cooper Landing – Sterling

 

DAY ONE: Anchorage

Flickr – Karen

 

Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city and the launching point for your Kenai Peninsula Enchanting & Easily Accessible Wilderness Adventures. Pick up a rental vehicle from Innoko Rentals, LLC or ABC Motorhome Rentals.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Explore nature and wildlife at the Alaska Zoo or the Alaska Botanical Garden
  • Get above it all with a hike to the picturesque panoramic views over the city at Flattop Mountain
  • Enjoy a scenic walk with fresh air and incredible views on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Kincaid Park, Campbell Creek Trail, or the Delaney Park Strip
  • Kick off your vacation with a scenic wilderness trip with the historic Alaska Railroad company
  • Learn about the local culture and explore all that there is to do in the area with a visit to the local chamber

 

Overnight in Anchorage at any of these great hotels and motels listed HERE. If you’re looking for a resort lodging experience, head down to Girdwood a night early and stay at Alyeska Resort.

 

Yummy restaurants in Anchorage include Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria, Jen’s Restaurant, Table 6, Club Paris, Glacier Brewhouse, and Gwennie’s Old Alaska Restaurant. If you choose to overnight in Girdwood, check out the local resort restaurants or try the Double Musky Inn, Jack Sprat, or The Bake Shop.

 

DAY TWO: Girdwood – Portage – Hope (88 miles)

Flickr – Paxson Woelber

 

Get up early and grab breakfast in town before departing Anchorage and head towards the town of Girdwood, voted as The Best Ski Town in the World by National Geographic. Girdwood is 40 miles from Anchorage, Portage is eight more miles south from there.

 

Take the scenic Seward Highway heading south towards the Kenai Peninsula. The Seward Highway was voted America's Most Outstanding Scenic Byway by Scenic America, and trust us – it’s a phenomenal driving experience.

 

Hop in your rental car and follow the breathtakingly beautiful Turnagain Arm while enjoying many interpretative rest stops and viewpoints along the way. Depending on the season, it is not unusual to spot beluga whales or Dall sheep from your car window. You might even spot a bear munching on berries or roaming throughout the mountainside.

 

Stops Along The Way:

  • McHugh Creek (Mile 111); enjoy a hike or picnic in the Anchorage foothills of the Chugach State Park
  • Beluga Point (Mile 110.5); great opportunities for viewing beluga whales from mid-July through August
  • Bird Creek (Mile 101); fisherman’s paradise with observation platforms that photographers will love
  • Bird Point (Mile 96); a scenic stop where you can enjoy a long hike or bike ride with spectacular views

 

Historic Tour and Gold Mining: Visit the renowned Crow Creek Historic Gold Mine, located 42 miles south of Anchorage. From the Seward Highway, turn left onto Alyeska Highway and veer left onto Crow Creek Road where you will follow the winding path up to the mine. Established in 1896, Crow Creek Mine is one of Alaska’s most renowned hydraulic gold mining operations in state history. The mine provides a unique opportunity to relive the historic Gold Rush Era that Alaska is so well known for. Visitors can enjoy a unique blend of historical buildings including the ‘Mess Hall’ which is actually the oldest building in the Anchorage municipality on the National Register of Historic Places. Other attractions include many antigues, mining equiptment, lush gardens, breathtaking mountain scenery and even hiking trails the run along the Historic Iditarod Trail. Plus, you can even explore and prospect the mines’ original claims. If you have gold rush fever, this exceptional experience will transport you to the past.

 

Epic Outdoor Tours: Go rafting, kayaking, canoeing, or hiking with Chugach Adventures based out of Girdwood. Experience an overwhelming about of eye-candy as you soak in Alaska’s striking glaciers, rivers, wildlife, and mountainous scenery. Choose from a mellow float to an adrenaline-packed whitewater rafting adventure. The tours to Spencer Lake are among the most popular, plus they also have helicopter tours and mult-day packages for those wanting to get far off the beaten path, away from the crowds.

 

Wildlife Sanctuary: Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in the town of Portage. With a mission dedicated to providing refuge for orphaned, injured and ill animals who cannot survive in the wild – you’ll feel good about the small $10 - $15 fee it costs to get in. Throw on a good pair of walking shoes and get ready to experience this 200-acre animal paradise filled with moose, bears, caribou, elk, deer, wolves, wood bison, birds and more. We guarantee that won’t be able to contain your excitement when you see all of these adorable, majestic critters up-close-and-personal. We recommend spending at least two hours here in order to really experience all that there is to offer.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Go wildlife viewing and stroll the boardwalk through several ponds at the Moose Flats Wetland Trail
  • Learn about the historic Portage Valley at the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center
  • Hike out around Portage Lake or through the valley to Byron Glacier
  • Explore the glaciated waters of Prince William Sound via kayak or water taxi; book a tour HERE
  • Learn about the local culture and explore all that there is to do in the area with a visit to the local chamber

 

Unless you choose to stay overnight in Girdwood to fully enjoy all of the above mentioned activities that your heart desires, we recommend continuing on to spend the second night of your trip in the idyllic town of Hope.

 

From Portage for next 30 miles, you’ll wind through the mountainous Turnagain Pass (mile 68.3) passing by the gorgeous east fork of Sixmile Creek (mile 61.7) before crossing the gold-bearing Canyon Creek (mile 56.7). Stop along the way and enjoy the scenic pullouts that your heart desires.

 

Turn right at Hope Junction. Follow the road into the town of Hope, known as the historical mountain hideaway by the sea. It’s been a long day, so you’ll likely want to check into a comfortable abode for the night to prepare for your epic adventures tomorrow.

 

After such a long day of adventure, prepare to spend two nights in the peaceful town of Hope. Seaview Café, which also has great food. Another delicious dining option in town is Tito’s Discovery Café. For additional lodging options in town, contact the local chamber for more ideas to suit your every need.

 

 

DAY THREE: Hope

Chugach Outdoor Center

 

Wake up, eat breakfast, and then prepare to experience a wet and wild adventure that will make your jaw-drop.

 

Whitewater Rafting: For a surefire thrill, hop on a Class IV & V (four and five) whitewater rafting trip down the scenic Sixmile Creek. You can also choose to enjoy scenic floats, glacier viewing, and fishing adventures. Choose from one of these two great companies HERE to book your tour today.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Enjoy a leisurely outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, or beach combing
  • Learn about the local culture and explore all that there is to do in the area with a visit to the local chamber

 

 

DAY FOUR, FIVE, SIX: Moose Pass – Seward (72 miles)

Bardy’s Trail Rides

 

Head out of one road leading into Hope and make your way back towards the Seward Highway. At Hope Junction, turn right onto the Seward Highway heading south towards the charming coastal town of Seward.

 

Continue going straight past the Sterling Highway turn-off and continuing south. Directly after this point, turn right and enjoy a scenic stop at Tern Lake. Here you can enjoy a plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities as you snap photos of the majestic mountains reflecting like a mirror into the waters below. Wildlife viewing includes beavers, river otters, muskrats, and salmon. In the distance you might even be able to spot moose and Dall sheep.

 

Make your way eight miles down the road where you’ll drive through the picturesque town of Moose Pass. Stop for lunch and a peaceful stroll on the shores of Trail Lake Lodge. Look for trumpeter swans enjoying an afternoon swim out on the lake or moose munching along the shoreline before continuing on to Seward.

 

Arrive in Seward and prepare to spend three nights here.

 

Glacier Hike: Seward is filled with incredible wilderness adventures. Once you arrive in town, turn right on Herman Leirer Road off the Seward Highway and continue driving down it for just under nine miles. The two-lane road merges into Exit Glacier Road, which will lead you right to your next destination, the Exit Glacier Nature Center. Get out and stretch your legs with an easily-accessible hike to Exit Glacier, the only glacier inside Kenai Fjords National Park that is reachable via road. The well-traveled path leading up to the glacier is anywhere between 1.5 and 5 miles round trip (out and back) depending on how far you want to go. If you wish to tackle a lengthier hiking excursion, continue on up to the Harding Icefield Trail. Guided hiking excursions are available HERE. These trails are recommended to be traveled from May-September of each year, with the ‘off season’ fall, winter, and spring months being much more hazardous.

 

Dog Sled Tour: For a once in a lifetime truly Alaskan adventure, head to Ididaride Sled Dog Tours, Inc. Not only was this voted the ‘Best Dog Sled Ride In Alaska’ but it’s also home to quite the admirable namesakes. This is the home base for the current 2017 Iditarod champion (and three time total winner), Mitch Seavey. It is also the home base for his son, Dallas Seavey, the youngest musher in history to ever win the Iditarod. But enough about them… let’s talk about those adorable athletes! If you are a dog lover, a history buff, sports lover, or just someone looking to soak in a fascinating dose of the local culture; this tour is a MUST. Go for a dog sled ride and spent the afternoon cuddling adorable, super-intelligent husky puppies. Experience the home of the world’s greatest athletes.

 

Ziplining: Go ziplining and enjoy traversing through a beautiful Pacific Temperate Rainforest with Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures. As the only zipling tour on Alaska’s playground, you don’t want to miss this enthralling adventure through the treetops. Clip into your gear before spending the afternoon hopping from treetop platforms in the middle of towering Sitka spruce trees overlooking a breathtaking glaciated valley.

 

Horseback Riding: Visit Bardy’s Trail Ride to see gorgeous and easily accessible areas up close and personal, via horseback. View impressive bald eagles as the soar above you by the masses. Learn about the notorious 1964 Good Friday Earthquake, the most powerful recorded in North American history. Soak in majestic coastal scenery while you ride to where the colorful wildflowers meet the bay.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Take a walk at Seward Waterfront Park or head down the road to the Lowell Point State Recreation Area
  • Get elevated on a flightseeing, helicopter or glacier landing adventure; book a tour HERE
  • Take a deep-sea fishing charter out and reel in Salmon, Halibut, Black Bass, and Ling Cod; book a tour HERE
  • Go sea-kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding around Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords; book a tour HERE
  • Learn about the local culture and explore all that there is to do in the area with a visit to the local chamber

 

In order to all of the superb, easily-accessible wilderness adventures that Seward has to offer, we recommend staying for two to three nights minimal. View a list of hotels and motels HERE and a list of resort properties and cabins HERE. If you prefer to stay in a cozy bed and breakfast, view options HERE. If you want to get away from it all, consider staying at the remote Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge on Fox Island, just a short 45 minute boat ride from Seward. For delicious dining recommendations, click HERE.

 

Delicious dining options in town include Christo’s Palace, Exit Glacier Salmon Bake, Breeze Inn and Resurrection Roadhouse at the Seward Windsong Lodge. Additional dining options are available HERE

 

DAY SEVEN & EIGHT: Cooper Landing (48 miles)

Prospector John’s

 

Depart Seward and head towards Cooper Landing. You’ll need to backtrack on the Seward Highway for about 36 miles before turning left onto the Sterling Highway (at Tern Lake) where you’ll then follow that same road all the way down into Cooper Landing.

 

Follow the road for about 12 miles as it twists and turns into the town of Cooper Landing. Along the way, the striking beauty of the towering Kenai Mountains and the fiercely-blue Kenai Lake will give you a major dose of eye-candy. The breathtakingly beautiful glacial waters of the world-renowned Kenai River will leave you gasping for air.

 

Mountain Biking & Stand Up Paddleboarding: Go on a guided mountain biking or stand-up paddleboarding tour (or both) in the heart of the Chugach National Forest with Adventure GURU. Paddle around the shores of Kenai Lake and Kenai River, or mountain bike on historic gold mining era trails. It’ll be hard not to fall in love with the towering Kenai Mountains that surround you. With an exclusive permit, these knowledgeable guides are able to take groups on utterly awe-inspiring and adrenaline-packed eco adventures on Alaska’s playground. The safe (and super stylish) gear that you’ll be outfitted in will look awesome in all of your photographs, plus it’s not bulky or uncomfortable like the typical stuff you’re used to. This is a new adventure outfit on the Kenai Peninsula, and we have a feeling they’ll be around for a very long time.

 

Gold Prospecting: Visit Prospector John’s and prepare to experience more accessible wilderness fun than you’ve ever dreamt imaginable. Learn to prospect for gold and dig for gems and fossils. Go gold prospecting on a wild Alaskan stream combined with a scenic Kenai River float trip. The lush forest setting combined with the towering snow-capped mountains, is sure to take your breath away. You can even build your very own custom trip. The gift shop is filled with lots of hand-made souvenirs, gold nugget jewelry, and fossils and gemstones of all varieties. Don’t forget to try Prospector John’s wild meat jerky!

 

Optional Activities:

  • Take a scenic stroll on the shores of Kenai Lake down Snug Harbor Road
  • Venture to the Russian River and enjoy walking the well-maintained trails or fishing for trout and salmon
  • Take a two-mile hike up to the Russian River Falls where you’ll likely find bears feasting on salmon
  • Enjoy guided fishing or scenic floats on the spectacular Kenai River; book a tour HERE

 

With so many excellent and easily-accessible wilderness adventures available in Cooper Landing, prepare to spend (at least) two nights in town to fully soak in the fairytale-like outdoor opportunities that await.

 

Click HERE and choose from a list of exceptional lodges, resorts, and cabins to spend your next two nights. If you prefer the more intimate setting of a Bed & Breakfast, consider staying at The Hutch B&B.

 

The historic roadhouse at Gwin’s Lodge is an excellent place to grab any meal of the day. Sackett’s Kenai Grill is a great local place to grab lunch or dinner, while the restaurant at Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge offers decadent cuisine with million dollar views overlooking the Kenai River.

 

DAY NINE: Sterling (34 miles)

Yelp – Matt F

 

Continue south on the Sterling Highway for the next 34 miles before reaching the charming little town of Sterling.

 

Aquatic Activities: When you visit Alaska Canoe & Campground you’ll quickly notice just how proud they are to be located in the heart of the Kenai Peninsula, a world-class destination for canoeing, kayaking, and rafting. They offer many different types of kayak, canoe, and raft rental to meet your every tailored need and desire. Their location between the Swanson River Canoe System and the Kenai River offers an endless amount of scenic views with abundant wildlife viewing opportunities along the way.

 

While you’re in Sterling, be sure to check out Pye Wackets. This incredibly inviting shop is filled with aromatic incenses, candles, oils, herbs, teas, books, and much more.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Go fishing and have fun reeling in a variety of species, including salmon and trout; book a tour HERE
  • Take a short plane trip across the inlet to go bear viewing in the backcountry; book a tour HERE
  • Visit the Izaak Walton State Park to enjoy public fishing, scenic views, or a nice walk in the woods

 

Stay one night in Sterling. Click HERE to choose from a list of incredible lodges, resorts, and cabins in town. For a good list of varying restaurant options, we recommend driving 11 miles south to the town of Soldotna, known as Alaska’s Kenai River City. Click HERE for a list of delicious dining choices.

 

DAY TEN: Return to Anchorage (136 miles)

Flickr – Eugen Marculescu

 

Backtrack north on the Sterling Highway. Make your way to the Seward Highway Junction where you’ll turn left and continue all the way into the city of Anchorage.

 

Travel Note: If you choose to venture further down south on the Kenai Peninsula to experience the easily-accessible wilderness adventure in Soldotna, Kenai, Nikiski, Kasilof, Clam Gulch, Ninilchik, Anchor Point, Homer, and beyond… be sure to reach out to us HERE if you need any help finding fun things to do in the area.