Breathtakingly Beautiful Backcountry Lodges & Resorts

13 Nights, 14 Days Exploring The Kenai’s Most Magnificent Wilderness Accommodations

Anchorage – Whittier – Seward – Cooper Landing – Sterling – Halibut Cove – Chinitna Bay

 

DAY ONE: Anchorage

Flickr - Linda

 

Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city and the launching point for your Kenai Peninsula Breathtakingly Beautiful Backcountry Lodges & Resorts once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

 

Pick up a rental vehicle from Innoko Rentals, LLC or ABC Motorhome Rentals.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Learn about Alaska’s profound history, traditions and culture at the Anchorage Museum or the Alaska Native Heritage Center
  • Visit the Oscar Anderson House Museum or the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum
  • Explore nature and wildlife at the Alaska Zoo or the Alaska Botanical Garden
  • Get above it all with a picturesque panoramic view over the city at Flattop Mountain
  • Enjoy a scenic walk with fresh air and incredible views at the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Kincaid Park or the Delaney Park Strip
  • 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 (42 miles away) 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 & THREE: Whittier (61 miles) – Eshamy Bay Lodge (35 nautical miles)

Eshamy Bay Lodge

 

Depart Anchorage and head towards Whittier, where your final destination for the next two nights will be Eshamy Bay Lodge. You have the option to drive to Whittier and take a boat over to the lodge, or you can take a float plane to the lodge from Anchorage. If you decide to take a float plane, we recommend holding off on picking up a rental car until you return from your two day remote staycation in Prince William Sound.

 

If you’ve chosen to drive, 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

 

After you pass the town of Girdwood (where there is also a Tesoro gas station to fuel up), continue on to the charming little town of Portage, population 2. Turn left onto Portage Glacier Road, approximately 52 miles from Anchorage. Along this winding road you’ll be spoiled with spectacular views of hanging glaciers scattered throughout Portage Valley.

 

Next, you’ll drive through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to access the charming coastal town of Whittier. Keep in mind that there is a small toll to pass through this historic tunnel. This is the longest combined road/rail tunnel in North America and a truly fascinating ‘Only in Alaska’ experience to have. Fun fact: Whittier has been named of the ‘weirdest towns in North America’ because nearly the entire year-round population lives under one roof. The summertime is much livelier, while the winter months are rather sleepy and desolate.

 

Optional Activities In Portage:

  • 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
  • Visit the nearby Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage
  • Learn about the local culture and explore all that there is to do in the area with a visit to the local chamber

 

Have lunch at Varly’s Swiftwater Seafood Café in Whittier before hopping on a boat over to Eshamy Bay Lodge. You should arrange transportation with the lodge directly at the time that you make your lodging reservation. You’ll need to spend (at least) two nights here to really get the full effect of the phenomenal beauty that surrounds you.

 

The lodge is located on the western side of Prince William Sound in the heart of the Chugach National Forest. The remote location offers peace and quiet, away from all the busy tourism crowds that Alaska is known for having. This untouched nature paradise is only accessible via boat or float plane, assuring that you get the tranquility that you’re seeking in a remote wilderness lodge. While staying at the lodge you’ll be fed delicious meals each day in this all-inclusive pristine coastal paradise.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Go saltwater fishing for salmon, halibut, ling cod, and rock fish in Prince William Sound
  • Go fly fishing in freshwater for dolly varden trout, cut throat trout, and multiple species of salmon in Eshamy Creek through Eshamy Lagoon and up to Eshamy Lake
  • Enjoy a sea kayaking adventure through the picturesque shoes of Prince William Sound
  • Enjoy a world-class whale watching and wildlife viewing excursion right from the waters that surround you
  • Go berry picking and hiking in the lush Chugach National Forest

 

DAY FOUR & FIVE: Whittier (35 nautical miles) – Seward (89 miles) – Fox Island (12 nautical miles)

Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge

 

Return to Whittier from Eshamy Bay Lodge. Depart Whittier on Portage Glacier Road, back through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. Head south on the Seward Highway towards the beautiful town of Seward.

 

For the 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.

 

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.

 

Once you arrive in Seward, you can park in a paid city parking lot for as low as $10 a day. Next, a short 45 minute boat ride from Seward will take you 12 nautical miles southeast to the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge on Fox Island. A Kenai Fjords Tour is the only way to reach the remote lodge on Fox Island. Due to your long days drive from Whittier, we recommend taking a relaxing dinner cruise over to Fox Island to ease yourself into the enchanting wilderness escape that you’re about to experience.

 

Reward yourself with a two night stay at this remote wilderness retreat where you’ll dine on delicious gourmet cuisine and spend your nights relaxing by the picturesque beachside campfire. This is a truly wild place with minimal carbon footprint. The lodge runs on solar and propane generator power. With large windows that have the keen ability to bring the outdoors inside, don’t be surprised if you catch occasional views of a sea lions or a humpback whales making a surprise visit.

 

On your second day, definitely hop on a Kenai Fjords Tour to prepare to experience Alaska’s #1 rated wildlife and glacier cruise. Choose from a Resurrection Bay or Northwestern Fjord cruise and enjoy a half day or full day excursion through the awe-inspiring shores of Resurrection Bay taking you deep into the waters of Kenai Fjords National Park. Experience enchanting views of towering glaciers and abundant sealife onboard a luxury cruise. Wildlife viewing opportunities include orca wales, humpback whales, gray whales, Dall’s porpoises, stellar sea lions, puffins, eagles and so much more.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Take a guided beach walk with a knowledgeable naturalist and learn about the local area
  • Take a guided sea kayaking tour and experience plunging waterfalls and breathtaking vistas 
  • Do your own thing and spend the day hiking throughout the lush forest the surrounds you

 

DAY SIX & SEVEN: Seward (12 nautical miles) – Cooper Landing (48 miles)

Kenai Backcountry Lodge

 

Return to Seward via Kenai Fjords Tour from Fox Island. Depart Seward and head towards the abundantly beautiful town of Cooper Landing, nestled in the Kenai Mountains and the lush Chugach National Forest. 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 for about 12 miles before reaching Cooper Landing.

 

Spend the next two nights at Kenai Backcountry Lodge, located on the glacial carved banks of Skilak Lake. This all-inclusive historic wilderness lodge offers just nine private guest cabins to ensure a small group atmosphere and top-notch hospitality with minimal carbon footprint. Nestled in the heart of the 2.2 million acre Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, guests staying at this idyllic nature escape will have the possibility to enjoy exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities nearby.

 

To access the Kenai Backcountry Lodge, you’ll go to the Alaska Wildlife Adventures office in Cooper Landing, where you’ll be transported by shuttle to Skilak Lake Loop, followed by a short boat ride to the remote wilderness haven that awaits your arrival. As this is an all-inclusive experience, you’ll have delicious meals to chow down on throughout the entirety of your stay.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Learn about the local area and soak in mountainous eye-candy on a guided hike down Cottonwood Trail
  • Enjoy an after-dinner guided kayaking excursion on Skilak Lake and paddle into the sunset
  • Sleep in and spend the day leisurely relaxing while soaking in the utter peace and quiet that surrounds you

 

While we have you staying here for just two nights on a self-designed stand-alone package, there are other package options that you can also take advantage of as well. Other choices include a combined wilderness stay with a stay at the Kenai Riverside Lodge and/or the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge. A stay at the Glacier Lodge would be a great alternative option to staying at the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge on Fox Island. You can also join Alaska Wildland Adventures on a multi-day, all-inclusive guided journey that includes a stay at the above mentioned backcountry lodge. View all of your incredible options HERE.

 

DAY EIGHT & NINE: Sterling (32 miles)

Great Alaska Adventures

 

Depart Cooper Landing and continue south on the Sterling Highway to the Great Alaska Adventure Lodge, located in the picturesque town of Sterling on the shores of the Kenai River.

 

Spend two nights in this enchanting oasis, and choose from an in-town stay at the luxury lodge, or a backcountry stay at the remote Alaska Bear Camp. If you are someone who seeks balance, we recommend splitting up your trip to spend one night in the woods and one night at the riverside lodge. If you’re okay with slightly less frills and enjoy having once-in-a-lifetime experiences, the backcountry option will definitely rock your world and fuel your wanderlust.

 

You’ll load up with a small group of 4-6 people onto a small aircraft before departing from an airstrip in Soldotna (45 miles away). On your short 45 minute flight, you’ll pass overtop of towering mountains, lush forest landscapes, and glorious glaciers, while occasionally spotting wildlife such as bear and moose along the way. If you’re a photographer (amature or professional) you won’t be able to resist capturing awe-inspiring images of Mount Iliamna and Kalgin Island in the distance.

 

When you arrive at camp, you’ll notice that you are nestled in the heart of bear country. This is premier Alaska bear viewing at its utmost finest. Watch in amazement as brown bears feed on the succulent grasses surrounding the camp. Because this is a permanent camp that is visited daily, the bears are accustomed to the presence of humans which allows you to relax and be at ease in the majestic environment that surrounds you.

 

Your overnight accommodations at the remote camp include custom weather-port cabins/tents that sleep two and are equip with modest amenities. You’ll enjoy delicious family-style meals including meats, pasta, wild Alaska seafood, and delightful wines that are flown in from the main lodge located in Sterling.

 

Optional Activities:

  • The ‘ultimate combination’ features world-class bear viewing, fishing, scenic float, and glacier viewing
  • Enjoy wildlife viewing on a scenic float in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and beyond
  • Work up a sweat while soaking in fresh air and spectacular views on a mountain biking trek
  • Learn more about the renowned  ‘great Alaska photo safari’ experience

 

DAY TEN & ELEVEN: Homer (90 miles) – Halibut Cove (12 nautical miles)

Alaska’s Ridgewood Wilderness Lodge, LLC

 

Depart Sterling heading south on the Sterling Highway to Homer, and then on to Halibut Cove. Along the way you’ll drive through some of The Kenai’s most scenic small towns including Soldotna, Kasilof, Clam Gulch, Ninilchik, and Anchor Point. Throughout every winding town there are a tremendous amount of scenic pullouts along the way.

 

Optional Activities Along The Way:

  • Check out a variety of fun local events, great fishing, and scenic boardwalk sights at Soldotna Creek Park
  • Go beach combing and watch surfcasters reel in halibut at Kasilof Beach
  • Head up into the Caribou Hills to enjoy ATV’ing, wildlife viewing, hiking and more
  • Scenic pullouts at Falls Creek, Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek, Whiskey Gulch or the Anchor River

 

Arrive in Homer, Alaska! This cosmic oasis by the sea is known as the ‘halibut fishing capital of the world’ and has been voted as the Happiest Seaside Town in America by Coastal Magazine.

 

Drive all the way down to the 4.5 mile stretch of land jutting out into the renowned Kachemak Bay, known as the Homer Spit. Park your rental car in a designated public parking area. Depart Homer for Halibut Cove via a short boat ride, float plane flight, or helicopter trip that will take you right across the bay into a majestic backcountry wilderness setting. The Danny J Ferry is a highly recommended transportation option that offers scenic vistas, birding, and marine wildlife viewing as you sail across Kachemak Bay into Halibut Cove.

 

No matter which transportation method you choose, spectacular glacier views inside Kachemak Bay State Park will reward you with the most enchanting dose of eye-candy.

 

In Halibut Cove you’ll be nestled on the shores of Kachemak Bay State Park, Alaska's first state park, and only wilderness park, containing roughly 400,000 acres of mountains, glaciers, forests and ocean.

 

Choose from a two night stay in Halibut Cove at Alaska Stillpoint Lodge or Alaska’s Ridgewood Wilderness Lodge. Both options will provide you with private, premier accommodations and remarkably delicious cuisine to keep your taste buds satisfied for the entirety of your private, peaceful staycation.

 

Optional Activities:

  • Go sea kayaking around icebergs while viewing a notable amount of shorebirds and glacier views
  • Visit The Saltry for lunch or dinner, and enjoy delightful amounts of stunning local artwork
  • Take advantage of viewing opportunities including moose, black bear, mountain goats, and a verity of birds
  • Hike the 3.2 mile trail around Grewingk Glacier Lake through lush cottonwoods and Sitka spruce trees
  • Visit Gull Island (halfway between Homer and Halibut Cove) and home to more than 16,000 nesting seabirds including puffins, kittiwakes, murres, and cormorants 
  • Book a saltwater fishing trip or a wildlife viewing excursion HERE

 

DAY TWELVE & THIRTEEN: Homer (12 nautical miles) – Chinitna Bay by Lake Clark National Park (45 air miles)

Bear Mountain Lodge

Return to Homer via ferry (12 nautical miles) before zipping a few miles down the road to the Homer Airport. Here, you’ll catch a quick hour-long flight over to Bear Mountain Lodge located on the southern end of Lake Clark National Park.

 

The flight alone will make your jaw-drop in amazement. Soak in the epic views of active volcanoes, glaciers, rivers, streams, and plentiful amounts of wildlife. In fact, they’ve even had past guests that have counted OVER 100 bears just on the way in to the lodge. Can you believe that? Only on Alaska’s Playground! Other area wildlife that have been spotted include whales, porpoises, coyotes, wolves, beavers, porcupines, moose, and various bird species. Upon landing, you’ll pull up on the serene beachfront shores directly in front of the lodge. As no roads lead into this majestic wilderness property, be prepared to have some furry critters greet you on the beach as you land.

 

Bear Mountain Lodge is an Alaskan owned and operated business, by lifelong Alaska residents. This exclusive lodge sits on some of the only privately owned land adjacent to Lake Clark National Park. Stay at this exceptional little oasis in the middle of a lush wilderness setting. Private cabins with modern conveniences offer peace and quiet away from the crowds. When you’re here, you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from everything. As the final leg of your trip, soak in the magical environment that surrounds you and take time to fully unplug, refresh your soul, and revive your mind.

 

Enjoy daily up close & personal bear viewing adventures and an all-inclusive experience with mouthwatering meals provided throughout the entirety of your stay.

 

DAY FOURTEEN: Return to Homer (45 air miles) then on to Anchorage (221 miles)

Flickr – Sanjoy Ghosh

 

Return to Homer from Chinitna Bay before hopping in your rental vehicle and continuing back northbound on the Sterling Highway to Anchorage. Make your way to the Seward Highway junction where you’ll turn left and continue all the way into the city of Anchorage.

 

Important Travel Note: Flights from Chinitna Bay are also available northbound to Anchorage, so if you don’t want to drive the long 221 miles from Homer to Anchorage (again), consider renting a vehicle that allows you to drop off in Homer so that you can flight straight back to the Ted Stevens International Airport after the final night of your excursion. Another option would be to do the Chinitna Bay leg at the beginning of your trip, before picking up your rental vehicle in Anchorage. We want to assure that you know your options so that you can choose the package that best suits your needs and desires.