I’m writing this from Talkeetna, AK waiting for the weather to clear so I can take a flight-seeing trip around Mt. McKinley (commonly and incorrectly called Denali; the National Park’s name is Denali, the mountains name is McKinley). We’ve been in Alaska for 22 nights and of those nights 16 were on the Kenai Peninsula: three nights in Hope, six nights in Seward, four nights in Soldotna and three in Homer. If and when you come to Alaska I think you will probably want to spend most of your time there as well. Here’s why:
- Mountains: The northern part of the Kenai Peninsula is covered with thick, beautiful mountains! You spend all your time driving in them and through them and it is breathtaking! They aren’t very tall mountains, less than 6000 feet, but because you are usually right at sea level, and you’re right beside them, they look very tall and majestic.
- Glaciers: In Alaska, if there are mountains, there are also going to be many glaciers and the Peninsula has lots of them! Its home to the Kenai Fjord’s National Park, home to the Harding Icefield a 714 square-mile vestige of the last Ice Age. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to see the Harding Icefield, short of flying in. On the other hand, every few minutes of driving brings you to a new hanging Alpine Glacier on the side of some mountain! I never get tired of looking at glaciers!
- Rivers: There are many rivers on the Peninsula, including the Kenai and Russian which are big and beautiful, and flowing right along the mountains.
- Ocean: Because the Peninsula extends out into the ocean, there are many miles of ocean beachfront property. Seward is the northern-most ice-free port in the US so it is a major seaport serviced by the Alaska State Ferry and many Cruise and freight ships.
- Fishing: Because of its abundance of rivers and ocean coastline, the Kenai Peninsula is probably the very best fishing anywhere in the world! Every weekend of the summer Anchorage empty’s out as its residents head south for trophy, world-class salmon and halibut. It also has an abundance of trout, grayling and clam fishing.
- Whale Viewing: All summer, many small ships leave Seward and Whittier full of tourists wanting to get close to the abundance of glaciers nearby and hopefully spot whales, seals, sea lions and other marine mammals; and most do!
- Hunting: There is a very large moose and bear population on the Peninsula and even more just a short flight across the inlet. The Kenai is a very hunting oriented place!
- Gold Prospecting: The reason Europeans first came here is because of gold strikes back in the early 1900s and there is still a lot of small-scale and recreational mining going on today. Our camp in Hope was literally beside an active gold mine on Palmer Creek.
- Bears: Homer is as close as you can get to Katmai NP home of the very best bear-viewing in the world. Every day many small planes leave Homer taking people in to see bears across the Cook Inlet.
If you ever come to Alaska, plan to spend at least half or more of your visit on the Kenai Peninsula because it has the best scenery and wildlife viewing packed into the smallest area. Of course Denali NP must be included on any trip, but it’s further away from anything else and is difficult to see because you can’t drive all the way back. Plus, it has much more fickle and rainy weather than the Kenai has.
There are two main roads; the Seward Highway goes from Anchorage to Seward and the Sterling Highway Ys off at Tern Lake and goes down to Kenai-Soldotna and then all the way down to homer. On your trip I recommend following the basic route we took. To further entice you, I’ll give you some photos of the Kenai Peninsula from this trip. I’ll reserve more photos from the specific towns we camped at. First, here’s a map give to you a reference point.