Alaska’s Playground for World-Class Fishing on Rivers and Open Water
Sitting on Alaska’s southcentral coast between Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound, the Kenai Peninsula is rich with world-class hiking, canoeing, wildlife viewing and fishing opportunities. The peninsula was originally home to Kenaitze Indians and later developed by non-Natives for its fish, oil and other resources. Today, the area thrives on natural resources and its natural beauty, and drawing an international crowd.
The Kenai Peninsula is often referred to as “Alaska’s playground.” It’s an apt description. At 150 miles long and 70 miles wide, the peninsula offers spectacular landscape, moderate weather, copious wildlife and countless recreational activities.
“The Kenai,” as it’s commonly called, is an oasis for outdoor enthusiasts. The Kenai River— known for its trophy-size king (the record is a 97 pound king) and silver salmon—offers some of the best sport fishing in the world. The Russian, Kasilof and Anchor rivers provide fishermen with red salmon, trout and grayling.
The Kenai Peninsula is a magnet for tourists and independent travelers wanting to try their hand at fly fishing, camping in a rustic setting, hiking and exploring the area’s abundant parks.
Visitors to the Kenai can get a fantastic view of Cook Inlet, active volcanoes and hundreds of species of birds. They can also see puffins with brightly colored beaks, groups of harbor seals and humpback whales while touring Kenai Fjords National Park or Kachemak Bay. Adventurers can hike up to the Harding Ice Fields, across Chugach National Forest, into Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and through Kachemak Bay State Park for amazing views of glaciers, majestic mountains and lush forests.
KENAI THRIVES ON NATURAL RESOURCES
The Kenai Peninsula has about 54,000 residents and thrives on its natural resources, (particularly the fishing opportunities), tourism, government and retail industries.
Key cities in the region include Kenai, Sterling, Nikiski, Soldotna, Seldovia, Homer and Seward. Kenai (pop. 7,110), which is renowned for its salmon runs, is reportedly the oldest city on the peninsula.
Just outside Sterling, the Swanson Lakes and River Canoe Trails draw paddlers from around the world to an extraordinary web of 30 lakes over 60 miles and to the 80-mile Swanson River route. These trips include short portages.
OTHER KENAI PENINSULA CITIES
Soldotna (pop. 4,284), Kenai’s “twin” city, offers ready access to the Kenai River and Cook Inlet and is a common choice for those coming to fish.
The communities of Homer and Seward have distinctive characteristics that broaden their appeal. Dubbed the halibut fishing capital of the world, Homer marks the end of the peninsula’s highway system. The city is also known for its award-winning Pratt Museum. Art galleries are abundant thanks to the city’s resident population of artists.
Seward is the southern end of the Alaska Railroad, linked to Anchorage and the Interior by road and rail and it is the gateway for Kenai Fjords National Park’s tour boats. Each July 4th, people pack the town to watch racers run up and tumble down the 3,022-foot Mount Marathon. It’s a scary event to participate in, but it is a thrilling sight to watch. The annual race attracts people from all over Alaska and the world, as does Seward’s Alaska SeaLife Center, a premier aquarium and institution for marine research. This facility rescues and rehabilitates marine wildlife while presenting the public with up close views and educational displays. Make reservations for behind-the-scenes tours.
The Homer spit stretchs into Kachemak Bay at the end of the Kenai Peninsula