KE­NAI PENIN­SULA

Where Alaska - - The Guide -

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.

KE­NAI PENIN­SULA

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

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