Chances are you are going to Alaska to explore the extraordinary landscape and wildlife that the state has to offer. Many visitors will head to Denali National Park, and for good reasons, the park is a must-see while in Alaska. But in our mind, the Kenai Fjords National Park is another one, and the Kenai Peninsula as a whole should be on any Alaska itinerary. Let us take you to the top things to do in Kenai Alaska, and see by yourself why you should visit this area.
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Kenai Travel Guide Table of Content
- What to See in Kenai Peninsula: Seward, Kenai Fords, and more
- Top Things to Do in Kenai: Hiking, Bear watching, glacier hiking, whale-watching, fishing, wildlife
- Kenai Peninsula Itineraries: One Day, 3 Days, and 5 Days
- Weather in Kenai
- Kenai Lodging
- Kenai Travel Facts
What to See in Kenai Peninsula Alaska
The Kenai Peninsula is a massive inland south of Anchorage, separated from the Alaskan mainland on the east side by the Prince William Sound and the west side by the Cook Inlet. The area’s main highlights are the popular Kenai Fjords National Park, but towns like Homer and Seward are also worth considering.
From the rugged coastline, the snow-covered and glaciers of the Kenai Mountains, the quaint towns, and fishing opportunities, the Kenai Peninsula should be explored beyond the Kenai Fjords National Park.
With around 90% of the area essentially wilderness, the Kenai Peninsula is the perfect outdoor paradise. But given the size of the area, make sure to take time to read below before you plan a trip to Kenai AK.
Kenai Peninsula Map
Here are the top things to do in Kenai Peninsula, from small towns to rugged outdoor activities.
Some 120 miles from Anchorage, the small town is known for its wildlife tours and a connected hub of the Alaska railroad. Settled in Resurrection Bay on the Gulf of Alaska, Seward is the perfect hub to visit Kenai Fjords National Park, as it connects the Kenai Peninsula from Anchorage. Plan a trip to Seward and start exploring the Kenai area.
Kenai Fjords National Park
Headed to Seward will let you access Kenai Fjords National Park. Known for the impressive Harding Icefield and by far the Kenai Peninsula top attraction, the park is also popular thanks to its wildlife, historical remains, et combination of fjords and rainforests. The location makes for easy access to stunning landscapes and glaciers.
Kenai Peninsula things to do include glacier hiking, dog-sledding, Kenai bear viewing, helicopter landing, Kenai Fjords boat tours, kayaking, hiking – all top things to do in Kenai Fjords National Park!
Kachemak Bay State Park
An arm of Cook Inlet, the state park can only be reached by boat or plane, most of which from Homer. Take a water taxi and head to Glacier Lake Trail, and explore the large roadless wilderness. An awesome location for wildlife watching, including puffins and eagles, moose and black bears, sea otters, seals, whales, and porpoises. In addition to backpacking on rustic campgrounds, it is possible to book via the Kachemak Bay State Park overnight stays in cabins and yurts.
In addition to hiking, the area is known for awesome kayaking and canoeing opportunities thanks to the 125-mile Kachemak Bay Water Trail that runs from Homer Spit Alaska, up to the city of Seldovia.
The small city of Homer is located in Kachemak Bay at the tip of the Kenai Peninsula, gaining its nickname of “the end of the road.” The main attraction of Homer is the Homer Spit, a long stretch of shore featuring seafood restaurants and shops and a nice beach strip.
Click here to find out more about things to do in Homer Alaska.
Top Things to Do in Kenai Alaska
There are plenty of adventurous things to do in Kenai, and we are listing here some of the Kenai tours you might want to join as well.
Unique Kenai Things to Do
Having said that, we wanted to share what we think are Kenai must-do, so here they are. If you are short on time, these Kenai activities will be the highlights of your trip.
- Visit Kenai Fjords National Park
- Explore the Kenai Peninsula up to Homer
- Join one of the Kenai Fjords tours to cruise along the fjords
- Go on a Kenai River fishing trip for a chance to catch wild salmon
- Board a flightseeing plane to see the Grizzly Bears at the Brooks Falls in the Katmai National Park
If you are looking for more specific outdoor activities in Kenai, see what adventurous experiences are possible.
With over 400 miles of trails, every hiker will find a trail for his or her shoes. From walking by remote lakes and waterfalls to ice-climbing Exit Glacier or Godwin Glacier, day hikes or multi-day treks are available for all levels of fitness and duration.
Kenai White-Water Rafting
The 17-mile stretch of the Upper Kenai River is a trendy rafting destination with up to Class III rapids. More challenging Class III and Class IV rapids are available for more experienced rafters on Sixmile Creek. Most white-water rafting adventures start from Cooper Landing and Hope.
Resurrection Bay or Kachemak Bay from Homer, where you can explore the numerous coves and fjords along the coastline for a day or over multiple-day trips. Seward and Cooper Landing are the main hubs for kayaking adventures. Watch for the Kenai tides when preparing your trip.
Board an airplane, a seaplane, a helicopter, and even a ski-plane, and enjoy the bird’s views of the Kenai Mountains. Your flight might take you over the Kenai Fjords National Park, the Chugach National Forest, or basically any park on the Peninsula. Besides fantastic views, these flightseeing trips can have you land on a glacier or get close to some of the most famous Alaska wildlife, including bears. Seward and Homer are the best places to board such flights. From Homer, you can even take a flight to see the Grizzly Bears of the Katmai National Park, combining stunning scenery with the mindblowing experience of being almost face-to-face with Grizzlies!
Wildlife and Bear Viewing
The Kenai Peninsula has a large population of black and brown (grizzly) bears, but places like the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge are also home to large numbers of moose and lynx, wolves, and Dall sheep, caribou. Some of the most impressive bears are in Katmai and Wolverine Creek. Homer and Soldotna are the main hubs for wildlife viewing tours.
If you are interested in Kenai brown bears, you might want to check Katmai brown bears as well, a short flight from Anchorage.
Orcas, porpoise, whales all roam Resurrection Bay and the Kenai Fjords National Park. A whale-watching cruise is the best way to explore the area and give you the best chance to spot one of the massive marine animals. Plus, many of these Kenai fjord cruise tours include glacier viewing as well, so that’s a great way to discover what Alaska is about.
Kenai River Fishing
From Homer, it’s easy to arrange for a salmon fishing trip. Indeed, four different species of salmon return in the hundreds of thousands to the Peninsula rivers every summer. If you are looking for a treat, head to the Kenai River for a chance to catch some King Salmons, the largest of all salmon. Fishing requires permits, where each river, each species of salmon has its own requirements based on season and quotas. Be sure to check the Kenai River fishing reports and get the relevant reports.
We had a try at Kenai fishing, and I have to say it was a definite experience. Fly fishing along a small river, watching bald eagles hanging high on treetops, and finally – finally! Catching a salmon after several hours was a neat experience. The regulations had us release one or two we had initially caught, but we finally hooked one we could keep. We grilled it back at our cabin in Homer, eating out on the outside porch, and I can tell you salmon never tasted that good!
Kenai Peninsula Itinerary Suggestions
The Kenai Peninsula has so much to offer that you could spend days there and barely scratch the surface. But we all have limited time, so whether you have a day or several, here are some ideas on how to plan your Kenai Peninsula road trip.
One Day in Kenai Alaska
Even if you have only one day, Kenai Alaska is worth visiting! While Denali is the iconic Alaska attraction, Kenai and the surrounding area were an unexpected “discovery” for us. It will be a long drive back and forth from Anchorage (3 hours each way), but the scenic drive itself is stunning.
So if you are on a time crunch, keep it light:
- Leave Anchorage as early as you can – make good use of the long hours of daylight, and drive from Anchorage to Seward.
- Board a half-day day cruise to Kenai Fjords and Resurrection Bay to admire glaciers and marine life in the morning
- After lunching in Seward, head to the Kenai Fjords National Park to admire Exit Glacier as part of your afternoon activities. Since the glacier is so easily accessible, this can be done within one hour.
- Return to Anchorage late in the evening. Watch for wildlife that likes to roam in the darker hours.
3 Days in the Kenai Peninsula
A 3-Day Kenai Itinerary could follow this plan:
Day 1: Anchorage to Seward + Resurrection Bay Cruise
- Leave Anchorage in the early morning hours, and drive the scenic road from Anchorage to Seward along the Turnagain Arm.
- Board a full day cruise to Kenai Fjords and Resurrection Bay to admire glaciers and marine life
- Spend the night in Seward
Day 2: Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park
- Visit the Alaska SeaLife Center first since it is in Seward
- Head to Exit Glacier
- Afternoon options can include a local hike to discover the park landscape or booking a helicopter or flightseeing tour.
- Spend the night in Seward
Day 3: Whittier and Portage Glacier
- Leave Seward behind and drive towards Whittier in the morning
- Stop at the Portage Glacier viewpoint
- Lunch in Seward to admire Prince William Sound
- For the afternoon activities, head to Byron Glacier for a short hike
- Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
- Drive back to Anchorage
Kenai Peninsula 5-Day Itinerary
This 5-day Kenai itinerary follows the same first two days of the previous 3-day itinerary, but the two additional days allow for a visit to Homer, located 170 miles from Seward, on a stunning 3-hour drive.
Day 3: Drive from Seward to Homer
- Drive south towards Homer passing through Soldotna and the historic town of Kenai
- Once in Homer, wander Homer Spit and admire the views of the Kachemak Bay. Walk the artsy downtown area. Savor a great seafood dinner at one of the restaurants.
- In the evening, soak in the sunset from Homer Spit
- Spend the night in Homer
Day 4: Explore Homer
- Consider a flightseeing trip from Homer in the afternoon
- Or join a bear viewing tour to Katmai National Park
- Or board a boat to Seldovia
- Fishing enthusiasts might want to look into a halibut sea fishing tour
- Spend the night in Homer
Day 5: Kenai River Fishing &
- Go fly-fishing early morning on the Kenai River
- In the afternoon, head to Girdwood for a stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
- If time permits, go on a short hike to Byron Glacier by Portage Lake
- Drive back to Anchorage
There are plenty of hotels in Kenai Alaska to choose from. But that’s not the only accommodation style possible. Renting a cabin, driving an RV, and staying at the campground are also available throughout the Peninsula. However, given the short travel season in Alaska, make sure to book your room or site early.
The Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge is rather famous as it sits in the Kenai Fjords National Park overlooking the Kenai River valley. But you can find rooms for all budgets.
There are hundreds of RV sites and campgrounds on the Kenai Peninsula so you are most likely going to find a place suitable during your Alaska itinerary.
Kenai Peninsula Lodging
You might want to consider lodging around the whole Kenai Peninsula as well, which might let you explore the area beyond the Kenai Fjords National Park. The peninsula is home to several small towns where you can find motels, hotels, lodges, inns, cabins, and more. Check the accommodation map below for a sense of what is available and at which price range.
Kenai Travel Tips
- Weather can change fast in Alaska. Come prepared with layers and a good waterproof jacket.
- Wildlife is wild! Do not approach animals as they are potentially dangerous.
- When visiting more than one national park, check the National Park pass
- If you are planning on hiking or glacier hiking, make sure you have the proper hiking equipment and have the fitness and outdoor experience to enjoy the activities safely.
- Do not feed animals, and please, please watch for bear safety measures. Leave no trace, and leave the animals wild.
- Get a copy of the Lonely Planet Alaska Travel Guide and an Alaska National Geographic Adventure Map to prepare your road trip.
- Most Kenai travel will start in Anchorage. Spend some time there to organize your itinerary.
We hoped you find this Kenai Peninsula Travel Guide useful. Have you been to Kenai Peninsula? What did you think about the area? Please leave a comment – we would love to hear from you!
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