The surprising turquoise color of many of The Kenai’s rivers and lakes is very unusual and is caused by just the right blending of glacial waters and snowmelt. Home to spawning salmon, these rivers and lakes can be explored by rafting, fishing from drift or powerboats, or finding beautiful trails along the shores. Some of Alaska’s wildest whitewater, as well as some of its most placid and scenic waterways, can be found on The Kenai. The quaint settlements of Moose Pass and Cooper Landing, along with the larger communities of Sterling, Soldotna, and Kenai, owe a substantial portion of their livelihoods to the bounty of fish, scenery, and wildlife that the Kenai watershed provides.
There aren’t many cities in the world where virtually everybody has a view lot, but that’s just a way of life in Homer. Venture out on the Homer Spit, a narrow arm of land that extends out into the ocean, you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking views of mountains, glaciers and Kachemak Bay. For a reasonable fee, water taxis take you across the Bay to the hiking trails of the lush forests, mountains, and glaciers of Kachemak Bay State Park. If you enjoy wandering among tide pools, this area provides a unique glimpse into the lives of the creatures of the tidal zone. The Cook Inlet encounters the 2nd most extreme tidal activity in the world and reveals numerous and diverse shellfish for your harvesting and tasting.
There aren’t many places in the world where you can gaze upon four active volcanoes from one stretch of beautiful highway. From north to south, Mt. Spurr, Mt. Redoubt, Mt. Illiamna and St. Augustine all may be viewed from the western shore of the Kenai Peninsula, out across Cook Inlet to the Alaska Peninsula. The volcano coast isn’t the only scenic drive on the Peninsula…one would have a hard time choosing a favorite stretch of road—there are dramatic vistas and spectacular scenery from one community to the next.
Mountains connect The Kenai to the rest of Alaska, and mountains link the regions of The Kenai together. They form the setting, the backdrop, or the stunning scenery on the horizon. They span The Kenai’s four major protected areas: Chugach National Forest, Kenai Fjords National Park, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and Kachemak Bay State Park. These mountains hold a contiguous ice field that is larger than the state of Rhode Island, is a half-mile deep, and is reachable by an adventuresome trail or two. They are the most accessible mountains in the state; with more than 433 miles of improved trails to help you find your own private mountain paradise for your day hike, backpacking trip, or leisurely walk.
Over the eons, glacier ice has carved valleys that are now submerged under seawater, thus forming the fjords. Kenai Fjords National Park preserves this magical part of the Peninsula, and a diverse fleet of small ships delivers the experience. The Kenai Fjords offers more than majestic scenery—few places in the world can boast of the stunning concentrations of wildlife viewed on a daily basis in the Kenai Fjords and the adjoining islands of the Maritime National Wildlife Refuge: sea otters, puffins, sea lions, kittiwakes, humpback and orca whales, harbor seals, oyster catchers and more. Glaciers are still making their way down from the ice fields, and witnessing the calving of huge chunks of ice from the glacier’s face as it meets the sea reminds us that the Kenai Fjords are still under construction.
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