Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking in Seward, Alaska

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We were recently contacted by Danny Meunick with Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking out of Seward, Alaska. He wanted to share some of the amazing experiences and pictures that he, along with his fellow colleagues, collected from a great 2014 summer season spent with visitors from all over the world. Below we will recap the blog post he shared with us titled, “The Beauty and Brutality of Alaskan Weather” along with a collection of awe-inspiring images. If you are currently in the process (or will be soon) of planning your 2015 vacation to The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground, we highly recommend spending some time in Seward, Alaska with Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking. And trust us, once you see these photos… it will be nearly impossible for you to leave this adventure off of your bucket list. ;-)

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Blue skies and calm seas one minute and monsoon like conditions the next. Such is what to expect in the Gulf of Alaska where the wind blowing north has nothing to inhibit it in some areas literally all the way down to Antarctica. While summer marine conditions typically calm themselves to make for a fantastic paddling season, we occasionally are reminded of the awesome power mother nature has in store for us from time to time. The following photos were taken from an early June Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking five day kayak camping expedition that was extended an extra day due to one such storm. For four days, nothing but beautiful blue skies and pond like water made this one of the best experiences of my guiding career. And when our fifth and final day came, so did the weather! Fortunately for us, our location inside Northwestern Fjord in Kenai Fjords National Park provided mountain protection on all sides so all we felt was a little rain. But being a four hour boat ride in open ocean from Seward, our ride home could not quite make the trip to pick us up with 30+ knot winds and over 12-13 foot waves. But no worries friends; the weather died down the following day and we made our way home safely. Equipped with spare food and plenty of shelter and water, our crew got to sit back and enjoy an extra day in a beautiful place baring witness to both the beauty and brutality of wild Alaskan weather. And it sure was a treat to behold.

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To begin: Paddle Safety Talk Before Embarking on the First Day of Kayaking.

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Next up, the group enjoying an incredible wildlife viewing of a curious group of Stellar Sea Lions.

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And as if that wasn’t enough, when they looked up into the trees… they enjoyed a “double whammy” wildlife viewing treat; Sea Lions AND a beautiful Bald Eagle.

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Next stop was a great view of a Tidewater Glacier.

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Next the excited group finds themselves making their way through the Northwestern Fjord.

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Followed by an “up close and personal” encounter with the Northwestern Glacier.

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Pictured here are some bergy bits floating through the Fjord.

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And the mecca of all photos… the Northwestern Glacier in all her majestic beauty. With a “double your pleasure” reflection in the water, to boot!

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And last but not least, no trip with Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking would be complete without a once-in-a-lifetime viewing of a Harbor Seal cooling off on some ice while working on his tan. ;-)

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Guest Post; Hike to the Hand Tram at Winner Creek

Encase you missed our post earlier this month entitled “Fall Hiking from Alyeska Resort,” you can view it HERE! And as you can now see, this guest post from Emily Style was the perfect follow-up post as it includes an in-depth, picturesque action story from one of the trails we featured; Winner Creek. So read on below to experience a little bit more about what you will see when hiking Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood, Alaska.

Image Courtesy of National Geographic

Image Courtesy of National Geographic

Our penultimate post from Alaska! After visiting Hope, we drove the RV up to Girdwood to get ready to head home. Behind the Alyeska Resort (more on that tomorrow!) there’s a trail head for Winner Creek, part of the Chugach National Forest.

This six mile roundtrip hike takes you through the northernmost rain forest in the world. I had been looking for Shy Maiden wildflowers and finally saw them here.

Rolling hills, few mosquitos – lovely hike made all the more exciting because it’s part of the Iditarod route and promises a mysterious-sounding “hand tram” ahead.

Past halfway, you cross a bridge over a rushing gorge with teal water.

You’ve made it to the hand tram in no time at all! This contraption involves a metal basket, rope, pulleys and a steep canyon below. I suppose it is designed so you can pull yourself across in the basket, but it is much easier with someone pulling you from the platform. A unique experience!

At the end of the trail, you reach the Cold Creek Gold Mine.

This property is a functioning gold mine for tourists ($20), a historical site ($10) and a wedding venue. It was getting late, so we didn’t go in. You can also walk to Girdwood town from this side of the creek for a 9-mile loop.

Our last new wildflower of the trip: Trailing Raspberry.

For more great adventure and BlogSpot action, check out EmilyStyle’s blog, HERE!

Five Simple, Seasonal Fall Favorites!

When you live on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground, it is pretty easy to say that simplicity is the greatest form of satisfaction. We have the esteemed privilege of living in one of the most beautiful places in the world. We can walk out our front door and be fully submerged in the mecca of all-things-outdoorsy. From mountains, to glaciers, to wildlife… the simple beauty that surrounds us is something that we are oh-so incredibly thankful for with every day that passes. So much so that we compiled small but plentiful list of some of our favorite little seasonal traditions. So before the snow fly’s (and sticks for the next 6 months), we highly recommend jumping on these 5 Simple, Seasonal Fall Favorites…
Photo Credit: Alaska From Scratch
1. Wake up early enough to catch the sunrise, while the frost is still lingering and the air is crisp. If you go the extra mile and drive to enjoy a killer view, we are pretty sure that you might experience *magic*… Don’t believe us? Just look below to see a sight so beautiful, you might end up loosing your breath for a brief moment!
Photo Credit: Jeff Nelson
2. Chase a reflection, without using a mirror! There is no better time of year to make time for a road trip, to nowhere. Grab your family and friends. Maybe a pumpkin spiced latte or a gingerbread donut. And just drive and enjoy the magical landscape around you. Take time to soak in all of the beautiful changing colors of the leaves. Tip: Stunning lakes such as this one in Cooper Landing, AK are known for delivering the pot-o-gold!
Photo Credit: Heidi Ho Hanson
3. Remember #2? Well, this is why. Soon, all of the leaves will fall to the ground and we will be snow-bound until May. So before they all fall off, or rather, get eaten off by those silly moose… get out and enjoy the most colorful time of year on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground! The only thing you have to loose is the opportunity for a great photo-op!
Photo Credit: Anthony Vet
4. Termination Dust! Although we love “all things Alaska’s Playground” all-year-round, we are quite partial to the enchanting beauty that is displayed when the mountains are freshly snow-capped and we are still able to enjoy (mostly) all of the fun, active, outdoor activities that we’ve grown accustomed to all summer long. Probably because it feels like we are living in a fairytale. I mean, c’mon… sights like this are simply too beautiful to put into words!
Photo Credit: Ron Niebrugge
5. This short-but-sweet list would not be complete without referencing the glorious Aurora Borealis! We are loosing just over 5 minutes of daylight with every day that passes right now. And although we are moving into the dark and chilly months, we are in a constant euphoria of star-struck magic with the beaming Northern Lights on full display! Tip: Clear days and evenings offer the best chances of seeing the lights. 10pm-2am offers peak auroral activity.
Photo Credit: Carl Johnson
And after you’ve checked all of the above off of your list… sit back, relax, and take in the beautiful views and splendors of The Kenai! A moose-do!
Photo Credit: Kathleen Barth

A Miracle Happened with Exit Glacier Guides

Ready for an amazing story filled with a dash of luck and a huge serving of the warmest Alaskan hospitality that you can think of? Check this out: Ryan Fisher with Exit Glacier Guides in Seward, Alaska found a camera on the glacier this year that had popped out of a crevasse after being in the glacier for 4 years!
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The camera was trashed but when he took the memory card out and plugged it in, ALL of the pictures were intact!
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Ryan and his team went through all of their waivers and found out who the camera belonged to and mailed it back.
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Roman Lyskowski had his entire Alaskan vacation on that memory card and thought all his pictures were lost. Turns out they were just traveling downhill in the glacier for a few years.
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A great story to be told about a small miracle that happened. But most importantly everyone is just so happy that Roman got his treasured pictures back! Great job Ryan Fisher and the Exit Glacier Guides team!

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Fall Hiking from Alyeska Resort

By now, it’s absolutely no secret that Fall season on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground is (hands down) breathtakingly beautiful. But when you add in the natural beauty that Alaska offers with Alaska’s premier year-round destination, Alyeska Resort… the possibilities for fun and excitement are endless.

Image Courtesy of Alyeska Resort Facebook Page

Image Courtesy of Alyeska Resort Facebook Page

So if you are someone who’s ever had a tough time figuring out what exactly to do when the weather is “in between seasons,” we are here for you. What does that mean exactly? “In between seasons” on Alaska’s Playground means that it is too chilly to venture outside without a few extra layers on, generally the fishing is slowing down, and it feels like it is cold enough to snow, but there is no snow on the ground as of yet so winter sports (skiing, sledding, snowboarding, etc.) are out of the question.

Image Courtesy of Alaska from Scratch

Image Courtesy of Alaska from Scratch

This “in between season” is often times referred to as Fall in Alaska. The ongoing joke is that Alaska only has two seasons; Summer and Winter. But in actuality, we do have a beautiful Fall season in Alaska. It is usually just short and sweet, with very chilly “feels like snow weather” temps that fill the days and nights. Golden light and crisp air is ever-apparent this year in the town of Girdwood, AK as you head to Alyeska Resort. Notice some of the snow-capped mountains.

Image Courtesy of Alyeska Resort Facebook Page

Image Courtesy of Alyeska Resort Facebook Page

One activity that is perfect for Fall season in Alaska is Hiking & Trekking. Why? Because although the weather is chilly, once you get your body in motion and begin to work up a little sweat, the low temp is actually something that quickly becomes very enjoyable and incredibly welcoming. Some even opt for shorts and t-shirts this time of year when hiking at Alyeska Resort simply because they know that they are bound to get in a great workout.

Image Courtesy of Alyeska Resort Blog

Image Courtesy of Alyeska Resort Blog

Fall Hiking & Trekking from Alyeska Resort is a great time for individuals and families to enjoy. Convinced? If not, continue on to read more about some incredible trails for beginners and experienced hikers alike. With all the incredible options and fascinating views, we are certain that you will be putting a trek from Alyeska Resort on your bucket list ASAP.

Winner Creek Trail: The most accessible hiking trail is Winner Creek, which begins near the base of the aerial tram. This trail offers a leisurely way through a lush rainforest environment. The first half-mile of the trail is on boardwalk surface; after that point, the trail becomes an easy dirt path with some uneven surfaces in places. Near the two-and-a-half-mile mark on this hike, there is a beautiful river gorge with a bridge and hand tram that allows you to pull yourself across the creek.

Image Courtesy of Emily Style

Image Courtesy of Emily Style

Upper Winner Creek Trail: Less developed than Winner Creek Trail. Start on Winner Creek Trail and follow signs to Upper Winner Creek. This trail contours the valley along the South side of the creek for approximately 8 miles of outstanding views and level tread.

Image by Blain Anderson

Image by Blain Anderson

Winner Creek Extension Trail: Access the trail from the hotel pond courtyard. The path will end at Verbier Way near Challenge Alaska.

Image by Blain Anderson

Image by Blain Anderson

The North Face Trail: The 2.2 mile steep, advanced trail starts right from the hotel. Featuring a mix of road and single-track with switchbacks, the North Face trail ascends the 2,000 vertical foot slope of this classic ski terrain. Hikers, who make it to the top, can take a complimentary descending ride on the aerial tram too.

Image from Alaska Hike Search

Image from Alaska Hike Search

Upper Tram Terminal Trails: Advanced trails

Image from Alaska Daily News

Image from Alaska Daily News

South Bowl Trails: Intermediate to advanced trails

Image Courtesy of EpicEric

Image Courtesy of EpicEric

Multi-Use Nordic Loop: Multi-use trail can be accessed at end of Arlberg Avenue by The Hotel Alyeska.

Image Courtesy of www.skigirdwood.com

Image Courtesy of http://www.skigirdwood.com

Girdwood to Indian Bike Path: Easy walking on a paved bike path provides a mellow out-and-back trail

Image Courtesy of http://withoutbaggage.com

Image Courtesy of http://withoutbaggage.com

Here is map provided by www.Alaska.org with some more detail of where the Girdwood to Indian Bike Path goes.

Image Courtesy of Alaska.org

Image Courtesy of Alaska.org

If you are looking to spend a day outside, enjoying all that Alaska’s Playground has to offer… we highly recommend a hike from Alyeska Resort! Keep in mind that these are just hikes from the resort. There are a TON of more options if you’d like to take a hike somewhere in Girdwood Valley area or the Portage Valley area. Click on the link to explore all that there is to offer. And of course, feel free to contact us directly by submitting a comment below if you have any questions or would like further suggestions. Get out and PLAY, and reward yourself with soaking up a view that most can only dream of seeing in their lifetime. Hurry, before the snow fly’s! #hikeAK

Image Courtesy of Ed Clapper

Image Courtesy of Ed Clapper

Get Hooked to Alaska’s Angling Addiction

Lately we’ve been experiencing an unruly amount of sunshine, clear weather, and temperatures ranging in the mid 50′s to low 60′s. For us, everyday of living life on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground has felt like utter paradise as of late.

Photo Credit: Jeff Nelson

Photo Credit: Jeff Nelson

And if you though that was the hook, line, and sinker… think again! It gets better. Yes, BETTER! In addition to nearly picture-perfect Fall weather, the fishing has been simply “off the charts!”

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That’s right; OFF THE CHARTS! What does that mean exactly? It means… incredible, beautiful, plentiful, colorful, and full of action-packed catching & releasing guided by true stewards of our amazing resources on the Kenai River; Alaska’s Angling Addition.

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To backtrack for a moment, we must clear the air about something. If we are to be completely honest, we happen to feel like Alaska’s Playground is paradise 365 days a year regardless of rain, sleet, or snow. We are incredibly partial to our backyard/playground for a zillion and one reasons. Mountains, glaciers, wildlife, hiking, kayaking, biking, flightseeing, FISHING… the obsession runs deep. And even when the weather isn’t near-perfection (like it has been lately), #TheKenai is still the best place in the whole-wide-world to live, work, and play! Again… we may be just a wee-bit partial. But really, can you blame us? ;-)

Photo Credit: Banan Tarr Photography

Photo Credit: Banan Tarr Photography

Okay see now we’re getting off track. Back to the plot. Alaska’s Angling Addiction has been captivating us all season long with their incredible fishing journey shared vicariously through the digital world.

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With over two decades of combined experience, Alaska’s Angling Addiction makes sure that your Kenai River guided fishing trip is one your will never forget. All of their guides are certified fly casting instructors and excellent teachers.

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This dedication to instruction and teaching is what sets them apart from the crowd. As Kenai River fly fishing guides they will not only take you out on the water in search of trophy fish and a great adventure, but also teach you the reasons why they are fishing the way they do each day.

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Their goal is to have each guest come away with new methods and knowledge each day that can be applied to angling adventures in other places as well. So whether you are an experienced angler or a newcomer that is comfortable with a fly rod or conventional gear… or a newcomer all together, Alaska’s Angling Addiction works their hearts out every day to show their guests that they are the premier Kenai River Fly Fishing Guide Service.

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Often times when we think about fishing on Alaska’s Playground, the experienced guides at Alaska’s Angling Addiction come to mind. Although there are a lot of incredible guide services that we can think of off the top of our heads, something about Alaska’s Angling Addition makes them stand out.

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We would be willing to bet that it probably has something to do with their frequently-updated social media pages that are filled with streams of vibrant photographs from freshly-caught action of the days’ proceedings.

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Or quite possibly it’s the amazing pictures that flood the photo-scroll on their website. Is it just us, or do these photos like this just make you want to JUMP out of your seat and wet a line? We can literally feel the fun through the photo!

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It might be the fact that they have a very “distinct” way of exuding laughter and good times at the snap of a photo… c’mon, you have to admit, this looks like SO MUCH FUN!

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Or the fact that they so graciously and so patiently cater to helping men, women, and children of all ages truly learn the art and the many different techniques of fly fishing.

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Or, okay… it might have a “thing or two” to do with the fact that they feature an (incredibly cute) Labrador retriever in many of their photographs. Yeah, this happens to melt our hearts quite a bit! Aww, puppy love!

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No trip on the water is complete without a loyal companion by your side. We can’t get enough of this yellow lab cuteness. Oh yes, the trout is beautiful as well! ;-)

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At the end of the day, we would be lying to you if we didn’t admit that a LOT of the reason that we are very drawn to Alaska’s Angling Addiction is because we see MONSTERS come across our Facebook newsfeed (like this one below) that make us nearly GASP to catch a breath of air. We want to be there, with them, catching her rainbow trout! RIGHT. NOW.

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There are a whole bucket-full of reasons why we highly recommend a trip on the water with Alaska’s Angling Addiction. But after seeing all of these incredible photos, we are pretty sure that you can see the writing on the wall. Can’t get enough? Check out more stunning photos of their uber-successful adventures, HERE!

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It’s a no-brainer! If you’re looking for an amazing time on-the-fly, you would be silly not to look up these incredibly talented, gracious, and humble guides. When it comes to “tying one on” on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground, Alaska’s Angling Addiction truly does raise the bar. Visit them online at http://www.alaskasanglingaddiction.com or check out their Facebook page HERE!

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Congratulations to the RAM 1500 Stay & Play Raffle Winners!

For the last 8 months, the RAM 1500 from Stanley Chrysler (decked out in a jaw-dropping vehicle wrap with incredible wildlife images) has been driving around The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground from Seward, to Kenai, to Soldotna, to Homer, and just about everywhere in between.

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Why, you ask? Because The Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council created a cohesive brand campaign/raffle to create energy and excitement for all of the communities on Alaska’s Playground, AND to raise money to help further promote all of the glory of the Kenai Peninsula on a worldwide level. Mountains, glaciers, wildlife… oh my!

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And what better way to create awareness  for The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground than to give away a super-sweet RAM 1500 Truck, a Kayak with a Thule Rack, and a “Stay and Play” lodging and adventure package in Kenai, Soldotna, Seward, and Homer!

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None of this would have been possible with out the most incredible sponsors and partners! Talk about a community coming together for the good of community! We know, we are SO lucky and SO grateful to live among such incredible neighbors.

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To start off, a BIG “thank you” to Stanley Chrysler for donating a VEHICLE! This, was a HUGE deal for us. And we are simply beyond-grateful.

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And to Sportsman’s Warehouse of Soldotna for donating a new 14″ Kayak equipt with a Thule Rack! A personal shout-out to Store Manager, Eric Dahlman, for his undying enthusiasm and for being the living embodiment of the Alaska’s Playground brand. A big thank you to the whole Sportsman’s Warehouse team for their conceited efforts in selling raffle tickets all summer!

Homer Chamber of Commerce, thank you to the whole team!

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Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center, big thank you to you all!

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Seward Chamber of Commerce, thank you to the whole team!

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And last but certainly not least… Soldotna Chamber of Commerce! Thank you to the whole team! And CONGRATS on selling the most tickets, AND to Michelle Glaves, Executive Director, for selling the winning ticket! Woo Hoo!

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1st Place Winner - Mike Erstrom: RAM 1500
Mike Erstrom won the Ram 1500 sponsored by Stanley Chrysler 

2nd Place Winner – Jo E. Earls: Sea Kayak & Rack
Jo E. Earls won the Sea Kayak and Thule Rack sponsored by Sportsman’s Warehouse 
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3rd Place Winner – Roberta Quintarell: Stay & Play Package in Seward, AK
Roberta Quintarell won the Kenai Fjords Tour for Two with Kenai Fjords Tours and Two Nights Stay at the Seward Windsong Lodge

4th Place Winner – Lisa Beranek: Stay & Play Package in Soldotna, AK
Lisa Beranek won the Kenai River Fishing Trip for Two and Two Nights Stay at Big Sky Charter and Fishcamp

5th Place Winner – Rod Peterkin: Stay & Play Package in Kenai, AK
Rod Peterkin won the Flightseeing for Two with Alaska West Air and Two Nights Stay at Aspen Hotel


6th Place Winner – Rick Abbot: Stay & Play Package in Homer, AK
Rick Abbot won the Halibut Fishing for Two with Homer Ocean Charters and Two Nights Stay at Land’s End Resort 


7th Place Winner – Linda Swarner: Auto Detailing For a Year
Linda Swarner won the Auto Detailing for a Year sponsored by Stanley Chrysler 

8th Place Winner – Douglas Sherwood: Oil Changes for a Year
Douglas Sherwood won the Oil Changes for a Year sponsored by Stanley Chrysler 

Alaska Experiences at Denise Lake Lodge!

And we can’t forget about the moose! It is not an uncommon occurrence to see these visitors on the property, stopping to enjoy a bite to eat and an occasional swim in Denise Lake.

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Have you ever seen a loon? On occasion, you can actually spot them in front of the lodge on Denise Lake. This just happened to be one of those magic moments where a mother was captured with her two little ones riding on her back enjoying a nice afternoon float. Bird watching is truly incredible at Denise Lake Lodge!

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If you are looking for Alaska Experiences and you are starting to plan ahead to next year, we highly recommend that you enjoy a stay and play package with Denise Lake Lodge. If superior customer service, warm hospitality, and unforgettable memories sound like what you are looking for, look no further!

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22 Days Left of Summer on The Kenai; Make Every Day Count!

From land to sea, enjoy wildlife viewing to the fullest before the snow fly’s and the bears migrate!

Enjoy caribou viewing on land… these two were caught navigating through the trees in Kenai, Alaska.

Or whale watching by sea… this shot was taken just outside of Seward, Alaska.
 
Or even some eagle viewing by air… this beautiful shot was taken in Homer, Alaska.
Trout Fishing on the Kenai River is HOT! And we have lots of great recommendations for top-notch guide services!
Silver Fishing on the Kasilof River is continuing to produce monsters! Fill your freezer with one of the greatest guides around!
Enjoy a hike near one of the many glaciers on Alaska’s Playground. This beautiful shot was taken in Seward, Alaska.
Get out and play! Enjoy a Kayaking Adventure in Seward, Homer, or anywhere in between…
Venture into the woods with a Ziplining Excursion in Seward, Alaska!
Get your friends & family together and GO TO THE RACES! Kenai, Alaska knows how to have a good time and deliver for the whole family…
No matter what your preference, we are sure that The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground has an activity that will deliver pure enjoyment for you during the final days of Summer 2014. For more information on all of the recommendations above, give us a call at (800) 535-3624 or feel free to respond to this post with a comment below. Wishing you happy trails, happy travels, and endless smiles on Alaska’s Playground!
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Fisherman’s Heaven: Salmon Catcher Lodge

This week, we are so excited to share a re-blog from Kristi Trimmer of Dragonfly Running. She is a Full-Time Traveler and recently spent some time on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground and shared her experiences from a stay at Salmon Catcher Lodge and B&B. We have personally visited this beautiful lodge and B&B and know first hand how amazing every little detail of this facility (and the hospitality) is. So it is truly our pleasure to share this enthusiastic blog with our fellow readers. Bonus: they are even open in the WINTER! So whether you make it a “bucket list” item to pay Salmon Catcher Lodge and B&B a visit next summer, or you want to go for a “Winter Wonderland” getaway… we are sure that it will be worth your time no matter what season it is.

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For my 40th birthday, I was surprised by my friend Scott Kelly with Black Dog Promotions with a week stay at Salmon Catcher Lodge in Kenai, Alaska. I promptly pulled up Google Maps to find out where Kenai was. I knew I was headed to Seward, and was excited to see that it was just two hours away. I had heard that you had to take boats everywhere in Alaska and I wondered if there was a road between Seward and Kenai. Yes, my friends, just a few short months ago I too, had NO idea how to navigate Alaska! BTW… there is indeed a road!

Salmon Catcher Lodge - Sign

After spending my first week in Alaska hanging with my friends at Exit Glacier Guides, I made the drive over to the Soldotna-Kenai area. This drive is beautiful! Ice blue lakes and huge rivers could be seen from the road. I didn’t realize I was looking at the famous Russian and Kenai Rivers were salmon fishing runs the world up here. People come from all over the world during the summer to fish for salmon in Kenai.

It was late in the day when I pulled up to Salmon Catcher Lodge and I was taken away by the sheer beauty and size of the property. There were 2- and 3-story cabins nestled among big beautiful evergreen trees and flowers peeking out everywhere. The main lodge was called the Conference Center. I loved how the Bear Family welcomed me right in!

Salmon Catcher Lodge - Welcome

 

The inside looked like no expense was spared in making this one amazing haven. The kitchen was massive and served breakfasts every morning for the guests. There was a bar area with all sorts of glasses and goblets just ready for some good craft beer to be poured after a day of fishing. What I loved the most though was the massage chair – I knew I would spend a lot of time in that! There were three large rooms with each having 2-4 beds and a private bath. Somehow I ended up being the only one there that week since it was before the season really took off!

Salmon Catcher Lodge - Inside

One morning while I was working away on the kitchen table, I saw this big ol moose wander right on by. You know that made me happy! Salmon Catcher Lodge is truly a Fisherman’s Heaven. Their cabins are built to be able to hold the whole fishing party and then some. Each cabin has a full kitchen, living room, and a ton of space. But what makes this lodge stand out for me was that their was a separate building where you could process your fish and then store it until you went home. Anything that you could possibly need for your fishing trip, Salmon Catcher has you covered. They can even help you plan your trip and get you out on the river with an experienced guide.

I might be staying in Alaska just so I am here for the first day of next salmon season!! I had no idea when I first landed in Alaska what a big deal this was. Now all I want to do is to go fish and I missed it! Sigh. Not next year, my friends! Not next year. :)

Salmon Catcher Lodge - 3 story

 

The owner of the Lodge, Terry Johnson, is a retired airline pilot who decided to make Alaska his home. He not only built Salmon Catcher Lodge but also Salmon Catcher B&B. The attention to detail in both properties simply amazed me! The B&B is what I would pick for a romantic getaway to Kenai-Soldotna. One of the rooms has this large sunken Jacuzzi-tub that I just wanted to soak in. Of course, I noticed the beautiful kitchen which was set out with snacks and drinks.

Salmon Catcher B&B Collage

The decorations within both properties were custom pieces with some amazing stained art and metal pieces plus some very beautiful paintings. I loved it there! I can’t wait to go back and spend some time relaxing in this cozy B&B.

Salmon Catcher Lodge - Eagle & Moose

The view out to the Kenai River from the deck is second to none. Take the little pathway out to the banks and fish to your heart’s content. Or sit and read a book – both make me happy.

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Thank you Terry for welcoming into your Lodge. It was one of the highlights of my summer in Alaska!! I can’t say enough good things about the Lodge and is the number one place I recommend to stay at when coming up to theKenai Peninsula in Alaska. Yep, I thought it was that awesome!

PS… just outside the entrance to the Lodge is where I saw my first Moose and baby!!

6-10-14 Moose and Baby

Disclosure from Kristi Trimmer: My stay at Salmon Catcher Lodge was a birthday present to me. I was not under any obligation to write a review nor to fall in love with the property like I did. That just happened. And yes, I really hope I get to go back and spend more time out at the Lodge just steps away from peace and quiet and all those cute mooses! Links within this post may contain affiliate links that I earn commissions from. Example, if you click on the above link and purchase anything from that site I make a small commission, no matter what you purchase. This is how I pay for my travels and this blog. Thank you for supporting me!

Orca Island Cabins; One of the Best in the West

Congratulations to Orca Island Cabins, located in Ressurection Bay outside of Seward, Alaska, for being named one of Sunset Magazine‘s Top 30 Island Escapes!

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Orca Island Cabins is also featured in The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground destination video, which you can view here; www.kenaipeninsula.org! We also recently featured this special “congratulations” coverage of this well deserved recognition in our latest eNewsletter, which you can read (and sign up for) HERE. 

Orca Island Cabins offers Alaska visitors  unique yurt accommodations on a private island in scenic Humpy Cove in  Resurrection Bay, AK located 9 miles southeast of Seward, Alaska, just a short drive south of Anchorage.

Owned and operated by long-time Alaskans Dennis and Susan Swiderski, Orca Island Cabins invites you to enjoy comfortable and stylish overnight accommodations in comfortable yurt cabins with Alaska wildlife and marine life right outside your cabin door.

Enjoy the best that Alaska’s Playground has to offer while staying at Orca Island Cabins. Such as whale watching…

Kayaking…

Fishing and hiking…

Paddle boarding…

Or just sit back, relax and observe scenic views and wildlife from your private deck – a very special Alaska experience.

Photo Credits: Orca Island Cabins Facebook Page

Silver Salmon Fishing & Bear Viewing with High Adventure Air Charter

BEARS, BEARS, BEARS – Up Close and Personal! Fly out bear viewing and fishing. Experience glaciers, mountains and unbelievable vistas. A must-do when visiting The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground that will be sure to bring you memories that last a lifetime!

Photo Courtesy of High Adventure Air Charter, Guides & Outfitters Facebook Page

Photo Courtesy of High Adventure Air Charter, Guides & Outfitters Facebook Page

We had the pleasure of going out with High Adventure Air Charters this past Saturday, and boy were we in for a treat! We arrived to a beautiful log-home style facility tucked into beautiful thick tall green trees.  

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We set out to catch Silver Salmon and hopefully do some bear viewing as well! Silver Salmon (Coho Salmon) adults usually weigh 8 to 12 pounds and are 24 to 30 inches long, but individuals weighing 31 pounds have been landed. Adults in salt water or newly returning to fresh water are bright silver with small black spots on the back and on the upper lobe of the tail fin. They can be distinguished from Chinook salmon by the lack of black spots on the lower lobe of the tail and by their white gums; Chinook have small black spots on both tail fin lobes and they have black gums. Spawning adults of both sexes have dark backs and heads with maroon to reddish sides, according to ADFG.

Photo Courtesy of High Adventure Air Charter Facebook Page

Photo Courtesy of High Adventure Air Charter Facebook Page

As we walked up to the counter to check-in for our fly-out Bear Viewing & Silver Salmon Fishing trip, we were pleasantly surprised to see all the beautiful, lush flower baskets lining the way to the registration area. All the colors were so vivid and smelt divine!

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And of course, this very practical outdoor thermometer was also a wonderfully clever touch. We can always rely on Alaskans to bring the humor, that is for sure!

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As we walked in the lobby, we were impressed by a very welcoming atmosphere and some really neat adornments that were perfectly fitting for the occasion. This “Fish Stories Told Here” paddle was just one of the [many] cool knick·knacks displayed.

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Another couple that caught our eyes were these two… “Tight Lines” and a saw with an incredible wildlife display cutout in the metal. Alaskan ambiance at it’s finest!

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The coffee/water/tea bar was also very accommodating and a great touch. We made sure to indulge a bit. Always important to say hydrated before a day of fish slaying!

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And when we say that we indulged, that didn’t mean on all of the delicious baked goodies that they ALSO had offered in the lobby. Oh, wait! Maybe we did succumb to these tasty treats just a bit… too yummy to resist! Can you blame us? ;-)

baked goods

As if we weren’t already off to a very full-filling start, our eyes were glistening with excitement when we perused this (very successful) “Catch of the Week” bulletin picture display.

catch of the day

Another really neat feature that the lobby had was this aerial map that with little flags that shows all of the lakes and rivers that High Adventure Air Charter fly’s out to.

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Some of the closest and most frequently visited spots are Wolverine Creek, Big River Lake, Lake Clark Pass, Duck Cabin, Nushagak, Parkers Lake, and the Kustatan River. If you can’t quite read it, the purple flag indicates our “take off” point at High Adventure Air Charter.

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For our trip, we were flying out to the Kustatan River to go fishing for Silver Salmon and to do some bear viewing at the foot of Wolverine Creek. It looks so close on the map, like maybe just a hop, skip, and jump over the Cook Inlet.

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We were told that it would just be a quick 30 minute flight via float plane. And as we walked down to the lake to enjoy the last few minutes before our plane arrived, we were continuing to take in all the neat little features that were displayed on the property. Like this sign… so many choices, so little time! Oh wait, we live here! #spoiled ;-)

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More beautiful flowers and possibly the greenest grass and nicest landscaping around as we head down to wait for our plane. A top-notch experience right out of the gate!

view looking lake with sign

When our plane finally arrived, our excitement gained stronger and stronger as the pilot unloaded 4 energetic, smiling guests that just came back from the very same trip that we were about to go on. Lots of smiles from ear to ear, we knew we were going to be in for a good time!

plane before takeoff

There was another group of people that were preparing to take off at the same time that we were. Double the trouble, double the fun! “WE ARE READY!” :-)

other plane before takeoff

Enjoying one last lake view before loading up and hitting the sky! For a mildly overcast day, the weather was in the low 60′s and felt absolutely perfect!

view before takeoff

We loaded up in the DeHavilland Beaver floatplane and got ready to enjoy a scenic flight to the western shores of Cook Inlet. This was our super-awesome pilot, Greg. He did great and we felt very safe and comfortable the entire trip across the inlet.

super awesome pilot

Ready, set, go! There were four of us total in the plane, plus the pilot. The plane seats 6 total passengers plus luggage. It was very comfortable and we didn’t feel like sardines at all!

in the plane

And here we are, up high in the sky with a beautiful view as we are leaving across the Cook Inlet!

leaving the cook inlet

Once we crossed over approaching near the Tustatan River, our eyes were in amazement as we looked down at such raw, natural beauty that was just flourishing with vivid colors.

green across bay

As we landed, we were graciously greeted by our guide, Ben. He was incredibly accommodating and we could tell that he knew what he was doing right from the get-go. Again, we just knew that we were in for a good time!

fish on

After we loaded up on the boat, we watched as our floatplane took off and left us in the good hands of our guide right SMACK out in the middle of Alaska’s Playground! Amazing! :-)

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Up, up, & away! We will see him back here in about 5 hours! Hopefully by then, we will have limited out and seen lots of bears! ;-)

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Within a half hour, all four of us on the boat had caught at least 1 fish! The silvers were biting and dancing around like crazy, it was GREAT!

fish on the line BEST SHOT

FISH ON, time to grab the net and reel her in! Teamwork was the key to success, that is for sure!

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Scoop her up, and pull her in! Steady… steady… scoop!

net in the water

There we go, another one to the boat! Woo hoo! Bring it on, slippery silvers!

fish up in net

As we were enjoying lots of laughs and good times slaying salmon, we were surprised by the next special feature; BEAR VIEWING!

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Of the (nearly 100) shots that we took of just the bears, we gathered a few of our favorites to show you.

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This one got busy eating delicious early spawning sockeye salmon. Happy, healthy bear getting his daily does Omega 3′s with wild Alaska salmon!

bear eating salmon

And this little black bear just looked like he was ready to get out of dodge! Up the trail he went. “Too much paparazzi,” he thought. ;-)

bear playing in the bushes

After the show was over, our guide took us to a floating island and proceeded to filet all of our fish. Oh, I forgot to mention… we ALL limited out and caught 3 silver salmon a piece. That is 15 total salmon on the boat.

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And Step #2:

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Step #3:

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Step #4… fillets for days! Ben did a great job and whipped right through all 15 salmon in a matter of minutes. It was truly a pleasure to watch. He was a pro!

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About the time Ben was done filleting our fish, the plane came flying back to pick us up.

our plane back to get us BLUE

We pulled up to the plane in the guide boat, loaded up all of the delicious silver fillets and our belongings, and we all got in. With HUGE smiles on all of our faces, I should add! Our smiles were non-stop and gleaming from ear to ear!

our plane back to get us UP CLOSE

The ride back offered amazing views, just like the ride out. It was like dessert for our eyes. So many beautiful colors and amazing views that seem to go on, and on, and on!

flight back 2 green

And although we endured a light rain for the majority of our time on the boat, we wouldn’t have changed a thing! If anything, the rain added to the experience and gave us all a good reason to keep casting, and casting, and casting (to keep our bodies moving and stay warm). It was spectacular from start to finish (and everywhere in between)!

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If you are interested in having an experience of a lifetime, we highly recommend this amazing trip (or any of the others that they offer) with High Adventure Air Charter!

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See Sea Otters at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward!

How’s that for a tongue twister? ;-) We are so excited to “re-blog” about a wonderful Press Release that went into circulation last week from the Alaska SeaLife Center.

Alaska SeaLife Center

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Alaska SeaLife Center, please let us explain. This is Alaska’s only public aquarium and ocean wildlife rescue center is celebrating ten years on the shores of Resurrection Bay. Visitors to this “window on the sea” have close encounters with puffins, octopus, sea lions and other sealife while peeking over the shoulders of ocean scientists studying Alaska’s rich seas and diverse sealife.

Alaska SeaLife Center

They are a private, non-profit corporation with approximately 105 full-time employees and dedicated staff of volunteers and interns. And their mission? “The Alaska SeaLife Center generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems.”

Alaska SeaLife Center

Now, onto the super-cute and totally incredible creatures; the Sea Otters! As of July 17, 2014 the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) if currently caring for three young adult sea otters rescued through its Wildlife Response Program.

Sea Otters

All three otters were rescued from Homer, Alaska on separate dates: MoJoe in June 2012, Agnes in April 2013, and Aurora in September 2013. All were originally stranded at less than three months old. At that age, pups require constant care from their mothers. Due to the intensive maternal care required, pups under six months of age are deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Sea Otters

The otters will spend the entire summer in Seward while they await a more permanent placement at an approved facility in Europe. This is the first time the Alaska SeaLife Center has been home to this many young adult sea otters at one time. Housing three otters involves a substantial amount of time and care. Because otters eat approximately 25 percent of their body weight daily, feeding these animals is costly. Each otter consumed more than $800 worth of clam, squid, capelin, and shrimp every month.

Sea Otters

MoJoe, Aurora, and Agnes are providing ASLC with a special opportunity to teach visitors about the life history and behavior of sea otters. Visitors to the Center can view the otters in an outside pool from the research overlook or get a closer look during a Sea Otter Behind-the-Scenes (BTS) Tour.

Sea Otters

The otter BTS tour augments the regular BTS tour by including an in-depth discussion of the otters’ rescue and rehabilitation process, as well as their individual habits and characteristics. The tour takes guests to an outside training session where they will spend 15 minutes getting paw-to-paw with these curious creatures. The otters often introduce themselves by making their way right up to the glass to inspect their new visitors. During the training session, ASLC husbandry staff chat about the challenges that go along with caring for such playful and inquisitive animals. The session wraps up with an enrichment activity designed to show off the sea otter’s quick mind and problem-solving skills.

Sea Otters

The Sea Otter Behind-the-Scenes Tour is offered daily at 4:30pm to guests ages 12 and older. Prices for the hour-long tour are $25 for adults and $20 for students (12-17). This tour will only be offered through the end of Summer 2014. So go see the extreme sea otter trio while you can! We promise you will not be disappointed! ;-)

Alaska SeaLife Center

Tie One On, Alaska’s Playground Style!

Photo Courtesy of Ron Niebrugge with Niebrugge Images

Photo Courtesy of Ron Niebrugge with Niebrugge Images

The Kenai River provides phenomenal access to unparalleled salmon fishing and each year millions of salmon make their long journey up the waters of the Kenai River to reach their spawning grounds. The Kenai River late-run sockeye salmon sonar project is located approximately 19 miles upstream from the mouth of the Kenai River. The estimated travel time for sockeye salmon to reach this site once they have entered the Kenai River can be quite variable, ranging from approximately 24 hours to 72 hours.

Photo Courtesy of Kenai River Trout Anglers

Photo Courtesy of Kenai River Trout Anglers

The Kenai River experiences two runs of Sockeye Salmon, or “Reds.” Peak fishing on the Upper River is historically from June 11th until July 1st. The second run, which is typically the larger of the two, is from July 15th through August 10th.

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These impressive fish average around eight pounds. Hooking in to one of these giants is sure to keep your heart pumping and your adrenaline levels high. But once the blood, sweat, and tears is conquered, the gratification and feeling of accomplishment for your FISH ON is simply unparalleled. When fishing on the Kenai River, is is not uncommon at all to see Sockeye Salmon that have sea-lice (a parasite that drops off after 24 hours of being in fresh water) approximately 50 miles upriver. They are fast swimmers that are filled with stamina & endurance & tend to provide the wildest fight of all salmon.

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Legacy Fishing Lodge

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Legacy Fishing Lodge

The number of sockeye entering the river has remained relatively stable and fishing is fair, according to Fish and Game fishing reports. The red salmon have yet to enter the Kenai River en masse, though the thriving personal-use dipnet fishery has seen fair success at the mouth of the Kenai River as the run continues to progress.

Photo Courtesy of Beluga Lookout Lodge & RV Park

Photo Courtesy of Beluga Lookout Lodge & RV Park

In the last week alone just over 20, 538 Sockeye Salmon have pushed up into the river, making the cumulative YTD count approximately 343,470 according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Fish Count Data Search. Beginning in 2011, ADF&G began counting escapement at Kenai River mile 19 using DIDSON rather than the old Bendix sonar. Due to the change in sonar technology, the sustainable escapement goal for Kenai River late-run sockeye salmon was changed to 700,000 – 1,200,000 fish counted using DIDSON sonar.

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Fishing with Mark Glassmaker, Inc.

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Fishing with Mark Glassmaker, Inc.

The bag limit on the Kasilof has been increased to 6 per day and 12 in possession while the personal use dipnet fishery on that river has seen its area expanded from the mouth upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge as Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers work to control the escapement of red salmon up the river.

Photo Courtesy of Afishunt Charters Inc.

Photo Courtesy of Afishunt Charters Inc.

On the Russian River, sockeye salmon fishing my improve over the next few days as late-run reds migrate through the Kenai River, according to Fish and Game’s fishing report.

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In the Lower Cook Inlet, sockeye have been returning to the Tutka Bay Lagoon alongside pink salmon returns.

Photo Courtesy of Tutka Bay Lodge

Photo Courtesy of Tutka Bay Lodge

Many avid fisherman (and women) also keep the Salmon Roe to later cure and use as bait when fishing for other species. Talk about total utilization of your catch! The Kenai River offers an abundance of subsistence living practices.

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Once you catch your very own limit of Sockeye Salmon, you can fillet your meat and used it to make many delicious meals. You can slow smoke it for a tasty “grab and go” treat or to use it in a variety of recipes! For directions on how to smoke your own wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon this season, click HERE!

Photo Courtesy of Beaver Creek Cabins

Photo Courtesy of Beaver Creek Cabins

Another great option is canning your delicious Sockeye Salmon fillets. We love to use canned salmon in pastas, chowders, and patties. But there are a tons of different things that you can do with delicious, sustainable canned Sockeye Salmon. For instructions on how to can your salmon this season, click HERE!

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Grilling your wild Alaska Salmon or cooking it on cedar planks, are another couple of healthy options with favorite that is jam-packed with heart healthy benefits and loads of yummy Omega 3 fatty acids. For more information on the health benefits of eating Wild, Natural, Sustainable Alaska seafood, click HERE! The possibilities in the kitchen (or on the grill) are endless, but one thing is for sure… the eatin’ is very, very good! For more delicious recipes, click HERE!

Photo Courtesy of Foodness Gracious

Photo Courtesy of Foodness Gracious

At the end of the day, one thing is for certain; it’s hard to say “no” to spending a day submerged in this beautiful landscape that we are ever-so fortunate to call our backyard! Until next time, get out and enjoy The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground!

Photo Courtesy of Alaska From Scratch

Photo Courtesy of Alaska From Scratch

 

Mountain Biking Mayhem!

If you are an outdoor enthusiast with a need for speed, Mountain Biking might just be the perfect sport for you to enjoy on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground! Whether you are new to the sport and considering a new hobby or you are a seasoned pro that carves down mountains and gets air at any foreseen opportunity, the Kenai Peninsula is (hands down) the place for you to be. Throughout this post, we will give you just a tiny appetizer into the feast of trails that are excellent for all of your future mountain biking excursions on Alaska’s Playground!

Photo Courtesy of MTB Project

Photo Courtesy of MTB Project

Devil’s Creek Trail 

It is named Devil’s Creek, but the sights that you can experience along the way are absolutely angelic. A 10 mile trail from mile 39 Seward Highway to Resurrection Pass Trail. The first 3 miles have gentle up and down grades through spruce/ birch and hemlock forests with occasional open meadows. The trail then climbs steadily but gradually up narrow Devils Creek valley high above the creek for the next 5 miles through areas of brush and open meadows. The trail levels off entering the alpine valley of Devils Pass. Snow can persist at higher elevations until mid June.

Photo Courtesy of MTB Project

Photo Courtesy of MTB Project

And the flora is absolutely stunning along this devilish trek! Thank you to MTB Project for the excellent photos!

Photo Courtesy of MTB Project

Photo Courtesy of MTB Project

Crescent Creek Trail 

This 6.2 mile trail climbs gradually up the narrow valley of Crescent Creek through spruce/birch forest to Crescent Lake. Frequent openings afford views of nearby mountains. Snow can remain on the upper part of the trail until early June.

Photo Courtesy of Life in Alaska

Photo Courtesy of Life in Alaska

To get to this beautiful trail, follow these simple directions: At Mile 45 Sterling Highway turn south onto Quartz Creek Road. Drive past Quartz Creek and Crescent Creek campgrounds to trailhead (Mile 3.5 Quartz Creek Road). Last mile of road before trailhead is not plowed in winter.

Photo Courtesy of Life in Alaska

Photo Courtesy of Life in Alaska

There are some restrictions here to keep in consideration. The trail is closed to motorized vehicles May 1- November 30. Closed to pack/saddle stock April 1- June 30. Not recommended for snowmobiles due to narrow sidehills. Winter travel not recommended past mile 3 due to avalanche hazards.

Photo Courtesy of Life in Alaska

Photo Courtesy of Life in Alaska

Johnson Pass Trail 

23 mile multi-use trail from mile 64 Seward Highway in the north to mile 32.5 Seward Highway in the south. Trail is mostly forested for the first 4 miles on the north end and first 10 miles on the south end. The higher middle section is mostly open subalpine terrain of meadows and brushy areas with views of nearby mountains.

Photo Courtesy of Seward Bike Tours

Photo Courtesy of Seward Bike Tours

Elevation gains are gradual with a few steep sections. Snow can remain at higher elevations until mid June. The snow tends to add a very mystic, magical feeling to any mountain biking excursion. It is always refreshing to ride into the mountains just pondering thoughts about how the trails look in the middle of the snowy, cold Alaskan winters.

Photo Courtesy of Light Stalkers

Photo Courtesy of Light Stalkers

And as with many trails in Alaska, the flora is absolutely breathtaking along the Johnson Pass Trail. To get to the North trailhead: At mile 64 Seward Highway turn south on short access road to trailhead. Directions to the South trailhead: Mile 32.5 Seward Highway. Johnson Pass Trail is closed to motorized vehicles from May 1- November 30. The north end to mile 3.6 is closed to motorized vehicles year round. Johnson Pass Trail is closed to pack/saddle stock April 1- June 30.

Photo Courtesy of Analogial Planet

Photo Courtesy of Analogial Planet

Resurrection Pass Trail North

A local favorite, Resurrection Pass Trail offers day or multi-day backcountry hiking or biking adventures. A 39 mile trail that climbs from 500 to 2600 feet, visitors can reserve one or all of eight public use cabins along the route. Along the way, linger to fish in Trout, Juneau, and Swan Lakes, climb any of the ridges that line the trail and take in spectacular views, or just relax on your cabin porch.

Photo Courtesy of 2 Tired Tracks

Photo Courtesy of 2 Tired Tracks

Northern segment of a 39 mile multi-use trail between the Hope and Cooper Landing areas. Trail follows the narrow Resurrection Creek valley through spruce/birch forest, past gold mining areas, gradually climbing into an alpine valley after 17 miles. Snow can remain in the pass until mid-June.

Photo Courtesy of 2 Tired Tracks

Photo Courtesy of 2 Tired Tracks

Directions: At mile 15 Hope Highway in Hope turn south onto Resurrection Creek Road. Travel 4 miles to trailhead parking. The last mile to the trailhead is not plowed in winter. Restrictions: Resurrection Pass Trail is closed to motorized vehicles from May 1- November 30 and will be closed to motorized vehicles during the 2010-11 winter season. Resurrection Pass Trail is closed to pack/saddle stock from April 1- June 30.

Photo Courtesy of Wild Nature Images, Ron Niebrugge

Photo Courtesy of Wild Nature Images, Ron Niebrugge

Resurrection Pass Trail South 

Southern segment of a 39 mile multi-use trail between the Cooper Landing and Hope areas. Trail climbs gradually the first 3 miles through spruce/ birch forest above the Kenai River. It then levels off as it enters the wide Juneau Creek valley passing by lakes, muskegs and groves of aspens. After 13 miles it climbs above the trees into an alpine valley. Snow can remain at higher elevations until mid-June.

Photo Courtesy of Amerika Bulteni

Photo Courtesy of Amerika Bulteni

Directions: At mile 53.2 Sterling Highway turn north into trailhead parking area. Recommended winter access is via West Juneau Road just west of this trailhead. Park at highway pullout then follow this unplowed road 2.4 miles. Turn left following orange diamond markers fro 1.6 miles to Resurrection Pass Trail. Alternate winter access via Bean Creek Trail. At mile 47.7 Sterling Highway turn onto Bean Creek Road and follow 1 mile to Slaughter Ridge Road. Turn right and follow for 0.5 mile to end of plowed road and park. Then follow unplowed road 1.3 miles to Bean Creek Trail. Follow 1.8 miles to Resurrection Pass Trail.

Photo Courtesy of A Trail Called Life

Photo Courtesy of A Trail Called Life

Resurrection Pass Trail is closed to motorized vehicles from May 1- November 30. Resurrection Pass Trail is closed to pack/saddle stock from April 1- June 30.

Photo Courtesy of A Trail Called Life

Photo Courtesy of A Trail Called Life

Russian Lakes Trail 

This trail is amazing! A 21 mile multiple-use trail from Russian River Campground to Cooper Lake Road. Trail follows the valley of the Russian River, past Lower and Upper Russian Lakes then gradually climbs to the area at the head of Cooper Lake. Mostly wooded with frequent open areas with views of mountians and lakes. Snow can remain on the upper end of the trail into the early part of June.

Photo Courtesy of Wild Nature Images, Ron Niebrugge

Photo Courtesy of Wild Nature Images, Ron Niebrugge

There are two ways to access the Russian Lakes Trail; Lower & Upper. Lower (north) end: At mile 52.6 Sterling Highway turn south into Russian River Campground. Trailhead parking area is 1 mile further. Winter parking is at campground entrance station.

Photo Courtesy of MTBR Forums

Photo Courtesy of MTBR Forums

Upper (east) end: At mile 48 Sterling Highway in Cooper Landing turn south onto Snug Harbor Road. This turns into Cooper Lake Road after 9 miles. It is 3 miles further to the trailhead parking area. Winter parking is at 0.3 mile Cooper Lake Road.

Photo Courtesy of MTBR Forums

Photo Courtesy of MTBR Forums

Restrictions: Russian Lakes Trail is closed to motorized vehicles year round between Russian River Campground and Upper Russian Lake Cabin. The remainder of the trail is closed to motorized vehicles from May 1- November 30. Russian Lakes Trail is closed to pack/saddle stock from April 1- June 30.

Photo Courtesy of MTBR Forums

Photo Courtesy of MTBR Forums

So now that we’ve paraded on a bit about a teenie-tiny, small fraction of some of the many incredible Mountain Biking trails on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground – tell us; what is your favorite trail to venture down when you have a day off?

Photo Courtesy of Wild Nature Images, Ron Niebrugge

Photo Courtesy of Wild Nature Images, Ron Niebrugge

These trails are also wonderful for hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing. Be sure to always go into the wilderness prepared with bear spray or another form of protection encase you encounter a bear. Mosquito spray is also a MUST in the woods. Do you need any more recommendations? If so, visit us (Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council) online, or feel free to submit any of your incredible experiences, feedback, suggestions, or questions below. We look forward to hearing from you, and we thank you for being loyal friends and for sharing our passion for Alaska’s Playground!

Photo Courtesy of Duffyville

Photo Courtesy of Duffyville

The colors of summer are alive on Alaska’s Playground! Get out and and embrace the magic UP CLOSE & PERSONAL!

Sources: http://www.kenaipeninsula.org, http://www.wildnatureimages.com, http://www.fs.usda.gov/

Emergency Order. Increased Limits. WE MUST FISH!

To take a “personal day” on #AlaskasPlayground when the Alaska Department of Fish & Game releases two emergency orders that increase the bag & possession limits on Sockeye Salmon (Reds), is totally justifiable. After all, we don’t live on #TheKenai for the big malls and city lights. We live here for the FISHING! Okay, there are lots of other reasons that we LOVE living in *paradise*, but fishing definitely ranks at the top of the list. That said, it is not uncommon for the average Kenai Peninsula resident “Angling Addict” to reschedule their next mornings’ meetings when it is announced at 7:30pm on a Monday night that the Russian River Sanctuary the will be open the next morning (Tuesday) as a part of the Emergency Order. The fist part of the Emergency Order increased the bag & possession limits on salmon (other than King Salmon) from three per day, to six per day. With limits increased, you are still only allowed to have 12 in possession. This “12″ number applies directly to those nutty fishermen/women who stay out past 12:00am and fish under the midnight sun into the next day. And by “nutty,” we mean “totally awesome and hardcore” fishermen/women. We love those kinds; they are a hoot! And their dedication is really pretty incredible.

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So here we are at 11:30pm on Monday night, scrambling to get all of our gear together to hit the road bright and early on Tuesday (the next morning). But as we always say… we can sleep in the winter! Summer is for PLAY! Bright and early Tuesday morning, we are ready to rumble and don’t waste any time hitting the road.

1With about a 45 minute drive from the Russian River Ferry, we figure that it is probably our best bet to get their an hour early, so that we are assured to get a good spot in the sanctuary. The drive appears to be filled with dark clouds, but then as we get nearer to Cooper Landing, we start to see a beautiful break in the clouds and some glorious morning sunlight and blue skies.  Today is off to a promising start already!

2The traffic, however (mixed with road construction)… it never a fun surprise to roll up on. Thankfully we had a good playlist and some hot coffee to keep us entertained and enthused!

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We’re here! And to our surprise, the line to pay the ($10.25) fee at the Russian River Ferry, we not long at all! Woo hoo! We’ll be on our way in no time!

4We always enjoy seeing the cute (and informative) signs that are found at campgrounds and day-parking pull-in’s on the Kenai Peninsula. It’s like a custom playground, with lots of little hidden treasures at every turn. A class act!

5After we rushed to put our waders on  and get ready to hop on the Ferry, we took a moment to snap some photos of the beautiful flora…

6  The crisp morning air (and un-crowded banks)…

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And of course, some of the informative signage (for our readers, we are hoping this is helpful to you, especially if you’ve never visited The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground).

10And another; Fish are Bear Essentials! Great advice for what to do if you encounter a bear. And trust us, there are LOTS in this area! The river eatin’ is G-O-O-D for a bear!

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And just this one last one! For informational purposes, remember! We swear it’s not just because we find the signs incredibly adorable. But I mean, some of them ARE shaped like bears. Aww ;-)

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And off to the Ferry we go! Did you know that the world famous Russian River Ferry is located at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai River? This ferry services one of the most productive salmon sport-fishing areas in all of North America.

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And this is in our BACKYARD… *PINCH*!

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Loaded up, on the ferry, and ready to rock & roll! Only a couple minutes to get across the river, and then we will be on the banks for the OPENER!

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As we cross the river on the ferry, and begin to make our small trek down the trail to get a good “up and early” prime fishing spot, we quickly realize that… apparently 2 hours wasn’t early enough!

15Well, we said it… the Kenai Peninsula is filled with LOTS of crazy, hardcore, super-awesome “Angling Addicts!” This just proves us RIGHT once again.

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Keep in mind, this is how packed it was at 7:30am. Did these people camp here? I mean, c’mon! Whatever coffee is strong enough to get someone up and on the road before 6:00am, we would definitely like that recipe! This is nuts! And despite not finding a good spot in the sanctuary, we totally love the nuttiness! ;-)

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But it still doesn’t help with our (lack-thereof) good fishing spots that we initially wanted to claim inside the sanctuary. We still decided to trek down the dock and see if we could squeeze in somewhere.

18We got our lines ready, but quickly realized that we were going to have to move back downstream to survive the morning without any hooks-to-the-eye.

20

Friends; THIS is the definition of combat-fishing.

21One of the reasons that we always love coming to the Russian River confluence, is the GREAT groomed trails. If your wrists get tired or your feet get cold, there is a vast amount of spacious terrain for you to take a nature hike and enjoy some of the most stunning views on earth. Ahhh-mazing! 22

So we moved a bit downstream, and well… not a SINGLE regret! We got our limit(s) within 4 hours and were ready to eat lunch and relax by 1pm.

23Next it was time to take these babies to the cleaning table!

29Another “something special” that we love about this place, is the fun (and clever) signage along the trails. Cute, clever, but most importantly… gets the safety message across!

26a 26bAnd then there is this one…

27a 27bNow that we’ve made it to the cleaning table, it’s time to clean some fish!

30It’s always smart to be a plastic trash bag to put all of your fillets in, and some ice + a cooler (which can be left in your vehicle and not lugged around all day). This will assure that you are keeping your fillets in optimum condition. Which inventively means that they will taste the best if they are kept cold until packaging and freezing (or throwing on the grill).

31Be sure to throw your scraps way out into the river upon filleting. Leaving scraps near the filleting table will collect and begin to smell, which will further motivate and entice the bears to come to the banks and grub on your leftovers. This will also push you out of your fishing spot sometimes (because the bears run the river, and when they’re hungry… you don’t want to be around or in their way). If you see people leaving their scraps around the filleting tables (as opposed to throwing them out into the middle of the river) we recommend that you politely say something to them. A lot of people just don’t know (and/or they are from out of state/country and are visiting on vacation) and would actually greatly appreciate some helpful advice that will help them do the right thing for the rest of the angling addicts out there. We are a special community, we need to stick together and always remember to help out our riverbank neighbors. 32

After spending the rest of the afternoon fishing for trout without any luck, we decided to call it a day at about 4pm. At this time, the river was continuing to get hotter and hotter (with more and more people showing up). This last photo was taken on the ferry in the middle of the river. Until next time, friends… we wish you luck in all of your fishing endeavors! And remember, “it’s only an addiction if you admit to having a problem!” FISH ON, FRIENDS!

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Thank you to our dear friends at KSRM Radio Group for being our first source for news! Thank you for having a GREAT Facebook page that you keep updated so well. Big shout out to your AMAZING NEWS TEAM, KSRM!

Photos; All Rights Reserved to the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council and Loomis Sage Marketing

Whitewater Rafting Six Mile Creek

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

In the beautifully quaint town of Hope, Alaska is where you will meet up with your whitewater rafting guide to start your adrenaline-packed excursion down Sixmile Creek. “Hope City” was a mining camp for Resurrection Creek (which is a waterway in the Kenai Peninsula), and was established in 1896. Formerly a mining town, this warm and welcoming place is now a popular year-round getaway for many residents in Anchorage and throughout Southcentral Alaska.

Shores on the road to Hope, Alaska

Shores on the road to Hope, Alaska

Along with Bear Creek and Glacier Creek, Sixmile Creek is a tributary Turnagain Arm. The stream’s watershed drains 161 square miles on the north side of the Kenai Peninsula, and the town of Hope, Alaska is located at the mouth of the creek’s. The Hope Road Turnoff passes alongside Resurrection Creek.

Photo Credit: Ron Neibrugge

Photo Credit: Ron Neibrugge

Six Mile Creek is often times said to be one of the most challenging class IV and V whitewater rafting trips in Alaska, according to our friends at NOVA Alaska. This trek is the premier whitewater rafting trip on Alaska’s Playground, and one of the best in North America according to lots of reviews. There are three canyons, each progressively more challenging with narrow routes, steep drops, beautiful pools, and adrenaline pumping rapids all in a gorgeous semi-rain forest.

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Rising over 500 feet in places, these towering canyon walls are draped in a lush carpet of old growth rain-forest with cascading waterfalls pouring in from the sides. Crystal clear water with healthy salmon runs make this a river runner’s dream. Safely running Six Mile’s narrowly constricted passageways takes a coordinated team effort with technical and precise paddling. Working closely with your guide, you’ll be paddling while (s)he handles the oars. This oar paddling combination gives you power when you need it, as well as precise maneuvering capability, according to Chugach Outdoor Center. For those who want the most excitement we offer paddle rafting, everyone paddles with the guide sitting in the back giving paddle commands. Six Mile has such an abundance of whitewater that one rapid will quickly fade from memory as you anxiously look downriver preparing for the next. Precipitous drops, thundering hydraulics and powerful waves follow one after the other in quick succession. With each succeeding canyon, we’ll encounter whitewater of increasing difficulty. With rapids known as “Staircase,” “Suckhole,” “Merry-Go-Round” and “Jaws,” the third and most difficult canyon has six rapids rated at Class IV+ and Class V.

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

For those up to the challenge, Six Mile Creek is truly the ride of a lifetime! All passengers must be physically capable of passing a paddler’s practice swim due to the very versatile terrain that mill be covered.

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Multiple experienced guides will closely monitor your “practice swim” to assure that you have proper form and a concise understanding of all water-safety concepts needed for ultimate safety.

Photo Credit: NOVA River Runners

Photo Credit: NOVA River Runners

And with the terrain you will be covering, pictures of these remind us of exactly why the outfitters require that you pass a “paddler’s practice swim” before embarking on a float… HOLY SMOKES!

Photo Credit: Shane McManis‎

Photo Credit: Shane McManis‎

And at the end of the intense, heart-pounding trip… you realize that you develop a very special bond with your raft team almost immediately. Trooping the whitewater of Six Mile Creek is no joke! It is the real deal, indeed!

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

It wasn’t until the early 80′s, when NOVA pioneered the Six Mile Whitewater Rafting excursions when they convinced the Forest Service to allow them to run commercial trips. Back in those days it was done with non-self bailing rafts (bucket boats). There are few companies in the world who can say they were around and used them and especially on class IV and V whitewater.

Photo: NOVA River Runner's

Photo: NOVA River Runner’s

It is really cool and really quite special that we have this great group of fun-loving professionals at Nova Alaska as well as many other excellent outfitters including Chugach Outdoor Center, in our very own backyard on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground! If you decide to take a journey of your own down Six Mile Creek, or if you’ve already done so and have some really great memories to share, we would love to hear all about your experiences in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Photo Credit: Chugach Outdoor Center

Eclectic Eateries on Alaska’s Playground

The Kenai Peninsula is infamous for a lot of different reasons; Mountains, Glaciers, Wildlife, World Renowned Fishing… the list goes on & on. But lately, we’ve taken a real fixation to the growing number of decadent bistros from town to town. Many are offering a wide variety of healthy, organic, Alaska-grown (& caught) options. And others are just plain chalked full of scrumptious-ness from appetizer to dessert. Below, we will explain our obsession a little bit further with a few recommendations. Just one per town (which was extremely hard to do) but we will dive into more selections per town in upcoming blog posts… so stay tuned!

Kenai, Alaska

Veronika’s Coffee House – “Coffee is ALWAYS a good idea… Life is Simpler with a Cup of Coffee!”

veronicas

Seward, Alaska

Ranting Raven Bakery & Gifts – “Fresh Baked Pastries that will make your mouth water for hours… and leave you wanting more & more! Delicious Lattes and a Warm & Cozy Atmosphere tucked behind a Quaint Gift Shop!”

Ranting-Raven

Homer, Alaska

The Sourdough Express Bakery & Cafe – “Proudly Serving healthy, hearty Alaskan Cuisine. Focused on local & organic ingredients since 1982.”

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Soldotna, Alaska 

The Moose is Loose - “Some of the best donuts, pastries & baked goods in Alaska! Ask anyone you know! This place is a MUST if you are driving through Soldotna. “

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Seldovia, Alaska

Tidepool Cafe & Bookstore – “Creative menu items, local fare, and an artsy atmosphere. It’s hard to beat the fresh options and friendly hospitality that is found at this charming cafe!”

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Halibut Cove, Alaska

The Saltry Restaurant - “Art, Food and Coastal Living in Halibut Cove, Alaska. Not to mention, a pretty cool setting and a killer view!”

saltry

Vibrance is Awaiting. Get Ready to Chase Some Rainbows!

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Trout Fitters Fly Shop

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Trout Fitters Fly Shop

If anyone ever said that there was anything sweeter than catching a trophy trout on the Kenai River, we just might have to object. But this time of year, with our “eye on the prize,” we are certainly not shy to admit that we are overly partial to this species. If you are looking for a challenging yet extremely rewarding and “on your toes, out of your seat” type of thrilling angling experience, Rainbow Trout fishing on the Kenai River is definitely for you. Because of the large number of salmon that swim through the Kenai River every summer, the environment that is created is perfect and incredibly favorable to the Rainbow Trout species. Rainbow Trout tend to flood in and fatten up on the flesh and eggs of spawning salmon. These fish can eat with the best of em’, and the prominent anglers… they know it. And now that you do to, make sure to set your sights high for a big, fat, beautiful “trophy” to call your own.

Photo Courtesy of Alaska's Angling Addiction

Photo Courtesy of Alaska’s Angling Addiction

Bonus! For those that simply enjoy a great dose of beautiful colors and glorious sight seeing, Rainbow Trout are some of the most gorgeous fish! With coloring and patterns that vary widely depending on habitat, age, and spawning condition. They are torpedo-shaped and generally blue-green or yellow-green in color with a pink streak along their sides, white underbelly, and small black spots on their back and fins.

rainbow_trout_packages_alaska

Here are a couple “up close & personal” shots to show you just how vibrant the colors of a Rainbow can be (the swimming rainbow, that is…)

Photo Courtesy of Fishology Alaska

Photo Courtesy of Fishology Alaska

banana%20bow_ed

Photo Courtesy of Fishology Alaska

They are members of the salmon family and, like their salmon cousins, can grow quite large. They average about 20 to 30 inches (51 to 76 centimeters) long and around 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms), but can grow as long as 4 feet (1.2 meters) and weigh up to 53 pounds (24 kg).

They prefer cool, clear rivers, streams, and lakes, though some will leave their freshwater homes and follow a river out to the sea. These migratory adults, called steelheads because they acquire more silvery markings, will spend several years in the ocean, but must return to the stream of their birth to spawn.

Rainbow trout survive on insects, crustaceans, and small fish. Their populations are healthy worldwide and they have no special status or protections.

Photo Courtesy of Kenai River Fishing Report by Mystic Waters

Photo Courtesy of Kenai River Fishing Report by Mystic Waters

We have some business listings below (per town) to get you started, but remember that we have ton’s and ton’s of recommendations for amazing guides and fishing outfits across the entire Kenai Peninsula to make sure that you are set-up in style and ready to rumble. Don’t waste another minute trying to find the hot spots to wet a line and get on some pigs. Check out the options below, or give us a call/shoot us an email and we will play “genie” to your every wish and command!

Seward, Alaska: Miller’s Landing books trips for a variety of outfits. One that we recommend is Alaska River Adventures out of Cooper Landing, Alaska. Click on the link HERE to learn more!

Photo Courtesy of Alaska River Adventures

Photo Courtesy of Alaska River Adventures

Cooper Landing, Alaska: Kenai Riverside Fishing offers world-class fishing on the Kenai. All-inclusive packages include cozy cabins, delicious meals, expert guides, gear & processing. Day trips also available!

Photo Courtesy of Kenai Riverside Fishing

Photo Courtesy of Kenai Riverside Fishing

Sterling, Alaska: Great Alaska Adventure Lodge offers world class sportfishing & nature safaris from their lodge and wilderness out-camps. A great group of salmon, halibut, & trout anglers that are avid nature lovers.

Photo Courtesy of Great Alaska Adventure Lodge

Photo Courtesy of Great Alaska Adventure Lodge

Soldotna, Alaska: Big Sky Charter & Fishcamp is a family owned lodge and guide service that has been providing authentic Alaskan fishing experiences for more than 50 years! They fish all species, all season!

Photo Courtesy of Big Sky Charter and Fishcamp

Photo Courtesy of Big Sky Charter and Fishcamp

Kenai, Alaska: Alaska Fish On Charters! offers affordable & quality services with lots of great package options! Over 25 years of experience fishing the waters’ of the Kenai Peninsula for trout, salmon, and more!

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Fish On Charters!

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Fish On Charters!

And when should you go? Well here is super-sweet, uber-convenient Rainbow Trout Calendar for your reference. Like we said, 15 days and counting until June 11th rolls around… get ready!

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Oh, and we can’t forget to mention… Rainbow Trout fishing is very, very family friendly. Leave it up to our friend and incredible angler/guide Mr. Mark Glassmaker with Alaska Fishing with Mark Glassmaker to teach young (and obviously very smart) Caleigh Glassmaker to reel in a beamingly beautiful Rainbow Trout. We aren’t gamblers, but we are convinced that she probably had the best catch on the boat that entire day. ;-)

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Fishing with Mark Glassmaker

So beautiful, so delicious, and such a super-fun & totally rewarding challenge… even the bears can’t resist a good Rainbow Trout!

Photo Courtesy of The Guardian

Photo Courtesy of The Guardian

This summer, don’t settle for anything less than the best. Reward Yourself with the colors of the Rainbow. Why? Because you deserve it. And you’re overdue for a well deserved gift to yourself. FISH ON, dear friends!

Photo Courtesy of Drifting on the Fly, LLC.

Photo Courtesy of Drifting on the Fly, LLC.

Source: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fishregulations.sc_sportfish

Source: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/rainbow-trout/

You don’t want to miss Halibut Cove Live 2014

Quiet Place Lodge presents Halibut Cove Live 2014; Intimate Gatherings, World-Class Musicians, Healthy Gourmet Cuisine!

Halibut Cove 2

In the quaint yet strikingly-beautiful community of Halibut Cove, Alaska (which is located across the bay from Homer in Kachemak Bay State Park) you can relax under a canopy on the deck and enjoy gourmet, healthy cuisine while you listen to performances from the floating amphitheater. If you’ve never been-to or heard-of Halibut Cove, please let us embellish a little on our extreme love and obsession for this place. Halibut Cove is a little jewel tucked away in Alaska’s first state park, Kachemak Bay State Park. The park area is a total of 400,000 acres of mountains, glaciers, forests, coastline and ocean. Visitors frequently observe sea otters, harbor seals, porpoise, and a variety of whale species. Aside from the wildlife, to-die-for views and endless outdoor activities, we always find ourselves most impressed with the residents of this great community. The laid-back vibe of the locals mixed with the friendly, warm, and genuinely inviting hospitality gives the community of Halibut Cove a 5 Star (+++) for us every time!

Halibut Cove

So if you aren’t already totally and completely convinced that making the trek to experience Halibut Cove Live 2014 is an absolute MUST, let us give you all of the details to kick your 2014 “Alaska’s Playground” bucket list dreams into reality overdrive.

Halibut Cove

Halibut Cove Live presents three live music events this summer at Quiet Place Lodge. Below we will explain to you a little bit about just how fun, special, and truly awesome each of these great performers are in their own brilliant and unique ways.

Saturday, July 12th (3 pm to 7:30 pm) – Todd Grebe and Cold Country

Cold Country started in Alaska with the idea to play original honkytonk roots music that ranges from bluegrass to blues and beyond. Todd Grebe and Cold Country now reside in Nashville,TN, but continue to play venues in Alaska. The band features the red hot fiddle action of Angela Oudean, the raging mandolin prowess of David long, the rock steady all night long bass thumping of Mike Bub, and the rowdy vocal stylings of Todd Grebe.

Todd Grebe and Cold Country

Todd Grebe and Cold Country

Gourmet Dining Special Feature:

Guest Chef: Executive Chef Jason Porter of Alyeska Resort’s Seven Glaciers Restaurant.

Menu: View the menu here!

Read more about guest Chef Jason Porter

Jason Porter

Jason Porter

 

Saturday, July 26th (3 pm to 7:30 pm) – Dan Mac Band, featuring Brad Shermock, lead trumpet for the Doc Severinson Band and John “Pypes” Teamer

Sunday, July 27th (3 pm to 7:30 pm) – Dan Mac Band, featuring Brad Shermock, lead trumpet for the Doc Severinson Band and John “Pypes” Teamer

The Dan Mac Band will bring their hi-energy Alaska Jazz to Halibut Cove again this summer! This year’s band will feature Brad Shermock, lead trumpet for the Doc Severinsen Big Band. Last year’s featured performer, vocalist John “Pypes” Teamer will also be returning with this year’s band. Musical director and keyboardist Dan McElrath will anchor the rhythm section with Cameron Cartland on drums, Dirk Westfall on bass, and the new energy of saxophonist Nelson Felix Jr.

Dan Mac Band

Dan Mac Band

Gourmet Dining Special Feature:

Guest Chef: Maura Brenin, Executive Chef of Maura’s Cafe and Fine Catering in Homer, Alaska.

Menu: TBA

Read more about guest Chef Maura Brenin.

Maura Brenin

Maura Brenin

 

Intrigued with Anticipation? Yeah, we are too! So let’s take the next step together…

Tickets are on sale now! Tickets for each event are $170 per person and include round-trip transportation from Homer to Quiet Place Lodge in Halibut Cove. Proceeds from these events benefit the Homer Foundation. On top of being really, really excited about attending Halibut Cove Live for all of the reasons we’ve listed above, what feels the very best is knowing that all of the proceeds are going to a foundation that prides itself on “connecting generosity to community need.” In fact, their mission statement is “to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of the greater Homer area by promoting philanthropic and charitable activities.” Giving back to something so great all the while being given the gift of all the amazing treats that Halibut Cove Live offers is truly the definition of a WIN/WIN!

PURCASE YOUR TICKETS HERE!

The Homer Foundation
These unique boating, musical, dining experiences from start to finish exemplify art amongst nature’s splendor. Enjoy listening to world class musicians, performing on Alaska’s only floating amphitheater. Unique, healthy cuisine created by some of Alaska best chefs includes locally grown produce, fresh caught seafood, and specialty meats. A no-host bar features fine wines by the glass or bottle, locally crafted beers, and a specialty cocktail, along with non-alcoholic beverage choices.
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To sum it all up, we are finding it hard to sit still in our seat as we anxiously anticipate Halibut Cove Live 2014! We look forward to seeing familiar faces, to meeting new friends, and to creating memories that last a lifetime!
Halibut-Cove-sunset

Photo Credit: http://bit.ly/RFl0f

We will see YOU at Halibut Cove Live!

Up Close and Personal with Bears

Today we are so delighted to feature a guest post from the Disney Insider!

Disney Cast Member and writer Cheryl Kabela Hansen got to tackle the assignment of a lifetime: a trip to Alaska to cover the making of Disneynature’s latest film, Bears, in person. As she tells it, the experience was nothing less than life-changing, so we invited her to share her story with us and with our readers. Please join her on this unforgettable trip to the world of Bears:

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As the wolf crept by me, cautiously curious—we locked eyes for a split second. He had fantastic yellow eyes and a creamy white coat. I’d found a certain level of security during my brief adventure by humbly sitting in the back of the group. Every bear that walked by would have to clear the cameraman first before getting to me, right? But the wolf, he was different. He came around the back. So it was just the two of us (as far as I was concerned). He looked like a big dog, eager for a cuddle. Then he yawned, and my, what big teeth he had.

As a staff writer at Walt Disney Studios, I’ve been responsible for editing the materials for all of the Disneynature films. The big cats in “African Cats” were fast and fierce—and I, like every other mom on the planet, wanted to scoop up little Oscar in “Chimpanzee” the moment he found himself all alone. So when I got a call on one far-too-normal day last year, the wheels started turning. “Hey Cheryl,” she said. “Do you know any writers who might be interested in going to Alaska to cover production for Disneynature’s ‘Bears?’”

Um … yeah. Me.

It made perfect sense to send me to cover a film about the journey of a mother bear and her cubs. I had two little cubs of my own, after all. The thought of leaving them, however, made me nauseous. My husband would surely laugh at the idea of going all single-dad for a week after shouldering the bulk of the day-to-day duties already. But he didn’t laugh. Instead he said, “Go for it. It’s an adventure of a lifetime.”

What? Leave my family behind to trek to the middle of nowhere to follow a bunch of filmmakers while they seek out bears—on purpose? 

Absolutely.

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I’m not a girly girl. I gave up high heels a long time ago. But I’m not that cool chick, either, the one who rises with the sun to scale mountains and eat wild berries. I want to be her, but when Saturday morning rolls around, the idea of leaping out of bed at dawn to go hiking never seems as appealing as, say, pancakes. In my head, I have sun-kissed cheeks, regularly sleep under the stars, can identify an animal by his excrement, look great without makeup and have rockin’ hamstrings from all of that hiking. (I’m also 10 years younger and 10 pounds lighter in my head, but that’s beside the point.)

I wasn’t really worried about the bears. I respected them—in the way we should all respect wild animals—particularly those with sharp teeth and claws. What concerned me more was my fear of The Filmmakers—this elusive bunch of humans who make their living wandering among wildlife. Their way-cool world is so unlike my cubicle-bound, what-will-I-order-for-lunch existence. I was pretty sure they looked good without makeup (figuratively speaking), and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up with them. Would I be miserably cold and count the minutes till we could return to camp? Camp? Where would I sleep? Where would I … do other things that one must do several times a day?

The trip to Hallo Bay Camp within Katmai National Park and Preserve was an adventure itself, culminating in a 75-minute jaunt aboard a Cessna that landed not on a runway, but a beach. I rode shotgun in this tiny aircraft and figure it was at least 20 minutes before I was able to unclench. We flew from Homer over Katchemak Bay, which is where the Bering Sea meets the Gulf of Alaska. The area is home to active volcanoes and glaciers. It is untouched and incredible: a living painting of greens, blues and browns like I’d never before seen.

I saw my first bear before we even landed. He was walking up the beach, a greeter sent to welcome me to this faraway land. As obviously natural as it was—this lone bear ambling along the coastline—I found it entirely foreign, since in all of my years on Earth, I’d never really seen an animal of that size and power free to roam for miles and miles. It was breathtaking and oddly emotional.

And, it turned out, The Filmmakers were nothing to fear. These charming Brits—led by director Keith Scholey—were a welcoming bunch, much like that bear—and they seemed eager to share their wild world with my rookie self. I sensed their enthusiasm ratcheting up a bit with my arrival. After all, their mission with a film like “Bears” is to bring their world to people just like me.

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Scholey and I set out with naturalist guide Simyra Taback-Hlebechuk to catch up with the team who’d been out filming for most of the day already. We hadn’t been walking for more than 10 minutes when Taback-Hlebechuk told me there was a bear munching on sedge grass up ahead just off our path. He was huge—easily 650 pounds—fluffy, the color of caramel and not the least bit interested in us. My heart raced, but I wasn’t afraid. Surely, he could turn our way and in a matter of seconds plow me over if he chose—but to him, I did not represent food. Bears don’t associate humans with food in this part of the world, which is why it’s possible to share their space.

I’m not sure what I expected of Alaska’s weather—even in late July—but balmy was not an option I’d considered. Yet, the sun was shining and I was comfortable in a long-sleeved t-shirt as we walked a mile so down the beach dotted with driftwood and pumice stones, through a meadow and along a creek bed to join camerawoman Sophie Darlington, a field assistant and their guide. They were remarkably happy, considering there were no bears in sight. I got a taste of life on location, where patience is key and creativity is essential when it comes to passing the time (bear-orizing songs: “All the bears are brown …” and the group favorite, “Bear-hemian Rhapsody”). The protocol was simple, but surprising. We went to a spot where bears frequent—and sat. “The bears will come,” they said.

And they did—four at once, actually. Our guide and the filmmakers recognized individuals—one was called Rice Krispy Ears, for obvious reasons. The bears disregarded us for the most part, but there were two that came quite close—perhaps to get a good look at the new girl, more likely because it was too much trouble to alter their paths. It wasn’t fear I felt, rather a profound vulnerability—punctuated by the fact that we were sitting as these 400 to 700-pound animals were lumbering by. I knew better than to run—no need to be mistaken for prey—but I had a great deal of trouble giving up all control. Note to self: control is overrated.

We saw two wolves that night; one curled up for a nap about 20 yards away—a fact that still seemed to titillate the filmmakers who hadn’t really witnessed wolves this unguarded anywhere else in the world. An eagle flew by—its grace and majesty was palpable. It was sensory overload at its very, very best. The sun was still out at 10 p.m.—it was summertime in Alaska, after all, but the light had waned a bit so the team packed up for the night. I was struck by the reluctance of the production team to leave the dirt and driftwood they’d called home for some 14 hours. They were genuinely afraid of missing something—THE shot—and since Darlington was leaving the following morning after weeks on location, she was visibly sad to bid adieu to Alaska. I admired her passion—a quality I noted in each of the filmmakers I encountered.

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Despite the day’s successes, I had not yet met mama bear and her cubs. But nature will not be directed, and—I found out later—Scholey was fairly sure any mother with spring cubs would’ve already left the area to steer clear of larger males moving in for the salmon that had begun to arrive. But I would not be disappointed. We were on the beach awaiting Darlington’s airborne chariot when we saw walking confidently up the beach a trio of beautiful bears. The whole camp erupted—apparently nobody thought I’d get my cub sighting. But there she was: proud mama with two cubs in tow.

Even better: following Darlington’s departure, cameraman Gavin Thurston scrambled to gather his equipment, and I was invited to join the team as they went in the direction the little family was headed, presumably to fish at the creek.

Mama bear reminded me of myself a little: multitasking, one eye on her cubs, the other on the job at hand. The scene was more entertaining than any reality show I’d seen to date, only to be interrupted by the lone wolf who came to check me out. Our guide estimated he came within 10 feet of me (though I was told I could say 5). And I didn’t think my heart could race any faster till I saw that wolf cross the creek where the mother bear was still hanging with her cubs.

Wolf hunting was definitely not on my list—particularly if my newfound cubs were on the menu.

With the permission of our guide, we hastily crossed the creek to capture what happened next. The wolf was not shy about his intentions. I waited for mama bear to put him in his place, but after one warning, she seemed preoccupied with her fishing. The wolf was relentless, and I was afraid he’d get a hold of one of those cubs. Shame on me for doubting that mother, who clearly knew what she was doing—those cubs promptly took matters into their own paws and let the wolf know they were in control. Best. Moment. Ever: two tiny cubs chasing off a wolf, not once, but four times—all caught on camera and a scene that would ultimately make the final cut—which says a lot considering more than 400 hours of footage was shot. I made a mental note on the spot to remember to let my own cubs stand up for themselves when the day comes (and it will).

5

The lessons learned are many, to be sure, but above all, I hope those bears taught me to always be willing to overlook fear, step out of my comfort zone, experience adventure, find passion. My own journey certainly pales compared to that of the family in “Bears,” but my experience—and the film itself—revealed a world much bigger than the one I’d been living in, and for that, I will always be grateful. Go “Bears.”

Bears is now playing in theaters nationwide. See the film during opening week (April 18-24, 2014) and Disneynature, through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, will make a contribution to the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, to protect wildlife and wild places across America’s national park system.

Source: http://blogs.disney.com/insider/2014/04/22/up-close-and-personal-with-bears/

With: Alaska’s Hallo Bear Camp

Dining Across “The Cove” Never Tasted So Good!

Art, Food, & Coastal Living in Halibut Cove!

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TripAdvisor Review: “The best restaurant on the Kenai Peninsula. Period!”

“There is an easy way to say this: EAT HERE.

This restaurant is the best of everything you want if you are planning a trip to Alaska. Views? Check. Great, local food? Check. Good drink selection? Check. Great people? Check.

The seafood comes fresh every day, and is chosen carefully. The preparations are amazing, and you can’t go wrong with any Kachemak Bay staples like crab, salmon, halibut, oysters or mussels. There is nothing they do poorly here, and the small number of tables make for an intimate, special, wonderful eating experience.

Be sure to check in with the Danny J office for your ride across the bay. This special boat is the ferry service for Halibut Cove, and offers a lunch “tour” trip, and the direct dinner service. Reservations are required for The Saltry, but you can find your own way across the bay if you prefer to skip the Danny J’s services. However, the ride is worth it all in itself–the views are amazing, and the way Kachemak Bay looks from the water is amazing. If you think the view of the Kenai Range is nice when you come down the hill into Homer, wait to see what it looks like from your table at the Saltry!

This is a meal you should splurge on while you are here. Make it 3 courses, and you won’t be regretting any of it. The wait staff are all very knowledgeable, honest, and friendly. Wine or beer pairings are well made, and there is a small bar on site as well.

Overnight options exist, and some use the Danny J as their way to get to Halibut Cove and on to adventures in Kachemak Bay State Park.

Make this your destination when in Homer, AK. No trip to the End of the Road would be complete without it.”

Source – http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g31006-d419650-r149129745-Saltry_Restaurant-Halibut_Cove_Alaska.html

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