Local Breweries on Alaska’s Playground

From Kenai, to Soldotna, to Homer, to Seward – we got you covered when it comes to brewing one on. Well, actually THEY have you covered. We are just the lucky ones that get to give you a quick glimpse into the savory and delightful selection of handcrafted ales and microbrews that you have at your very fingertips when you are visiting The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground.

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In alphabetical order, let’s start with the quaint and quirky fishing town of Homer, Alaska known for being the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World.” They say, at the “End of the Road” – The Adventure Begins! And frankly, we couldn’t agree more. Of course, once you’re parked that is. Homer Brewing Company is known for producing fresh traditional country ales.

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Located at the “end of the road,” spilling out into Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet, Homer Brewing Company is 220 miles south of Anchorage and worth every minute of the drive! The town of Homer is often referred to as the crown jewel of the state, and its beauty is defined by the land and seascape of the area. From hiking to kayaking to surfing to birding, you can find plenty of activity to work up a thirst.

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Homer Brewing Company began by the inspiration of the renaissance of beer throughout the U.S. and the will to carve out a livelihood in Homer. Brought together through the original homebrew cooperative, the Q & Q Guild, Steve McCasland, Lasse Holmes & Karen Berger combined their talents & love of beer to create Homer Brewing Company. Open September 21, 1996 as Homer’s first commercial brewery, originally housed in a space of 23’x29’, brewing with a recycled, re-fabricated 3-beer-barrell system, considered “micro” in the industry, HBC grew to produce over 1000 bbls. a year with this equipment. In February of 2001, adversity struck when the lease on the building was not renewed and the brewery faced going out of business. Thanks to the cooperation and encouragement of the local bank & astounding local support, they persevered and purchased a permanent home for the brewery, re-opening in August of 2001 at their current location on Lake Shore Drive. In 2005 they installed a refurbished 7-barrel brewing system that has increased efficiency in the brew house.

Photo Credit: tasteofthekenai.com

Photo Credit: tasteofthekenai.com

The flagship lineup of beers available year round include the Old Inlet Pale Ale, Broken Birch Bitter, Red Knot Scottish, China Poot Porter, and the Odyssey Oatmeal Stout. Seasonal and specialty favorites include King & Wing ESB, Oktoberfest, Celestiale, and the Royal Imperial Stout.

Homer Brewing Company Growlers

Next up we have Kassik’s Brewery in Kenai, Alaska. Established in 2004, Kassik’s Brewery is known for “Brewing Quality Craft Ales.”

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Kassik’s Brewery is housed in a small warehouse nestled in a clearing in the woods, adjacent to the Kassik’s home in the small town of Nikiski, just north of Kenai. Frank’s passion for brewing began when his wife Debara bought him a home brew kit for Christmas. Frank was hooked and soon became a proficient home brewer.

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They built a 36 X 50 shop in hopes to someday have a brewery.  In May of 2005 Kassik’s purchased a
used seven barrel system, and then remodeled their building to accommodate the equipment with the help of family and friends.  The brewery opened Memorial Weekend 2006 with their first brew Beaver Tail Blonde, their Moose Point Porter was on tap a few weeks later.

kassik-s-kenai-beaver-tail-blondeKassik’s has 10 brews on tap. They are open 6 days a week during the winter and daily during the summer (May-August). On tap at the Brewery they currently have the Vanilla Bean Cream Ale, Whaler’s Wheat, Beaver Tail Blonde Ale, Orion’s Quest Red Ale, Pale Moon Ale, Morning Wood IPA, Dolly Varden Nut Brown, Moose Point Porter, and the Roughneck Stout.

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Seasonal and specialty brews include the Caribou Kilt, Big Nutz Imperial Brown, Imperial Spice Honey Wheat, Chocolate Cherry Stout, Maple Porter, Barley Wine, Smoked Russian Imperial Stout, “Cream of the Coop” Cream Ale, Spiced Cream Ale, and the Double Wood.

Photo courtesy of ADN.com

Photo courtesy of ADN.com

Next up we have Kenai River Brewing Company located in Soldotna, Alaska. Kenai River Brewing Company is a microbrewery specializing in handcrafted ales.

Kenai-River-Brewing-Peninsula-Brewers-Reserve-960x537When you visit the Kenai Peninsula, we recommend that you always compliment your adventure- whether fishing, hiking, snow machining or just relaxing, with freshly brewed beer. Kenai River is an excellent option especially if you are visiting “Alaska’s Kenai River City” of Soldotna, AK.

Photo courtesy of tasteofthekenai.com

Photo courtesy of tasteofthekenai.com

Currently on tap at Kenai River Brewing Co. they have the Honeymoon Hefe, Naptown Nut Brown, Peninsula Brewer’s Reserve, Pillars Pale Ale, Arctic XPA, Breakfast Beer, Skilak Scottish, Sunken Island IPA, and the Single Hop IPA Series.

Photo courtesy of http://hesomagazine.com/

Photo courtesy of http://hesomagazine.com/

They also have several specialty brews on tap year-round so be sure to check them out if you are in Soldotna and are craving a beer to quench your thirst. One of our favorites has to be this Gummi Bear Beer. But then again, maybe we just have an undeniable sweet tooth. ;-)

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Venturing now down to Seward, Alaska to visit the Seward Brewing Company which is located in the heart of the one of Alaska’s oldest and most scenic communities. Seward Brewing Company prides themselves in offering delicious local craft beer, inspiring meals and impeccable service. Situated at the head of Resurrection Bay, the town of Seward offers a plethora of activities that will easily (and quickly) help you work up a dire thirst.

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Since 1904, this historic building where Seward Brewing Company is today, has seen many different residents including the Seattle Bar, Seward Theatre, Alaska Steamship Company, Elks Club and the Harbor Dinner Club. The building was abandoned in 2007, and sat empty until a complete remodel and rebirth as the Seward Brewing Company in 2012, by Gene and Sandy Minden.

In 2014, Erik Slater and Hillary Bean bought the Seward Brewing Company.  Erik and Hillary, along with their daughter Rowan, are firmly rooted in the community of Seward and the State of Alaska. They have both been working in various roles in the food & beverage industry for over 40 years, combined.  They are pleased to bring their restaurant expertise to the Seward Brewing Company. Needless to say, a warm and hospitable atmosphere that “feels like home” is what you will experience when you visiting this beautiful facility.

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Signature favorites that you will find when visiting the Seward Brewing Company are the Rockfish Red Ale, El Jefeweizen Chile Wheat, Inked Out Stout, Pin Bone IPA, and the Crusty Whale Pale Ale.

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If you fancy a good beer, check out Seward Brewing Company the next time you are in town. While you’re at it, take a kayaking trip through Resurrection Bay, a multi-species fishing trip out on the salt, or a Glacier & Wildlife Cruise and discover for yourself why many say that “Alaska Starts Here!®”

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Last but certainly not least we venture back up to the town of Soldotna, Alaska to visit St. Elias Brewing Company. This is a full service restaurant and brewpub offering lots of yummy options for feasting and thirst quenching.

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At St. Elias Brewing Company, they believe in handcrafting innovative, high quality, world class beers. Their beer matches the personality of their business; fun and lively, yet historic and eclectic. With a 7 barrel brewhouse, the friendly staff at St. Elias promises that your beer will arrive fresh in your glass, as beer was intended to.

Photo courtesy of  redoubtreporter.wordpress.com

Photo courtesy of redoubtreporter.wordpress.com

Offering up to 11 beers on tap at a time, you are guaranteed to have a big selection to choose from when grabbing a brew at St. Elias. Some favorites include the Chainsaw Logger, Cross-Bo Pilsner, Puddle Jumper Pale Ale, Mother’s Milk Irish Stout, Williwaw IPA, and the Moose Juice Barley Wine.

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That’s all for now, folks! If you decide to indulge in any (or all) of these amazing breweries, be sure to drink responsibly. If you drink, don’t drive. If you need any more advice on travel planning, activity ideas, or delicious restaurant options… be sure to call us between 9am-5pm AST at (907) 262-5229.

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Sun, Snow, Slush Cup!

We ventured up from our office in Soldotna this weekend to check out the 38th Annual Spring Carnival and Slush Cup at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, AK.

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The weekend started out with questionable weather as we left town. The sky almost immediately turned dreary and black with large pockets of rain gusting down in the distance. It continued that way through the town of Sterling near Bings Landing.

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And then all of a sudden it was like we magically made it through the clouds and were in a land of bluebird spring skies! By the time we hit the Russian River it was crisp, clear and simply-stunning outside.

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We weren’t surprised at all to see lines being wet when we hit one of our favorite little towns, Cooper Landing. Even with temperatures in the low 30’s, you can almost always count on seeing a few fishermen (and women) lined up in the river as you drive over the bridge. Seeing anglers out enjoying The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground is such beautiful sight to see!

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And by the time we reached Tern Lake at the cutoff right before turning left to head to Girdwood from Soldotna, we couldn’t resist snapping a photo of the snow-covered mountains as they stood so stoic looking absolutely enduring against the big fluffy clouds and the bright blue sky.

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By the time we hit Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, it was absolute (awesome) madness. Limited parking spots, crowds all the way up the mountain, and lots of laughter and smiling faces in the distance.

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

What is the Slush Cup you ask? It is an annual event held at Alyeska Resort where tons of costumed “contestants” (skiers and snowboarders) participate in an alpine run, hit a ramp and try to skim across a pond at the base of the hill for the chance to win a season pass for for the next season (2015-16).

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

It’s one of the most popular events of Alyeska’s Spring Carnival and draws a large crowd of spectators hoping to see some impressive tricks and spectacular wipeouts (see below).

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

The crew from the resort got the “cup” ready for slush on the night prior to the festivities. They did an excellent job if we do say so ourselves!

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

The night before the start of all the fun Slush Cup activities, the Sitzmark Bar & Grill in Girdwood holds a costume contest where 25 competitors will be selected based on quality of costume (originality, flare and style) to compete in the Slush Cup the next day (wearing the same costume).

Photo Credit: Anchorage Press

Photo Credit: Anchorage Press

This year, Colin Gordon took first place in the event. Pictured below is Hunter Keffalos as he flips into the water. Pretty incredible shot!

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

Photo Credit: Alaska Dispatch News

Desi Sherwood took second place.

Photo Credit: Alaska Dispatch News

Photo Credit: Alaska Dispatch News

And Joey Aist took third place.

Photo Credit: Alaska Dispatch News

Photo Credit: Alaska Dispatch News

Jack Stahla won the prize for best crash.

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

Other events included downhill mountain bike race…

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

Xtratuf tug-o-war…

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

Dummy Downhill race (using dummy’s)…

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

And the Idiot’s Swim! Only the brave and courageous can handle this (or any of these events really)… Brrr! ;-)

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort

All in all it was an absolutely fun and adventurous weekend filled with perfect winter/spring weather. And then as we left and began to head back down to the central peninsula, white-out happened. Maybe it was a sign to stay longer? Who really needs to be at working Monday morning anyways? ;-)

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Kudos to Alyeska Resort and all of their great sponsors for putting together another super-successful and wildly-fun Spring Carnival. We can’t wait until next year!

Work Like a Captain, Play Like a Pirate at Chinooks Bar and Grill in Seward, AK

Today officially marks the first day of spring! Woohoo! For us “Alaskans” we are enjoying 12 long daylight hours now from 8am until 8pm. Before we know it, the midnight sun will be upon us and we’ll be forgetting to go to sleep at night. Must/Play/All/Day. ;-)

Seward Alaska

In celebration of the first day of spring, we decided to take a journey to the incredible town of Seward, Alaska. There are countless things to love about this town filled with roughly 2,700 year-round residents. We especially love the half frozen “break up” this time of year that creates beautiful natural scenes in the wild. Like this waterfall for example; absolutely gorgeous.

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This time of year we usually just like to go and take in the sights, spot for some wildlife, and enjoy the peaceful town before the summer rush starts pouring in and the population grows exponentially.

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A lot of area businesses are still closed for the off-season (October through April) so a long, relaxing nature drive without much on the agenda is often times the best way to play a trip to Seward on a quite spring weekday. We recommend heading out to the Lowell Point State Recreation Site for a hike during low tide.

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After taking in the impeccable scenery and getting some exercise on a nearby trail, we headed to enjoy a late lunch at a restaurant that we’ve heard nothing but rave reviews on; Chinooks Bar and Grill! If you happened to make it out to the 2015 Taste of the Kenai, you likely tried just a little sample of the amazing food that gets created by their resident chef, Mr. Kevin Lane. Thank you again to the Chinooks team for supporting the Alaska’s Playground family by being a fabulous vendor!

Chinooks Bar and Grill

And speaking of the Chinooks Bar & Grill family, we can recall first meeting the owners when we attended the 2014 Halibut Cove Live event. After sharing a table with them and walking away from the night not actually remembering their names, it quickly become apparent as to why. Although there were introductions, the owners of Chinooks couldn’t stop raving about the success of the restaurant being highly attributed to Chef Kevin Lane. When you arrive at Chinooks, the first think you will find near the entrance is a beautiful display that tells you a little bit more about Chef Kevin Lane including a list of his incredible accomplishments, some well deserved press, and his philosophy on how he “Cooks Alaska!” From the sound of it, we were in for a real treat.

Chef Kevin Lane

Anytime you are greeted by a sign that condones day drinking, you know you’ve found a great place. Hey, you’re on vacation (or wait, maybe just a day trip?). It’s totally acceptable. ;-)

Chinooks Bar and Grill Seward Alaska

The décor continued on the with the “captain/pirate” nautical theme as we continued to make our way through the entrance.

Chinooks Bar and Grill

The glass artwork throughout the facility was absolutely stunning. A very gorgeous touch to the warm and inviting atmosphere that was felt throughout.

Chinooks Restaurant

And even the bathrooms are adorable and perfectly decorated to match the theme. It’s hard not to appreciate when establishments pay close attention to every detail from top to bottom. So cool!

Chinooks Bar and Grill Seward Alaska

Making our way through the bar area to our table we were impressed by how clean everything was and how friendly and outgoing the service was.

Chinooks Bar Seward Alaska

Now on to the good stuff, try choosing a table when this is your view! Too many options. All of which are excellent however.

Chinooks Bar and Grill Seward Alaska

We quickly found a seat with the best view in town. If the food is a good as the view, this might just be the perfect slice of paradise!

Chinooks Restaurant Seward Alaska

As if snow capped mountains and ocean views weren’t enough, quickly after we sat down this little guy came swimming by. Just a happy harbor seal putting on the best show in town.

Harbor Seal Seward Alaska at Chinooks

The menu came and we got straight to work. Fresh wild Alaska seafood, delcious steaks, hearty soups, and creative appetizers. Deciding from lots of amazing options is not an easy task. But hey, there is no better kind of work that this! ;-) YUM!

Chinooks Bar and Grill Menu

Flip to the other side and you have hand crafted cocktails, Alaska brews, sinless sodas, and bottled beers.

Chinooks Bar and Grill Seward Menu

Although not originally planning to, we decided to start with a couple of drinks since they all looked so creative and delicious. Pictured below is the “Winter is Coming” which has Applejack Brandy, Makers Mark Bourbon, Apple Cider, Lemon Juice, and Thyme Syrup. You wouldn’t think to have a “Winter is Coming” on the first day of spring, but with temps below 10 degrees, it just felt right. The result = delish! Like that view? Talk about a win/win situation!

winter is coming chinooks bar and grill seward ak

We also tried a “Ginger Snap” which is made of Ginger Vodka, Muddled Orange, Lemon and Ginger, St Germain, and Ginger Ale all on the rocks. And enjoyed by the fire. Can’t get better ambiance than this.

ginger snap chinooks restaurant seward alaska

We started off with a couple of salads. First up is this Southwest Caesar Salad (half portion). Made with crisp romaine, poblano dressing, queso fesco, spiced pepitas and picked onions.

southwest caesar salad chinooks bar and grill seward alaska

And a delicious House Salad made with fresh greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, cranberries, croutons and a choice of their housemade dressing. We opted for the Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette. It was fabulous!

house salad chinooks restaurant seward alaska

For our main meal we wanted to try everything, so at the spared expense of our waistbands we decided to just get three appetizers to split. First up was the Alaskan Halibut Cheeks which were made with Tarragon Beurre Blanc, Tomato, and Fried Capers. Words can’t really even describe how good these were. Halibut cheeks were good to perfection and not overdone at all. The ingredients all blended together perfectly for a light yet flavorful starter. Oh and the bread was soft and warm and felt like it had just come out of the over.

halibut cheeks Chinooks Bar and Grill Seward Alaska

Next up was these two fabulous Lamb Burg-inis. Lame Sliders with Rosemary Aioli, Caramelized Onions and Smoked Mozzarella. So good, we wished we would have ordered another plate. But again, our waistbands were thanking us. ;-)

lamb burg-inis chinooks seward alaska

And last but certainly not least were these sinfully delicious Risotto Balls. Filled with Mozzarella and served with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce. A perfect combination of flavor, filling, and zest.

risotto balls chinooks restaurant seward alaska

Just as we were finishing up, we noticed 6-8 harbor seals all ganged up together out our window. We weren’t exactly sure what they were doing, but they were certainly giving us the show of our lives. How many heads do you count in the photo below?

harbor seal group Chinooks Restaurant Seward Alaska

Chinooks Bar and Grill was incredibly clean as well as very warm and inviting. The ambiance was perfectly fitting for the small fishing town that Seward is so infamously known for. The service was laid back and very hospitable. The drinks were refreshing and creative. The food exceeded our expectations from start to finish. Everything was just simply perfect. We recommend Chinooks to the moon and back and we (personally) can’t wait to dine there again!

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Happy faces all around! Thank you to the Chinooks Bar & Grill team from all of your friends on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground!

Two Swans a Swimming in Moose Pass, Alaska

 

Experiencing moments of magic on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground is something that, believe it or not, happens quite often. But when you are living day in & day out on countryside that is filled with glacier-covered mountains,  loads of incredible wildlife, more species of fish than you can count, and some of the best sunsets in the world… this might not come as such a surprise after all. And on that note, please see exhibit (a) shown below. A perfect moment caught on a gorgeous (chilly) spring day in March while driving through Moose Pass, Alaska.

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Two swans a swimming on Trail Lakes, which the town of Moose Pass, Alaska is nestled upon. To just pull to the side of the road and experience such a beautiful wildlife viewing right in front of your eyes is absolutely magical. Did you know that swans mate for life? So romantic. ;-) We think that these two have a pretty great life ahead of them swimming happily on Alaska’s Playground.

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Those moments of magic are in fact what The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground has become so famous for delivering time and time again. Moose Pass is a very special place. On the way from Anchorage heading down to Seward, Moose Pass is surrounded by towering mountains and is known for having some of the warmest hospitality that Alaska’s Playground has to offer. From the moment you begin to enter Moose Pass, you can’t help but to be stopped in your tracks by the undying beauty. Warning; it makes it hard to concentrate on the road! Stay. Focused. ;-)

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The community includes numerous bed and breakfast establishments, guide services, flight-seeing, a restaurant and shops.  Moose Pass will help you enjoy a vacation whether you are a sportsman, photographer, explorer, pilot, or hammock-bound book lover!

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Moose Pass is an unincorporated community of just over two hundred people on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Small, yet charming and perfect in so many ways.

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This picturesque town 30 miles outside of Seward got its name, in part, in 1903 when a moose got in the way of a mail carrier’s dog team. This is one of the few theories that the locals have on exactly how the name came about.

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Even the views from (either side of) the train tracks are breathtaking. The Alaska Railroad never disappoints, no matter where it goes!

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Moose Pass is a great home base for visiting Seward…

Seward

Or the Russian River fishing area.

Russian River

But before you go anywhere, no trip to Moose Pass is complete without getting some of the BEST fudge in the world. Fittingly named the Moose Drop-In. Sure, we may be a little partial to our local chocolatier, but you have to trust us. This stuff is too good to put into words. And its homemade. Best described as “heaven on earth.” Favorite flavor (of the moment): Habanero Raspberry!

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When visiting Moose Pass, you can even sharpen your best cutting tools if you have them handy. One of the locals built a giant waterwheel with a sharpening stone attached to it.

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It is called Ed Estes’s wooden water wheel and sharpening stone and it is another little landmark in the quaint town of Moose Pass that holds a ton of history and tells a great story.

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From incredible vistas to jaw-dropping “once in a lifetime” wildlife viewings, there are countless reasons to put the Kenai Peninsula at the top of your Alaska bucket list.  While you’re visiting, be sure to check out Moose Pass and share some of your fun photos and adventures with us through The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground Facebook page.

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Dreaming of Fox Island, Alaska

Today we are super excited to feature this guest post from Kristi Trimmer who is a full-time traveler, beer & wine blogger, runner, tech geek, and garden lover. Kristi is originally from Phoenix, Arizona and after traveling to the last frontier (and falling in love with the never-ending beauty of this vast land), is currently in the middle of trying to survive her first ever winter in Alaska. Although the minimal daylight hours and chilly temps can get to most people, we are pretty sure that Kristi’s job spent interviewing craft breweries and wineries is keeping her mighty warm at night. ;-) Read on to learn more about Kristi’s journey to Fox Island, a lush, mountainous isle in Resurrection Bay located just a short boat ride from the quaint fishing town of Seward, Alaska.

There is one place when I close my eyes that I imagine I am back at… Fox Island, Alaska. An island with very few people, an amazing lodge, a room that had the best bed I have slept on in years, and a porcupine that I wanted to hug. Yep, I’m still dreaming of Fox Island, Alaska.

A part of Fox Island is owned by CIRI Alaska Tourism, which is located in Resurrection Bay, 12 miles south of Seward. You have to take a boat to get there and there are no phones, no internet, and no people. Well, a few people, but not many. There are only eight cabins – so the whole place has a very friendly, intimate feel to it.

Every day the Kenai Fjords Wildlife and Glacier Tour boat stops at Fox Island for lunch after departing from Seward. But you don’t get to go to the Lodge. The Lodge is special. After I took the boat ride to the island I was met by Cathy Martell, the General Manager of Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge. I might have fallen in love. Not with her! But with Fox Island. I found a place that I never wanted to leave. I sat down, put my feet up and warmed up by the fireplace and looked out at this wonderful place.

I was only there for the night, but I wanted to stay forever. It was a bittersweet time – I am at one of the most beautiful, most romantic, places I had ever been, but I was there solo as the man I was dating had to cancel last minute. I was in the midst of couples celebrating romantic getaways to a remote island. That’s not awkward at all.

There were 3 couples and me staying at Fox Island. It was the last weekend before the island closed for the season and there was excitement in the air that I just can’t quite explain. When we arrived at the Wilderness Lodge we had a seated lunch looking out at the crystal blue-green waters of Resurrection Bay. They were all tables for two, not communal dining. That’s ok, I am used to eating alone.

Then about 10 minutes into the silence, the guy at the table next to me spoke up and asked where everyone was from. So glad he broke the ice! I met Day and Jacob from Texas and Steve and Fiona from England. What was awesome was that Day and Jacob invited me to eat with them – I gladly accepted!

We were all then shown to our log cabins and given some time to freshen up before the afternoon’s activities of a nature walk, a Chef’s cooking demo and then a seated 5-course dinner at the Lodge. Heaven, I tell you!

Nature + Cooking + Amazing Views = Heaven

My cabin the woods – I would live here year-round if I could!

I needed a few minutes alone to get my mind right. To not stress out over being there alone and to enjoy each moment that had been gifted to me. When I walked into my room, I felt more at home in that moment than I had in years. It was the perfect tiny house!!

What you don’t see is that there was also a cozy couch and coffee table with a perfect view looking out over the island’s lake. Right in front of this oh-so-comfy bed, I did 10 minutes of yoga to clear my head, stretch my body, and to meditate looking out over that pristine, calm lake. I climbed up onto that bed and never wanted to leave. I almost ditched the day to spend it all right there – *that* comfortable!!

I loved that right outside my door was a footprint made with rocks found on the island. And that tree stump was home to a few mushrooms, raspberries, and Salmon berries – and yep, I ate a few. Yum!

I headed back out and met the other couples for a nature hike on the beachside of the island. We found out which berries we could eat and which we definitely would want to steer clear of.  There were also dozens of different types of wild mushrooms everywhere and I was SO enthralled by them all. I so want to do some mushroom hunting this year!

I had signed up for the cooking class with Island Chef Matt at the Wilderness Lodge. He was making salmon skewers with a mango balsamic reduction. He was aware of my soy allergy and was up for the challenge! He changed up the recipe to something he had never made before and it was utterly delicious! I never would have thought of making salmon skewers as an appetizer – but boy, were they easy and fast to make, and amazingly good too!

It really was a great way to end this most amazing Alaskan Summer!

After I had some tasty fresh-caught Salmon in my belly, I headed out with Day and Jacob on a paddle boat to explore the island’s interior from the lake. After awhile, Day and I put our feet up and Jacob did all the work – sorry about that! We laughed and laughed out on the water – they were so much fun! While we were out on the paddleboat, Steve and Fiona had taken a kayak trip around the lake and came back with stories of seeing Stellar Sea Lions just feet away from them – they were on Cloud 9!

View from the lakeside… so serene!

After we cleaned up, it was dinner time! Executive Chef for Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge and Seward Windsong Lodge is Jerry Phaisavath. Chef Jerry and Chef Matt did not disappoint with their menus for each meal. The star of the show at dinner were the fresh scallops and seafood risotto. That was hands down, the best scallops of my life! I also want to somehow get that seafood risotto recipe because it put mine to shame. I was so impressed with all of the food so far – nothing was left out in making sure the guests had an amazing experience. From the snack table of fresh fruit and cheeses, to each course at every meal being made with full flavor profiles and good, not pretentious food. They even had great wines and Alaskan beer to pair with each course. Seriously, 5-star experience all around.

After dinner, we were out enjoying the view when we spotted orcas far off in the distance. We thought if we walked around the island that we might have a better view of the breaching whales. So we walked around the south end of the island saw so many jellyfish on the shore and black slate rocks that glistened in the early evening sun.

Lion’s Mane Jellyfish taking in the view.

Once we rounded the southern tip we saw a pod of Orcas – we were all in awe! The sun was setting over the mountains and we decided to take some pics. First time I had used them timer function on my Canon T3i!

Fox Island Shenanigans with new friends!

Jacob took this pic of me which I just love!

When we came back from that walk, everyone else was talking, but I was lost in thought. My ankle was acting up, and my limp was back making me walk so very slow. I was thinking about my life, my time in Alaska, and how this land continues to amaze and change me. How this island touched a part of my soul. I was in love. I was in love with Fox Island. And then I had an affair.

We walked up to the Lodge and were told that the bonfire with smores had just started down the beach. I was going to go and drop my camera off in my room and put on my bigger L.L. Bean coat as the cooler temps were already affecting my Arizona blood.

But then he came into my life. The porcupine. At first we thought there was a big black dog on the beach. Nope. That was not a big fluffy dog, but a big not-so-fluffy porcupine! Of course I tried to get close enough to get a picture of him. He was not amused and sadly, scared of us. He darted back through the woods and up a tree. Who knew porcupines could climb trees?!?

There were very few animals on this island and we had just found one of a handful! He was so dang super cute! Yep, wanted to give him a hug, but instead took his pic. Yep, I had a love affair on Fox Island with a Mr. Porcupine.

I went back to my cabin, grabbed my Theo Dark Chocolate and headed to the bonfire. I stayed for one smore and then decided to call it a night at 10:30pm. It was dark out and I was pretty tired. The boat was coming for us early in the morning and I wanted to be well rested.

At about 6:00am, hot tea and a light breakfast showed up on my deck. The service here is incredibly stellar! I made some tea, did my yoga, and breathed in the peace I found in this cabin on Fox Island.

I headed to a full breakfast with the other guests as it was the last time we would all be together. Day and Jacob were going on the day whale watching cruise with me and Steve and Fiona were on the shorter one departing in a couple hours. Hugs all around as we said goodbye to our new friends.

Chef Matt made me a special lunch to take on the cruise that was soy-free. He had been SO amazing with my food allergy. He really made me feel like I had nothing to worry about and that it wasn’t the pain-in-the-ass that I know it is. And that, my friends, is how every person with food allergies wants to feel.

Thank you Fox Island staff for making my trip to be so amazing – your smiles, your expert advice, and for just being so real, not stuffy or fake – you made your guests feel like family, Thank you!

I dream about Fox Island a lot. A lot. When I am stressed out, I close my eyes and remember the sunset off the island, the crystal blue waters of the ocean, the serene calmness of the lake, and the way my heart and soul found peace. I might have been there alone, but I was not lonely. New friends were made, I had a love affair with porcupine, and I smiled again. I’m still dreaming about Fox Island…

Read Kristi’s disclosure at the bottom of this blog HERE. To read more about her Alaska experiences, please visit her website at http://kristitrimmer.com/.

Live the Dream; Mush a Dog Sled Team!

When we ask people what their top motivators are for visiting The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground, the majority of the responses we get are… mountains, glaciers, wildlife, and fishing of course! But during the winter months activities are much more limited as the temperature begins to drop, many lakes and rivers freeze over, and the bears go into hibernation for an extended vacation. But we are here to tell you; don’t let a few hurdles get in your way of enjoying one of the most wonderful times of year on Alaska’s Playground. Winter activities are truly in abundance and if you are ever in need of some tips or pointers, we have lots of ideas to share! Let us start with one of our very favorites… taking a Winter Dog Sled Tour with Seavey’s IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours in Seward, Alaska.

Seavey's IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours

Seavey’s IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours

Seavey’s IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours was started by the Seavey family. “Take care of your dogs, and they’ll take care of you.”  The Seavey family’s simple motto certainly seems to be working.  With three consecutive Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race championships, a tour recognized as the “Best Sled Dog Tour in Alaska,” a growing list of great-grandkids ready to carry on the family tradition, and the ability to support their family doing what they love, any Seavey will tell you they’re blessed. To learn more about Mitch Seavey, Dan Seavey Sr., Danny Seavey, Dallas Seavey, Conway Seavey, or Jennifer Seavey… visit this link HERE!

Photo from Marc Lester/AP

Photo from Marc Lester/AP

On a Winter Dog Sled Tour, you will mush a dog team down through one of the most beautiful areas on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground… Seward, Alaska!

And where will you go in the beautiful town of Seward? Well, you will go through the Resurrection River Valley right to up to Exit Glacier.

Resurrection River Valley

Resurrection River Valley

Not only will you go up to Exit Glacier (which is a glacier derived from the Harding Icefield in the Kenai Mountains), but you will actually eat a trail lunch and drink some delicious hot chocolate all the while taking in the awe-inspiring views, right at the glacier. The road is closed in the winter, so dog team is one of the only ways you can see the glacier in the winter. The trail is wide and easy to maneuver, so anyone can learn. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what it looks like, here is a gorgeous sneak peak…

What is Dog Mushing exactly? Well, Dog mushing was designated the official state sport of Alaska in 1972. Mushing is a term for a sport or transport method powered by our favorite four-legged best friends. It includes carting, sled dog racing, skijoring, freighting, and weight pulling. More specifically as it relates to this tour, it implies the use of one or more dogs to pull a sled on snow.

Winter Sled Dog Tour

Sled Dog Tour

Make sure you bring your camera. The scenery is incredible, and you often see moose and eagles. You really get to experience the Alaska wilderness, and will leave with an understanding and appreciation of sled dogs. It is usually between 20F to 35F and somewhere between snowing and clear. Trips will be cancelled if temps drop to 10 degrees or sub-zero conditions.

Team Seavey in Action

Team Seavey in Action

For a list of Frequently Asked Questions including gear requirements, reservations, age ranges, mileage traveled on the tour, etc… click HERE!

Danny Seavy, Photo From Seavey's IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours Facebook Page

Danny Seavy, Photo From Seavey’s IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours Facebook Page

If you are a nature lover, an animal lover, a thrill seeker, and most importantly… someone who enjoys a fun adventure, we highly recommend that you put a Seavey’s IditaRide Winter Dog Sled Tour on your must-do list, today! Hurry, winter tours fill up fast! Just look at this face, how could you possibly resist? ;-)

Name: Raptor

Name: Raptor

Find yourself on Lost Lake Trail

The Chugach National Forest from Lost Lake, near Seward, Alaska.

Before we get started, we must first send a big “THANK YOU” to Ron Niebrugge with Wild Nature Images for taking such amazing photos that truly capture the magic of Alaska’s Playground. The majority of the photos in this blog post are courtesy of his stunning photography skills and for that, we are incredibly grateful.

Lost Lake Trail Kenai Peninsula Alaska

Lost Lake Trail is located in the Chugach National Forest, closest to the town of Seward, Alaska but also accessible from a trailhead in Cooper Landing, Alaska. It is approximately 15 miles long and is accessible all year long. It is most commonly used for hiking and backpacking in the summertime.

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During the winter months many residents and visitors alike will use portions of the trail for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and snow machining.

Snowmachine Lost Lake - Jake

When snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, you’ll be moving at a pace that leaves you plenty of time to take in all of the breathtaking views.

From the Lost Lake Trail in the winter, Chugach National Forest, Alaska.

There are wonderful public use cabin‘s along the trail that many adventure-enthusiasts love to take full advantage of as well, so long as they follow the strict requirement of needing to sign up a minimum of 6 months (180 days) in advance prior to staying. It might seem like a lot of notice needed, but these cabins are often considered hidden gems and they tend to fill up very quickly!

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On the inside of this particular cabin, you’ll experience a very cozy setting with all of the essentials to keep you safe, warm, and comfortable overnight.

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The views aren’t too bad either. ;-) And yet again, we are humbled by how spoiled we are with endless natural beauty on Alaska’s Playground!

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During the summer months, tent camping is always an option as well. If you want to get “up close and personal” with nature, this is definitely your one-way-ticket to achieving that!

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Look for forest birds such as fox sparrows, chickadees, thrushes, gray jays and spruce grouse. Alpine tundra draws out gray-crowned Rosy finch, ptarmigan and American pipits. Black and brown bears use the habitat, along with moose. Marmots bask and feed in rocky areas above tree line—listen for their sharp, whistled alarm calls.

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Mountain goats forage on steep slopes of Ascension Peak overlooking the lake.

slowhappyrunner.wordpress.com

slowhappyrunner.wordpress.com

The trail begins in a mossy low-elevation Sitka spruce forest only a few miles from the sea and then climbs through a succession of habitats until it breaks out into subalpine tundra. The valley surrounding Lost Lake is known for its meadows of flowers.

To access the Lost Lake Trail, you have two options. The first is the Primrose Access which is located east of Kenai Lake as you head towards Seward, AK. You’ll find the Primrose Campground and Lost Lake trail access parking lot on the right. This is a steep and moguly climb through dense hemlock forest to the mountains surrounding Lost Lake, high above and behind Kenai Lake. Click HERE to view the Department of Natural Resources Trail Map.

If traveling by snowmachine, the ride is bumpy going up, and takes a 1/2 hour or so, but the endless riding and powder above offer an extreme experience for expert riders.

Snowmachine Lost Lake - Jake

Another way to access the Lost Lake trail is from the Cooper Lake access point. You can climb through V-Max canyon and access Lost Lake from the opposite end by taking Snug Harbor road off of the Sterling Hwy in Cooper Landing, just past the Kenai Lake bridge. A 7-mile drive up this partially paved/gravel road will take you to a small parking area.

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If traveling by snowmachine, you can unload and travel several miles further up the road through a packed snowmachine corridor, and turn left at Rainbow Lake parking area to follow the tracks up the mountain, through V-Max Canyon and to Lost Lake. Bring extra fuel for this route, as you should probably do just about anywhere you go in case you get carried away with your riding.

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Lost Lake Trail is rated a “difficult” trail, so please be advised of the extremities before attempting to venture on a journey down the trail and utilize your local resources to make sure that you are fully prepared. One thing is for sure… if you do make the journey, we are 100% certain that you will not be disappointed with the beautiful scenery that you experience!

Lost Lake region, Chugach National Forest, near Seward, Alaska.

Additional Sources: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=viewinglocations.lostlaketrail

2014 Keen Eye Photo Contest Winners

Well, what can we say… it was an amazing 2014 summer season on #theKenai. And now that the snow is flying on Alaska’s Playground, we must start our winter wonderland celebration by first and foremost, saying “THANK YOU” to everyone that submitted a photo in the 2014 Keen Eye Photo Contest. Secondly, we must send a huge congratulations to our top three winners; Tom Brott in first place with “Friendly Seas,” Debbie Wik in second place with “Kayak Alaska,” and Jeannine Audet in third place with “Paddling with Icebergs!” We had an overwhelming response this year and for that, we cannot thank our amazingly loyal audience enough.

Keen Eye Photo Contest Winners 2014

And for your viewing pleasure, scroll down to enjoy a few more incredible photos that were submitted. Like this one from Jennifer Hanan titled “Fishing Lessons.”

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A dinnertime fire while camping on “Sunken Island” in Sterling, Alaska. This photo was submitted by Deann Crandall.

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Rolling Hills” taken while on an ATV ride in Nikiski, Alaska was submitted by Leslie Richards.

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Midnight Sunset” taken on a float trip down the Kenai River was submitted by Jeannine Audet.

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Time for breakfast! “A Barrel of Fun” featuring a Mama Bear & her 3 Cubs getting into a barrel of feed in Cooper Landing, Alaska was submitted by Calah Long.

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“Marmot Meadow” taken while hiking the Harding Icefield Trail in Seward, Alaska was submitted by Jeannine Audet.

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Camping at Kasilof Beach = “Radiance” :-)  This photo submitted by Sherrie Seymour.

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“Midnight Beauty” submitted by Kathleen Dougherty.

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If you don’t already have plans to visit The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground next summer, we are sure that these photos will convince you otherwise. ;-) Stay tuned for the 2015 Photo Contest for your chance to win CASH through sharing your adventures on The Kenai with us! In the mean time, get out and enjoy all the splendors of winter wonderland!

 

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!

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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!

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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!

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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. :)

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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…

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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? ;-)

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!” :-)

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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

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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!

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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. ;-)

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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:

1

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.

2

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.

4

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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ASMI

Alaska Salmon Chile-Citrus Tacos by Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute

Alaska Salmon Chile-Citrus Tacos


Prep Time: 10 min


Cook Time: 20 min


Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 garlic clove, chopped
1 Serrano chile, seeded and chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
4 Alaska Salmon fillets (4 to 6 oz. each), fresh, thawed or frozen
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 small (6 to 7-inch) flour tortillas, warmed
2 large, navel oranges, peeled, pithed and segmented
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Directions

Combine garlic, chile and 1 Tablespoon oil in a heavy nonstick skillet.  Sauté over medium heat until garlic and chile are soft.  Remove pan from heat; place garlic and chile in a small bowl.  When cool, add water and juice concentrate; blend.

Rinse any ice glaze from frozen Alaska Salmon under cold water; pat dry with paper towel.  Return skillet to medium-high heat.  Brush both sides of salmon with remaining oil.  Place fillets in heated skillet and cook, uncovered, about 3 to 4 minutes, until browned.  Shake pan occasionally to keep fish from sticking.

Turn fillets over and season with salt and pepper.  Cover pan tightly and reduce heat to medium.  Cook an additional 6 to 8 minutes for frozen salmon or 3 to 4 minutes for fresh/thawed fish.  Cook just until fish is opaque throughout.  Remove skin, if any, and break into large chunks.

To serve, divide salmon among tortillas.  Top with 2 to 3 orange slices, 1 tablespoon red onion slices, 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves and 1/2 tablespoon chile-citrus sauce.
Nutrients per serving (2 tacos): 596 calories, 31g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 47% calories from fat, 104mg cholesterol, 40g protein, 40g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 747mg sodium, 173mg calcium, and 2130mg omega-3 fatty acids.


salmonquesadillas

Salmon Quesadillas

jenny The Author

Recipes: Frank Giglio
Photos: Jenny Nelson

The perfect recipe to go with the peach and avocado salad from this post, here they are: eagerly-awaited salmon quesadillas! They’re dairy and gluten free, making them perfect for lunch on the cleanse, a healthy dinner for the whole family or just something to keep on hand for a yummy snack. Leftovers make a great protein packed breakfast too.
Trust us, this one is going to be an instant favorite!

Makes 4 quesadillas

4 brown rice tortilla wraps
8 ounces cooked wild salmon (you could also use two cans of wild-caught)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into thin half moons
1/4 cup fresh chopped dill (can also use 2 tablespoons dried)
1/2 cup miso-almond “sauce” (see recipe below)

Directions:
Heat up a large griddle or cast iron pan with a few scoops of coconut oil.
Gently warm the wraps for one to two minutes on each side, to make them more pliable.
While warming, chop the onions and dill.


Once wraps are warm on each side, remove from heat (keeping it on medium) and cover half of each wrap with the miso-almond sauce, to desired thickness.

Top with sliced red onion, dill and salmon.


Fold the wrap in half and place onto the still-hot griddle or pan.
Cook on one side for 3-4 minutes or the tortillas are a golden brown. Flip and repeat on the other side, cooking until the entire quesadilla is warmed through.

Serve with an optional wedge of lime, or enjoy with the peach and avocado salad (link)

Miso-Almond Spread
 

Ingredients:
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons chickpea miso
juice of 1 lemon
½ cup-3/4 cup filtered water (just enough to help blend)

Directions:
Soak 1 cup of almonds in 4 cups of filtered water for a minimum of 2 hrs. Strain and rinse well. (This step is not essential but really recommended)
Place into a high speed blender or food processor along with the rest of the above ingredients.
Blend well until pureed and a smooth paste is formed.
Note: In a pinch you could also use 1 cup of almond butter in place of whole almonds.

This stores in a container in the fridge for up to a week and has lots of uses, so definitely experiment with it!

Click HERE to get the Peach Avocado Salsa Recipe!

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Princess Lodge

13 Reasons to Visit Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula in 2013

 Reblogged from Princess Alaska Blog

Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge on Bluff

Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula is the ideal destination for anyone wanting to experience the wonder and majesty of the Last Frontier. In honor of 2013, we’ve pulled our top 13 reasons to head to the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge this summer.

Flying fishing in Alaska

1 – The Kenai Peninsula may be best known as the home of the famed Russian River, where people from around the globe flock for what has been called some of the best salmon fishing in the world.  From sockeye to coho salmon as well as Dolly Varden and trout, the rivers flowing along the Kenai Peninsula are a fisherman’s paradise. From the Kenai Princess you can quickly get to the Russian River or even take a full- or half-day guided sportfishing trip along the less crowded Kenai River.

2 –You don’t have to pick one kind of fishing, though, when you are vacationing in Alaska. You can fish for everything from salmon to halibut with a saltwater/freshwater combo fishing trip out of Seward, which is located just an hour’s drive from the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge.

3– Just outside of Seward is where you will find one of the crown jewels of Alaska, Kenai Fjords National Park. Home of the Harding Icefield, from which flow nearly 40 glaciers, the park offers sight-seeing and adventure activities for travelers of any age.  Whether you opt for our Kenai Fjords National Park cruise or a long hike along the park’s well-maintained trails, Kenai Fjords is a must see for any visitor to the area.

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4 – With all the species of wildlife that call the Kenai Peninsula home, this could serve as all 13 reasons to visit the area; but we will try to keep our enthusiasm for Alaska’s majestic creatures at bay, at least for the purpose of this blog. From brown bears doing their own version of fishing along the Russian River to Bald Eagles flying overhead in Seward, the Kenai Peninsula offers a perfect chance to see a wide variety of wildlife in their natural habitat. For a more intimate wildlife experience, check out our full day Lake Clark Bear Camp excursion.

5 – Not all of Alaska’s beloved animals are in the wild, though, which is why Princess offers a chance to meet a local dog musher and spend quality time with her cute pack of canine athletes.  Dog mushing is, after all, the official state sport of Alaska.

Whale Tail

6 – For the 21-and-up crowd, the Kenai Peninsula offers the opportunity to visit and sample the goods at a number of local breweries. From Kassik’s Brewery in the town of Kenai to St. Elias Brewing Company and Kenai River Brewing Company just up the road in Soldotna, there is enough variety to tickle any beer lover’s fancy.

7 – Alaska’s history is deeply rooted in the Gold Rush. You can get a taste of history and try to hit it rich with a gold panning experience, which is fun for the entire family.

8 – Looking for a little more adventure? Try river rafting through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge with a professional guide to help you navigate the Class II+ rapids while you take in the spectacular scenery along the way.

9 – Even if you don’t embark on your own floatplane adventure while in Alaska, you are sure to see plenty of them soaring overhead during your time in the 49th state, which boasts the highest number of licensed pilots per capita in the country. But, if you do feel like taking to the skies, Princess can help you become a pilot for a day, during which time you can get a bird’s eye view of the area’s natural beauty.

Horseback Riding Alaska

10 – On foot, by boat, in a plane – there are many different ways to see Alaska. But don’t forget the possibility of taking a ride on horseback along the trails near Cooper Landing. Just minutes from the Kenai Princess, this is the perfect way for animal lovers to experience the area’s stunning scenery.

11 – The Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center offers a look into the past and present of Kenai, Alaska, with a 10,000-square-foot facility featuring historical artifacts, wildlife exhibits, a museum store and many educational programs for those with a thirst for learning. Perhaps best of all is the Center’s Saturday Market, held in the parking lot every Saturday during the summer season. From fresh produce to baked goods to handcrafted items, the Kenai Saturday Market is the place to be for local fare this summer.

12 – You may not find too many people actually fishing at Salmonstock, but this spectacular music festival in Ninilchik, just a couple of hours away from the Kenai Princess, does celebrate and support Alaska salmon. Offering music, art, children’s activities, crafts and Alaska food and beer, Salmonstock 2013 will be held Aug. 2 – 4.

13 – Last but certainly not least on our list is the accessibility of the area. Less than two hours from Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge is easily accessible to travelers flying into the state’s largest airport

fishing-the-canyon

Fly Fishing for Rainbow Trout in Alaska

thekenai:

Being in the right water at the right time of year and using the right fly…
Well said Alaska River Adventures!

Originally posted on :

Being in the right water at the right time of year and using the right fly… this becomes a common sight. Not just a single big rainbow trout in the net but doubles and triples of 20 inch fish hooked – and sometimes landed. Big rainbow trout don’t get big by being easy. Truly huge rainbow trout are even tougher – perfect drift, perfect fly, perfect presentation, perfect technique – and  a lot of luck – are all necessary ingredients.

Then you have this day…      fishing the Canyon

click here for info on our fly fishing trips for rainbow trout – http://www.alaskariveradventures.com/alaska-trout-fishing.html

View original

earn more about how you can help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 with fish and aquatic preservation: http://www.fws.gov/fisheries/
(Photo: Larry Jernigan/USFWS)

Find Your Adventure on The Kenai!

Bear Viewing: Face-to-Face Encounters In The Wild

Strong, unbridled, and nomadic, bears are perhaps the ultimate symbol of the Alaskan wild. And seeing a Bear, if even for a fleeting moment, is a rare and magical experience. You may see bears in Denali National Park or elsewhere. But going bear viewing at Brooks River Falls, Wolverine Creek or Katmai National Park is an entirely different experience.

Go with one of our picks and you’ll get a virtually guaranteed viewing of anywhere between 4 and 20 bears at once, much closer up than you would in Denali, and usually for hours at a time. And instead of just eating berries, bears on these trips will likely be fishing or splashing in the water. A fly-in trip is not cheap, but if seeing bears in Alaska is a must on your agenda, then one of these tours should be as well.

Skilled hunters and wild roamers, these creatures command our admiration, even as their sheer size and strength also evoke and stir our primal fear. More than 50,000 black bears and 35,000 brown bears range the state’s untamed wilderness, lumbering through berry-covered hillsides and slapping at salmon-choked rivers. Unlike moose, you probably won’t casually encounter bears on the road – you really have to go searching. One option is to visit Denali National Park, where your chances of seeing them, at least from a distance, improve. To see throngs of bears up close – belly – flopping into rivers, jaw-sparring for the best fishing grounds, or just napping in the sun – air – taxi operators can fly you to places with excellent viewing odds.

A 5- to 10-hour bear-viewing tour offers a unique insight into the creatures’ culture – in fact, you may end up witnessing behaviors that even bear-viewing experts have never seen. Many bears have become so accustomed to human presence they tend to ignore visitors and carry on with their normal routines. And usually, getting to a bear-viewing spot is an experience in itself. You’ll fly over glassy backcountry lakes, cragged mountain peaks, massive ice fields, pebble beaches, golden tundra, and a wealth of rugged wilderness.

Learn more about how to book your bear viewing trip.

Resource

Alaska Sea Kayaking & Alaska Adventure Vacations

Have you ever imagined a place of turquoise blue waters, tidewater and hanging glaciers, islands of protected coves and rugged cliffs teaming with whales and puffins under glorious skies? These visions become reality in Kenai Fjords National Park and Resurrection Bay. The waters abound with marine life. Sea otters casually watch you as they feed on sea urchins and mollusks; adolescent seals follow you curiously as you kayak in silence; pods of orcas glide through the waters as they search for salmon…it’s all here waiting for you.

Resource

Kenai Area White Water Rafting

The Upper Kenai River is a very popular rafting destination for private boaters and guided raft trip participants. Within the available 17 river miles between Kenai and Skilak Lakes, mainly class 2 and some class 3. This section of the river requires some planning: once at Skilak Lake, rafters must either boat the seven miles to a take out point at Upper Skilak Lake Campground, or deflate their rafts and pack them up the Hidden Creek Trail to the Skilak Lake Loop Road, a distance of 2 miles, uphill. Rafters should always wear their personal floatation devices on this river due to the fast and cold waters.

The Six Mile Creek is one of the most challenging rafting rivers on The Kenai, the excitement and thrill of running this river with an expert is an experience unlike others on The Kenai. Towering rocky cliffs looming over the huge waves provide a stunning setting for this thrilling run. Mainly class 4 or 5 sections, it should only be attempted by experienced rafters or with a reputable company.

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Kenai Peninsula Flightseeing

Flightseeing takes many forms on The Kenai, it can be enjoyed from airplanes, seaplanes, ski-planes, and helicopters. You can enjoy the spectacular scenery from the air as you fly over Kenai Fjords National Park, Lake Clark National Park, the Chugach National Forest or even Kachemak Bay State Park. Or you can land for an up close and personal look at a glacier, a volcano, or bears and other wildlife. It can also be your ticket to accessing remote fishing areas and hiking trails.

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Fish, Fish, fish! And why, why, why? Because location, location, location!

The Kenai is world renowned for its wide-ranging fishing opportunities. Four species of salmon by the hundreds of thousands—find their way into the Peninsula’s bays, rivers, and lakes to return to where their lives began. Virtually any time of the summer is salmon fishing season on The Kenai. The largest King Salmon of all, weighing close to 100 pounds, are sought on the famed lower Kenai River. Salmon is only part of the draw. Most seacoast towns on The Kenai offer charter fishing for halibut and other saltwater species.

The Russian River and the confluence with the Russian and Kenai Rivers is one of the most popular bank fishing sites, providing red salmon fishing access to many anglers. The fishery is accessed either by a road into the US Forest Service’s Russian River Campground, or a ferry currently operated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, that provides Kenai-Russian River access.

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