16 Majestic Moments From 2016 On The Kenai

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PC: Courtney Stanley

The time has come and gone and we’ve officially said goodbye to 2016 on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. From season to season we were absolutely spoiled last year with the most epic displays of raw nature, adorable wildlife, magical mountains and glistening glacier views. We enjoyed every second of our peaceful ‘off season’ months and welcomed visitors from all around the world with arms wide open during the summer months. Here is a collection of some of our most memorable moments from the year as shared through the eyes and camera lenses of our loyal, loving fans and followers. With that being said, we are ready to make 2017 better than ever and can’t wait to share the journey with all of you, every step of the way. Wishing all of our friends out there a safe and Happy New Year!

PC: Renee Gilbert Photography

PC: Renee Gilbert Photography

1 – We started January off with this incredible photo of a sow and her cub enjoying some private time on the beach at Naknek Lake in Katmai National Park. It’s impossible not to fall in love with that adorable baby face staring right at you!

PC: Ian Stotesbury

PC: Ian Stotesbury

2 – February brought us so much more than just sweet nothings during Valentines Day. This phenomenal aerial view overlooking Cooper Landing left us utterly breathless. That turquoise blue color was enough certainly eye-candy to get us through the rest of the winter.

PC: Patrick Thun

PC: Patrick Thun

3 – When late February rolled around and we got a glimpse of this adorable photo of two young girls eating breakfast while a moose peeked inside, our hearts about exploded. This is pure joy and happiness in a single photo.

PC: Jeremiah Frye

PC: Jeremiah Frye

4 – When March finally rolled around after a long winter, everyone fell in love with this iconic sign. To us, this represents a one-way ticket to the very best place to be in all of the Last Frontier!

PC: Prentis T. (Tom) Keener, Jr.

PC: Prentis T. (Tom) Keener, Jr.

5 – Late March spoiled us with this enchanting nighttime view overlooking the Homer Spit. We are so enchanted by the way that the lights reflect into the shores of Kachemak Bay and the way that the mountains jolt up into the air thousands of feet above sea level.

PC: Carl Knutson

PC: Carl Knutson

6 – A foggy April evening in Homer turned into a very alluring photo shoot when the clouds covered the low ceiling with bits of the sun sporadically peaking through.

PC: Lynn Anderson

PC: Lynn Anderson

7 – One of the most magical moments in May came when a full moon was spotted at sunrise overtop of a fishing vessel in Kachemak Bay out of Homer, Alaska. Again with that spectacular reflection!

PC: Joshua Stills

PC: Joshua Stills

8 – June is always a special month on The Kenai because it marks the official start of summer. This photo of a few happy outdoorsmen floating the upper Kenai River definitely gave us fishing fever!

PC: Double Haul Fly Fishing

PC: Double Haul Fly Fishing

9 – When the fireweed was in full bloom in July, we were at a complete loss for words. I mean c’mon now! This is one of the most incredible sights in the entire world. The mountains in the background add a lovely dimension to the overall setting as well.

PC: Laurel Bill Author

PC: Laurel Bill Author

10 – This August photo of two moose smooching shared by Summit Lake Lodge in Moose Pass made us almost explode with happiness. These wild creatures are simply stunning when observed in their natural element.

PC: Summit Lake Lodge

PC: Summit Lake Lodge

11 – When September rolled around, this rare photo of the Alaska Railroad, a boat pulling a fishing boat and a black bear lounging in a tree had us screaming with amazement. This just might be the most ‘only in Alaska’ moment of the year. Incredible!

PC: Channel 2 Weather Team by Satrina Lord

PC: Channel 2 Weather Team by Satrina Lord

12 – Not only did October spoil us with stunning views of fall foliage, but this picture-perfect shot of a bull moose jumping across a chain length fence to join the other neighborhood moose was completely jaw-dropping. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

PC: Phil Pringle

PC: Phil Pringle

13 – Summertime might be when the rest of the world prefers to visit Alaska’s Playground, but we think the winter months are our best kept secret. This winter wonderland shot overlooking the Kenai River at the Russian River Confluence in Cooper Landing is our proof of that.

PC: Courtney Stanley

PC: Courtney Stanley

14 – The cutest (and most ‘liked’) picture from November came when these two absolutely adorable reindeer baby reindeer came trotting across our computer screen. It is impossible to deny that this picture is the cutest thing you’ve seen all winter!

PC: The Meta Picture

PC: The Meta Picture

15 – We couldn’t get enough of this adorable spring bear cub after he got all muddy playing with his two siblings in the tidal flats of Cook Inlet. Is your heart melting? Ours is too!

PC: Lisa Aikenhead

PC: Lisa Aikenhead

16 – Last but FAR from least is this majestic photo from our neighbors in the southeast Alaska town of Ketchikan. Sunsets like this are truly a force to be reckoned with.

PC: Carlos Rojas

PC: Carlos Rojas

Wishing all of your friends, fans and followers a safe and happy 2017! Be sure to put a visit to The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground at the tippy top of your bucket list this year. We know you won’t regret it!

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Take Your Camping Up A Notch With These 14 Public Use Cabins On The Kenai

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Photo by Dan Logan, Flickr

August and September are very special months on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. By now the midnight sun is beginning to fade off and we are getting dark skies in the evening between about 11pm and 5am. Dipnetting has come to a close and the silvers are starting show us a good fight in the river. The fly fishing has also been incredible in the Russian River as well as throughout many other areas on the peninsula.

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Photo by Courtney Stanley

We are enjoying the super warm high-70’s weather and are remembering to soak up the sunshine at every chance we get. In fact, come September 1st the realization that summer is on the “downward spiral” actually makes us get so die-hard that we want to get outside and go camping as frequently as possible. But if given the opportunity to pitch a tent versus staying in a hard-sided cabin, we’ll choose the cabin any day. These 14 public use cabins in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge are an excellent way to enjoy wild, raw Alaska away from the majority of the tourism crowds. Check out the list below and if you want to book one, make sure to visit this website HERE through recreation.gov to make your online reservations today. Prices are between $35 and $45 per night. A smokin’ deal in the summertime!

Flickr, Dan Logan

Photo by Dan Logan, Flickr

1: Big Bay Cabin – Tustumena Lake (accessible via boat)

Big Bay

2: Big Indian Creek Cabin – Mystery Creek Road (accessible via aircraft, road currently closed)

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3: Caribou Island Cabin – Tustumena Lake (accessible via boat)

caribou island4: Dolly Varden Lake Cabin – Swanson River Road (accessible via boat)

dolly varden5: Doroshin Bay Cabin – Skilak Lake (accessible via boat)

doroshin6: Engineer Lake Cabin – Skilak Lake Road (accessible via hike-in, boat, or cross-country skiiing and snowshoeing in the winter)

engineer7: Kelly Lake Cabin – Mile 68.1 Sterling Highway (accessible via short hike in)

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8: McLain Lake Cabin – Off the Swanson River (accessible by the canoe trail, snowmachine or float plane)

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9: Nurses Cabin – Tustumena Lake (accessible via boat)

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10: Pincher Creek Cabin – Chickaloon Bay Tidal Flats (accessible via bush/float plane)

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11: Pipe Creek Cabin – Tustumena Lake (accessible via boat)

pipe creek12: Snag Lake Cabin – Cook Inlet area near Nikiski (accessible via float plane, ski plane, snowmachine)

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13: Upper Ohmer Lake Cabin – Skilak Lake Road (accessible via hike-in)

ohmer14: Vogel Lake Cabin – Cook Inlet / Turnagain Arm (accessible via float plane, ski plane and snowmachine)

VogelPlease note that all the cabins are non-electric and many will require a boat to access. They are bare bones shelters that will require you to bring a warm sleeping bag, head lamp, fresh drinking water (or filtration system), safety gear and plenty of food. Make sure that anything you pack in you also pack out (meaning please do not leave any trash behind). By clicking on the link above to book these cabins, you can read the full descriptions of where each is located and what they offer. Many are even accessible all year long with snow-machine and cross country skiing access during the chilly, snowy winter months. Have fun out there, happy campers!

Fly Fishing Is On Fire At The Russian River In Cooper Landing

Head to Cooper Landing on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground for an epic hike or fly fishing adventure on the Russian River. It’s a beautiful time of year to get out and enjoy your stunningly beautiful backyard!

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Or if you just want to enjoy a good hike and views of the river, you can always park at the campground or the confluence (aka the ferry) and enjoy a beautiful stroll riverside.

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Another excellent hike in the area is the Russian River Falls trail. The trailhead is located in the campground turnout off the Sterling Hwy in Cooper Landing. This area is known for having lots of bear activity, however – so be careful and always be prepared for an unexpected sighting. The parking fee at the campground is $11 of a 12 hour day and you can fill your vehicle full of as many people as legally possible. So load up your friends/family and make it a point to check out this incredible area.

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Fly fishing this time of year is quite the treat. During the weekdays you’ll notice that the crowds have begun to disperse and the area feels like the real, raw Alaska that you’ve surely come to fall in love with. You also might be incredibly surprised to learn that you very well might have the entire river to yourself.

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This time of year, the river is filled with brilliantly colored salmon that are starting the spawning process. We even stumbled upon a huge king salmon on a low riverbed that was turned totally white and spawned out. It is a rare occurrence to see those huge fish so far upstream in the Russian River, but it is always cool sighting to behold. We started upstream and walked down over the course of about five hours.  In most areas the water was only a couple feet deep so we were able to walk back and forth from each side and fish both banks thoroughly.

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It’s pretty easy to fall in love with the Russian River. Unlike the Kenai, it is very shallow in many areas (especially the upper) and you can actually see into the water all the way to the bottom. The beautiful multi-colored rocks on the riverbed are very slippery, so it’s important to use extreme caution when in the water so that you don’t fall over.

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Pretty frequently the bright red salmon would move quickly and splash up out of the water, which can also alarm you and throw you off a bit as you are meandering through the quick currents. We couldn’t stop catching fish! It was epic, to say the least. We hooked several nice little rainbows, but nothing too big in size. They are a blast to catch because they run like the wind and are very feisty.

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We also had great success with dolly varden (dollies), grayling and even a couple beautiful silvers. We primarily used beads on a fly or threw a couple fly’s on there solo to switch it up every so often.

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Everything was catch and release (this was definitely not a “meat run”), just a fun day with a little finesse and a fly rod.

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In true Alaskan fashion, we fished until the very last moment and soaked up every ounce of sunlight. And luckily, we had a phenomenal sunset to close out a picture perfect day of fishing. Talk about one of those moments that make you have to *pinch* yourself because it’s almost unbelievable to live in such a stunningly beautiful place. So grateful to live in (truly) the most beautiful place in the last frontier!

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Have you been fishing this summer? Where are your favorite spots to go on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground? We’d love to hear about all your epic adventures! Wishing you tight lines, water babies and adventure hounds!

All photos above are copyright of Loomis Sage Marketing will sole usage rights granted to KPTMC. If you’d like to use any, please inquire before hand. Thank you!

It’s Impossible Not To Fall In Love With The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Leave Alaska’s largest city of Anchorage and head down to The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground to enjoy the most fun and exciting place in all of the last frontier. On your way down after you pass Girdwood and right before the Whittier turnoff is this magical place known as the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. AWCC is ‘dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education and quality animal care.’ Many animals here are rehabilitated before being re-introduced to the wild, while others look so happy that they will probably never want to leave.

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The first thing we noticed was all of the little attention-to-detail features. The wildlife theme was carried about from start to finish (and every single place in between). We were also pleasantly surprised by how kind and educated the entire staff was (literally, everyone). Everyone was so nice and helpful and most importantly – enthused! To hear their experiences first hand and feel their love and dedication for the animals was so spectacular. This is truly one of the most incredible places in the entire 49th state.

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Next we pulled up to the toll both area where we pay to enter. I believe it was $12.50 per person (adult) of which the money goes back to help feed and take care of the animals at the conservation center. Pretty good deal if you as us! We couldn’t help but love the wooden bear carvings as the sign that showed us all of the animals we were about to see, yippie!

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As we pulled around to find a parking spot (which was hard – the place was totally packed), we noticed the bears over to the right. So of course, that was our first stop. BEARS! Eeeeek!

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The observation bridge through the bear habitat was packed with people that were just like us – totally fascinated by the enormous mammals.

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At one point in time all three bears gathered perfectly into the photo frame while the nibbled on grass and explored their backyard for all of us to swoon over.

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The littlest of the three brown bears was actually the oldest (as told by one of the staff). We had to snap a photo because she was looking mighty good for her age!

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On the other side were a couple of black bears. They were pretty much basking in the sun and completely ignoring all of the tourists that were gushing over how cute they are.

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At one point in time this cutie woke up for a picture. As you can see, he is totally out of it. Shortly thereafter he went right back to sleep and continued ignoring us.

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Next we headed over to check out the Musk Ox in the distance.

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There was a great deal of education information about these ice age creatures and we were sure to get in plenty of reading while viewing them in the distance.

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These stoic animals have such a strong and impressive disposition. Just look at that view… Alaska at it’s finest!

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As you will soon find out from the countless photos below, we were kind of obsessed with the Sitka Black-tailed Deer.

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The deer and elk were both so fun to observe. Some moved slowly while dining on grass while other just basked in the warm sun.

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And of course in true AWCC fashion, the informative signs provided us with a great deal of information including diet, size, weigh, habitat and reproduction.

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In this photo you can (sort of) see a tiny little baby nestling next to the center tree. The babies were so adorable it made it very tough to leave. You could truly just sit and stare at them all day long.

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We also really enjoyed seeing how these beautiful animals all gathered together like one big happy family. With the tall snow-capped mountains in the background, it made for the perfect photo-op.

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We stopped for a good amount of time to take in the wood bison roaming about in the incredibly large (contained) field area.

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These two (below) foraged on some grass and contemplated making a move to the other side to join the rest of the group.

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The big guy was the first to cross to the other side, but first had to stop for a drink along the way.

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Next we made a quick stop to admire the flower garden that doubled as a fork in the road.

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We headed over to check out the moose and the small barn-like building with critters inside.

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There is great information about moose, the climates they live in and how there antlers grow and shed.

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The moose were just chillen out inside enjoying the cool shade in the building. Those antlers are beautiful (and they look so soft)!

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On the other side was a couple smaller critters hanging out and enjoying a neat little space.

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We snapped a fun photo of this small red fox posing for the camera and taking in the beautiful mountain view.

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As we continued our tour inside the open barn area we came across this cool musk ox skull. Pretty fascinating history behind it as you can read below.

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Displayed on the wall inside is this massive wood bison hid with information about it. It was actually quite soft to the touch and we would imagine it would keep you very, very warm on a chilly Alaska night.

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On the way out we hopped back in the truck and took a journey by the caribou viewing area.

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Otherwise known as “reindeer” – these animals are incredible to observe. And check out those beautiful velvety racks, simply stunning!

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And in perfectly fitting Alaska fashion – an Alaska flag on the way out. Next to a reindeer cutout, of course!

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But wait, there is more! On the other side – an American flag. The best of both worlds collide at the entrance/exit of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. We love the little details and as we said before, this place doesn’t leave a single stone unturned.

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Be sure to put this magical place on your bucket list before summer is over and winter rolls around. It truly is a place that guarantees endless smiles as you fall in love with the incredible amounts of wildlife that roam the last frontier.

All photos above are taken by Courtney Stanley and copyright of Loomis Sage Marketing with sole usage rights granted to KPTMC. If you’re interested in using any, please inquire with us directly.

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Photo by Maria Fletcher-Stark, Flickr.

Photo by Maria Fletcher-Stark, Flickr.

As summer nears and springtime is in full swing, one thing that everyone looks forward to (yes, even the bears) is how magically beautiful the fresh blooming flowers brighten up The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground.

Photo by Robert Levy, Flickr.

Photo by Robert Levy, Flickr.

After a long, cold winter it is easy to feel completely entrenched in snow and frozenness. Lakes, yards, valleys, riverbanks, everything under the sun – you guessed it… FROZEN. So when we see beautiful fireweed blooming, it is 100% worthy of a photo-shoot in itself.

Photo from Megan, Flickr.

Photo from Megan, Flickr.

The sea of flowers along the Lost Lake Trail is truly motivation to keep going and going. Exercise seems easy when you’re surrounded by some of the most beautiful sights in the world.

Photo from Dan Logan, Flickr.

Photo from Dan Logan, Flickr.

Accessible from the lovely town of Seward, the views around Exit Glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park are stunning after the April showers bring May flowers.

Photo from Ronald Woan, Flickr.

Photo from Ronald Woan, Flickr.

Renting a cabin in the woods is just part of the Alaska’s Playground experience. Have a fire outside, ride the ATV’s and just enjoy unplugging from the rat race of the city. And when flowers are in bloom, it’s hard not to fall in love with the beauty.

Photo from Keith Parker, Flickr.

Photo from Keith Parker, Flickr.

And if mellow-yellow is more of your style, you guessed it – we have some of that too!

Photo from Bill Bumgarner, Flickr.

Photo from Bill Bumgarner, Flickr.

The view from Ptarmigan Lake with fiery flowers is something that makes us feel a bit like we are in a land of heaven right here on earth.

Photo from Dan Logan, Flickr.

Photo from Dan Logan, Flickr.

And so does the very presence of being at Quartz Creek in Cooper Landing during the season of fresh blooming flowers and crisp, clean air!

Photo from Maria Fletcher-Stark, Flickr.

Photo from Maria Fletcher-Stark, Flickr.

If long walks in the wildflowers and daisy chain necklaces are your cup of tea, Bear Creek is an excellent place to set off on an exploration.

Photo from Random Michelle, Flickr.

Photo from Random Michelle, Flickr.

Fireweed with snow-capped mountains in the background just screams “Only In Alaska” and we fall head-over-heels in love!

Photo from Dr.DeNo, Flickr.

Photo from Dr.DeNo, Flickr.

Or fireweed with the view of a glacier in the distance… that is a pretty epic WINNING sight as well. Fritz Creek is a fantastic place to enjoy the bright blooming May flowers on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground.

Photo from Joe Decruyenaere, Flickr.

Photo from Joe Decruyenaere, Flickr.

Hiking along Primrose is filled with so many colorful sights that you’d think a skittles bag exploded all over the backcountry.

Photo from Dan Logan, Flickr.

Photo from Dan Logan, Flickr.

Flowers on the Kenai Peninsula are so excited to bloom, don’t be surprised if you find them growing out of rocks. These bluebells sure are determined!

Photo from Bill Bumgarner, Flickr.

Photo from Bill Bumgarner, Flickr.

Quite frankly, after seeing this stunning view overlooking Kachemak Bay from Diamond Ridge in Homer, we have never been more excited for the season of bloom that is upon us!

Photo from Lisa Matlock, Flickr.

Photo from Lisa Matlock, Flickr.

And if you’re as in love with wildlife viewing as we are, don’t worry – you can enjoy the moose and the beautiful flowers at the same time.
Photo from Lynda Cazort, Flickr.

Photo from Lynda Cazort, Flickr.

Or if you are planning on visiting Alaska’s Playground to get your fishing game on, we got you covered there too. Even the walk to the docks is lined with stunning May flowers after the April showers. Kick things into gear and enjoy the colorful sights and fresh fragrance on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground this month!

Photo from Nicholas D., Flickr.

Photo from Nicholas D., Flickr.