15 Festive Ways To Embrace The Fall Season With Arms Wide Open

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Photo Credit: Wild Alaska Art – Dan Twitchell

Fall is one of the most magical times of the year on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground. The morning air is crisp and fresh, the fall foliage surrounds you down every road you drive, the sunsets are electric, the alpenglow’s are magnificent, the pumpkin flavored treats are utterly delicious and the cozy moments spend indoors are filled with nostalgic moments.

Photo Credit: David L. Brown

Photo Credit: David L. Brown

1 – Get outside and spend the day hiking and soaking in the fall foliage.

Photo Credit: Sujohn Das, Flickr

Photo Credit: Sujohn Das, Flickr

2 – Enjoy the final days of RV season and enjoy an overnighter. A mini road trip from Seward to Homer (while stopping in every town along the way) is the best way to drink life in.

Photo Credit: State of Alaska - Michael DeYoung

Photo Credit: State of Alaska – Michael DeYoung

3 – Wet some lines and enjoy the spectacular scenery, without the ‘combat fishing’ mayhem.

Photo Credit: Drifter's Lodge

Photo Credit: Drifter’s Lodge

4 – Take a day trip along the Seward or Sterling Highway and stop at all the pull outs to take in the epic views.

Photo Credit: Photographer Unknown

Photo Credit: Photographer Unknown

5 – Treat your fur babies to as many outings as possible before the snow flies and their paws can’t handle the trek without booties.

Photo Credit: Dana Orlosky - Flickr

Photo Credit: Dana Orlosky – Flickr

6 – Hop on the Alaska Railroad for a day of rest and relaxation, and enjoy off-the-grid views along the way.

Photo Credit: Tonia Burrough

Photo Credit: Tonia Burrough

7 – Rent a public use cabin on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground and unplug for the night. If you prefer to have some more frills and creature comforts, take advantage of the awesome shoulder season prices that are available now at hospitality spots all over the Kenai Peninsula.

Photo Credit: Recreation.gov

Photo Credit: Recreation.gov

8 – Enjoy wildlife viewing and watch as the bears fatten up before heading into hibernation.

Photo Credit: Heidi Ho Hanson

Photo Credit: Heidi Ho Hanson

9 – Go biking in the backcountry and cover as much (stunningly beautiful) ground as possible.

10 – Chase as many sunsets as humanly possible. Even if you loose a little sleep, you will NEVER regret it.

Photo Credit: Anik Martin

Photo Credit: Anik Martin

11 – As the temperature continues to drop, use every excuse possible to make a fire and have a cozy night in. Don’t forget the snacks, movies and soft blankets!

Photo Credit: Scott Schiller - Flickr

Photo Credit: Scott Schiller – Flickr

12 – It’s the season for ‘all things’ pumpkin spice, so indulge a little wontcha! 😉

Photo Credit: The Moose Is Loose - Facebook

Photo Credit: The Moose Is Loose – Facebook

13 – If the forecast calls for a Northern Lights show, stay up late and soak it in. Being tired the next day will be worth it after you lay eyes on the Aurora Borealis in action.

Photo Credit: Vaughn Johnson Photography

Photo Credit: Vaughn Johnson Photography

14 – If it’s chilly or gloomy, have fun by visiting places like the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage or the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward. Fun for the whole family!

Photo Credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center - Facebook

Photo Credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center – Facebook

15 – It’s okay to blend in with the crowd. Sometimes ‘status quo’ just feels way too good to ignore. The warm and fuzzies that remind you of childhood should be celebrated as often as possible. Soak in the magic of the season by doing all the traditional favorites that spark a major dose of nostalgia – and love every single minute of it!

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Need more ideas to keep you busy this fall on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground? Leave a comment below or feel free to shoot us a personal Facebook message.

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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)

indian creek

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)

kelly lake

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

mclain

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

nurses

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

pincher

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)

snag lake

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!

150 Million Acres of Magic in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Photo from O'Dell Fowles shared by High Adventure Air Charter, Guides & Outfitters.

Photo from O’Dell Fowles shared by High Adventure Air Charter, Guides & Outfitters.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is one of over 500 unites in the National Wildlife Refuge System. This is a 150-million acre network of lands and waters that is set aside to help conserve out nation’s fish and wildlife heritage.

Photo from the Cooper Landing Chamber of Commerce & Visitor's Center and Tracy Curtin.

Photo from the Cooper Landing Chamber of Commerce & Visitor’s Center and Tracy Curtin.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, often call “Alaska in miniature,” is home to a wide diversity of wildlife including moose, eagles, brown and black bears, lynx, wolves and trumpeter swans.

Bald eagles in Homer, Alaska from freenaturepictures.blogspot.com.

Bald eagles in Homer, Alaska from freenaturepictures.blogspot.com.

For a complete list of species, visit the official U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service link HERE.

Lynx enjoying the fresh snowfall on the Kenai Peninsula.

Lynx enjoying the fresh snowfall on the Kenai Peninsula.

The eastern portion of the refuge descends from the 6,500 Harding Ice Field to 2,000 to 4,000 ft. peaks in the western Kenai Mountains.

Photo of the Harding Ice Field from www.photosbymartin.com.

Photo of the Harding Ice Field from http://www.photosbymartin.com.

Ice fields and glaciers are vital sources of fresh water for wildlife and people. Mountain goats, brown bears and ravens have been sighted crossing glaciers by many locals and visitors alike.

Photo from Mark Johnson.

Photo from Mark Johnson.

A wildlife sighting in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is always a special treat. And it happens quite frequently, so be sure to always keep a look out. After all, this is their backyard, we just get to play in it. 😉

Photo from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page.

Photo from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page.

In the refuge you will find Mountain Tundra. This is where the tree line ends at 1,500 to 2,000 ft. with low growing tundra plants and shrubs continuing in elevation to snow and rock fields at 4,000 ft. Dall sheep, mountain goats, and caribou roam this rugged country. Hoary marmots form colonies on talus slopes.

Brown bears graze for berries and occasionally take marmots and sheep. Wolves and golden eagles have been known to be successful hunters of young sheep. Wolverines scavenge the carcasses of dead sheep and goats.

Photo of brown bears searching for berries.

Photo of brown bears searching for berries.

From sea level to 2,000 ft., the northern boreal forest is found on the refuge. This forest is composed predominately of white and black spruce, birch, aspen, and cottonwood trees in various stages of succession. This forest is an important source of food and shelter for moose, black and brown bears, lynx, wolves, coyotes, porcupine, weasels, red squirrels and snowshoe hares.

Northern Boreal Forest in Alaska.

Northern Boreal Forest in Alaska.

The lakes & wetlands in the refuge are something extra special! The northeastern portion of the refuge is dotted with hundreds of small lakes surrounded by wetland tundra or spruce/hardwood forest hills. This large wetland habitat supports migratory breeding birds including common and pacific loons, grebes, trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, ducks, and shorebirds.

Photo from the Redoubt Reporter.

Photo from the Redoubt Reporter.

Mammals found within this lake & wetland habitat include caribou, moose, beaver, muskrat, and mink. The lakes support a variety of fish species, such as rainbow trout, arctic char, red and silver salmon, and sticklebacks.

Photo from Alaska.org.

Photo from Alaska.org.

Also within this habitat, the Chickaloon River Flats remains the last pristine major saltwater estuary on the Kenai Peninsula. The Flats serves as a staging area for thousands of shorebirds and waterfowl.

Photo at the Chickaloon River Flats from the Redoubt Reporter.

Photo at the Chickaloon River Flats from the Redoubt Reporter.

And the Rivers in the refuge can be described as “what dreams are made of” with some being world renowned.

Photo from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page.

Photo from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page.

The refuge is drained by nine river systems, including the world famous Kenai River, renowned for its wide variety of sport fish including Chinook (king), sockeye (red), and coho (silver) salmon, and Dolly Varden and rainbow trout.

Photo from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Facebook Page.

Photo from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Facebook Page.

Bald eagles are often sighted perched in tall cottonwoods along the riverbanks. Brown and black bears are attracted to the rich fish resources in summer and fall. Moose, beaver, and mergansers are commonly seen wildlife along refuge river systems.

Photo from the Upper Kenai River Trail at the Russian River Ferry, from USFWS/Berkley Bedell.

Photo from the Upper Kenai River Trail at the Russian River Ferry, USFWS/Berkley Bedell.

If you haven’t yet visited, you simply MUST. Be sure to make time to catch a good reflection (double the pleasure, double the memories).

Photo from Aren Kert at Tern Lake.

Photo from Aren Kert at Tern Lake.

And a beautiful rainbow won’t hurt your eyes too bad either… 😉

Photo from Sara Moore via the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page.

Photo from Sara Moore via the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page.

If you prefer to get your body moving and enjoy an active lifestyle, we recommend a hike in the refuge. So many incredible options to choose from.

Photo from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page.

Photo from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page.

Be sure to get up early enough (at least one day) to enjoy a sunrise. Worth it? We think so!

Photo from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page.

Photo from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page.

And of course, it’s always a good idea to take a load off and enjoy a good sunset. Happy travels, friends. 🙂

Sunset over Mt. Iliamna. What dreams are made of.

Sunset over Mt. Iliamna. What dreams are made of.

 

10 THINGS TO DO ON THE KENAI!

Get ready for your visit by browsing the many attractions the Kenai Peninsula offers! Whether catching wildlife in your camera, on a hook, or in your memories, the Kenai is sure to meet your adventurous needs.

BOUNTIFUL WILDLIFE

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is 90% wilderness and therefore a destination of choice for Alaskan travelers who desire to observe wildlife within its natural habitat. We serve as the gateway for Alaska’s best one-day flightseeing trips to view the famed Katmai and Wolverine Creek bears. The Kenai is home to one black bear per square mile. Black or brown bears may be spotted from your vehicle, from your raft as you float by, or up on the mountainside while hiking our miles of improved trails.

The Kenai’s coast is one of Alaska’s prime viewing areas for marine wildlife. Kenai Fjords is certainly a mecca for marine wildlife watchers, as is Kachemak Bay. Birding is world class, and many travelers time their visit to witness some of nature’s special events: the migration of shorebirds in Homer or the gathering of snow geese on the Kenai River flats. Did we mention moose? Formerly known as the Kenai National Moose Range, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is a sanctuary that comprises approximately a third of the peninsula and provides an ideal haven for moose, lynx, wolves, dall sheep, caribou, fox, coyotes and more.

BIRDING ON THE KENAI

The Kenai has a wide array of easily accessible seashores, rivers, creeks, lakes, marshes and alpine country which make for some truly exceptional birding. We are accessible by road (private and group charters readily available for more remote destinations), have all the modern amenities, yet can offer birding in a truly beautiful wilderness setting. There are 469 species of birds documented in Alaska, plus more than 30 other species reported but not verified, and most can be found right here.

RIVERS AND LAKES

The surprising turquoise color of many of The Kenai’s rivers and lakes is very unusual and is caused by just the right blending of glacial waters and snowmelt. Home to spawning salmon, these rivers and lakes can be explored by rafting, fishing from drift or powerboats, or finding beautiful trails along the shores. Some of Alaska’s wildest whitewater, as well as some of its most placid and scenic waterways, can be found on The Kenai. The quaint settlements of Moose Pass and Cooper Landing, along with the larger communities of Sterling, Soldotna, and Kenai, owe a substantial portion of their livelihoods to the bounty of fish, scenery, and wildlife that the Kenai watershed provides.

KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK

Over the eons, glacier ice has carved valleys that are now submerged under seawater, thus forming the fjords. Kenai Fjords National Park preserves this magical part of the Peninsula, and a diverse fleet of small ships delivers the experience. The Kenai Fjords offers more than majestic scenery—few places in the world can boast of the stunning concentrations of wildlife viewed on a daily basis in the Kenai Fjords and the adjoining islands of the Maritime National Wildlife Refuge: sea otters, puffins, sea lions, kittiwakes, humpback and orca whales, harbor seals, oyster catchers and more. Glaciers are still making their way down from the ice fields, and witnessing the calving of huge chunks of ice from the glacier’s face as it meets the sea reminds us that the Kenai Fjords are still under construction.

FOUR ACTIVE VALCANOES

There aren’t many places in the world where you can gaze upon four active volcanoes from one stretch of beautiful highway. From north to south, Mt. Spurr, Mt. Redoubt, Mt. Illiamna and St. Augustine all may be viewed from the western shore of the Kenai Peninsula, out across Cook Inlet to the Alaska Peninsula. The volcano coast isn’t the only scenic drive on the Peninsula…one would have a hard time choosing a favorite stretch of road—there are dramatic vistas and spectacular scenery from one community to the next.

KENAI MOUNTAINS / HARDING ICE FIELDS

Mountains connect The Kenai to the rest of Alaska, and mountains link the regions of The Kenai together. They form the setting, the backdrop, or the stunning scenery on the horizon. They span The Kenai’s four major protected areas: Chugach National Forest, Kenai Fjords National Park, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and Kachemak Bay State Park. These mountains hold a contiguous ice field that is larger than the state of Rhode Island, is a half-mile deep, and is reachable by an adventuresome trail or two. They are the most accessible mountains in the state; with more than 433 miles of improved trails to help you find your own private mountain paradise for your day hike, backpacking trip, or leisurely walk.

GLACIER AND WILDLIFE CRUISES

The town of Seward is the launching point for a number of different glacier trips ranging from a short tour around Resurrection Bay to an all day excursion into Aialik Bay or Northwestern Fjord. Homer also offers a number of wildlife cruises in Kachemak Bay State Park. Remember that while you will be enjoying glacial views from the comfort of the boat cabin, the closer you get to the glaciers the more the temperature drops, so dress in warm layers.

CAMPING

The Kenai is well known for the extensive camping opportunities available along its road system. Numerous public campgrounds are located within the Chugach National Forest, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska State Parks unit, and within municipal areas of Seward, Soldotna, Kenai, and Homer.

FLIGHT SEEING

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.

FISHING

The Kenai River has many public access sites and private businesses along its shores in the Sterling-Soldotna-Kenai area offering bank angling access during the popular salmon runs. Many of the popular bank angling access sites offer “habitat friendly” facilities designed to protect important fish habitat. Elevated walkways, stairways into the river and other methods protect valuable vegetation important for healthy fish habitat, ensuring that the popular runs of salmon can continue.

Crooked Creek & The Kasilof River offers bank angling at the confluence and is one of The Kenai’s most popular and productive locations for king salmon fishing from shore. With kings ranging in size from about 20-40 pounds, they are more than a handful on rod and reel from the shore!

Deep Creek, Ninilchik River, & Anchor River all give great results. Bank angling on Deep Creek, the Ninilchik River and the Anchor River are all popular springtime pursuits for anglers targeting early kings. Check the fishing regulations, as these rivers are only open for fishing on certain weekends.

Charter Opportunities exist for fishing enthusiasts interested in rainbow and/or salmon fishing of the Kenai or Kasilof Rivers, while an extensive charter industry is available to offer halibut fishing and/or salmon fishing near the communities of Seward, Ninilchik, Anchor Point, and Homer.

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.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MANY ATTRACTIONS ON THE KENAI!