The Kenai Peninsula is south of Anchorage, surrounded by the Cook Inlet to the west and Prince William Sound to the east. It is one of the most visited tourist regions in Alaska, especially popular with anglers lured by its excellent salmon and halibut fishing.
Many of the communities of the peninsula were severely affected by the 1964 earthquake.
- 1 Anchor Point -- Westernmost highway point in North America. The mouth of the famous Anchor River is here.
- 2 Homer -- Known for its halibut fishing and for the Homer Spit, a four mile long sand bar jutting into Kachemak Bay
- 3 Hope -- Tiny (pop. 200 or so) town on Turnagain Arm.
- 4 Kenai -- The largest town on the peninsula, 2003 population 7166.
- 5 Ninilchik -- Home of a lovely Russian Orthodox Church and excellent clamdigging.
- 6 Nikiski -- Unincorporated small town north of Kenai, oil and fishing resources.
- 7 Seldovia -- Small town across Kachemak Bay from Homer.
- 8 Seward -- On Resurrection Bay, home of the Alaska SeaLife Center.
- 9 Soldotna -- King Salmon Capitol of the World
- 10 Sterling
- 11 Whittier - link between south central Alaska and Prince William Sound, with a population that lives almost entirely in one large building
The Kenai Peninsula can be reached by car by taking the Seward Highway roughly 40 miles south from Anchorage. Sterling Highway branches west towards Kenai, Seldovia, Ninilchik, and ultimately Homer. These are the only two major roads on the peninsula. If you are heading towards the central peninsula, Skilak Lake Road is a nice, if rugged, alternate route between Cooper Landing and Sterling through the untamed land of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. This unpaved road may be very rough after heavy rains.
The road system is generally good and four-wheel drive is not needed in the summer. Be aware that large portions of the road system pass through National Forest or Wildlife Refuge lands, resulting in long stretches with no fuel or other services. Be sure to fill your gas tank before passing Girdwood when heading south out of Anchorage. Mobile phones may not work in some of the more isolated areas.
ERA Aviation and Grant Air offer flights from Anchorage to Kenai or Homer.
It is also possible to take the ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway to and from Homer, Seldovia, and Seward.
Seward Highway - this 127-mile road, linking Anchorage with Seward, passes through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Seward Highway ties Alaska's metropolitan center, Anchorage, with the port of Seward on Resurrection Bay. From Anchorage to the ghost town of Portage the highway borders Turnagain Arm and Chugach State Park. From Portage to Seward, it carries visitors through the Chugach National Forest, traveling over Turnagin Pass through the Chugach Mountains. The diversity of landscape and wildlife found along the route is the hallmark of the highway corridor. The Highway has been recognized for its natural beauty as a designated All-American Road.
- [dead link] Kenai River Festival (Kenai River Fest), Soldotna. The Kenai River Festival is an annual event that grew out of the Kenai Watershed Forum's desire to provide a free, fun setting for the community to celebrate the river that is centric to the livelihood of the local community. At the festival there are opportunities to learn how to give back to the river by keeping it healthy and productive. Legendary festival highlights include 20 foot long magical Luq'A the salmon, pioneer salmon dinners, Run for the River 5/10K race, free live music riverside and more than 20 free children's activities. The Kenai River Festival is a free 3-day event brought to the community by the generosity of local businesses and organizations. More than 10,000 people attend each year. FREE.
- [dead link] Kenai Birding Festival (Kenai Bird Fest), Kenai. Alaska's Kenai Birding Festival is full of activities designed for birders of all levels, including young and beginning birders. In addition to local birding experts well known birders are invited to share their knowledge and expertise while providing workshops and outings as well as rafting trips, films, art shows and more. This 3-day event showcases the beautiful state parks, fantastic wildlife refuge and pristine beaches that draw thousands of birds to the Kenai Peninsula each year. Varies.
- [dead link] Stream Watch (StreamWatch). Stream Watch is a local volunteer effort that strives to help river users have a great day on the river by sharing helpful information and completing river protection projects. Stream Watch volunteers are trained to provide helpful information on fishing regulations, river protection, and bear awareness while completing river stewardship projects. Volunteer opportunities exist for all ages and interests.
Both Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm exhibit extreme tides. The only place in the world with a wider tidal range is the Bay of Fundy. Because of the swift tidal currents and the very soft clay of the tidal flats, it can be extremely dangerous to walk or drive on the tidal flats.
Both salt and fresh water in Alaska tend to be extremely cold year-round. Swimming in the ocean is not recommended, be aware that many lakes are fed by glaciers and can also be extremely cold, even if warm in shallows near the shore. If you plan to do stream fishing wear warm clothes and waders.
Brown bears, black bears, and moose are quite common on the peninsula. All of them can be aggressive towards humans if surprised, provoked, or fed. Mothers with their young are the most volatile. Be aware of the possibility of encountering these animals anywhere on the Kenai, even in the middle of a city. Moose are a major hazard on the peninsula's roadways, especially in winter. If you are traveling with a dog, be aware of the possibility of porcupines as well. In rare cases, bald eagles have been known to take small dogs and cats.