Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula
After Denali National Park, we headed south to the beautiful Kenai Peninsula to check out everything it had to offer. We didn’t really go with a plan. We just figured we’d find out what there is to do and do some of it.
Kenai offers plenty of sights to see, plenty of sweeping vistas, and plenty of eagles. Really, there are eagles everywhere on the peninsula. It was nothing to see 2 or 3 sitting in the same tree.
Taking Alaska Highway 1 along the western coast of the peninsula, you get to see three of the four volcanoes across the Cook Inlet: Augustine and Iliamna down near Homer and Redoubt up above Ninilchik. Further north is Spurr, which you might be lucky enough to see on a clear day.
Kenai Fjords National Park
One of the biggest attractions on the peninsula is the Kenai Fjords National Park. We actually didn’t make it to this park because Knox wasn’t allowed. For those of you that aren’t traveling with a dog, however, there’s hiking, kayaking, fishing, mountaineering, and glacier viewing. We’re adding this to the list of places to return without Knox, along with Denali National Park. It sounds like a return trip to Alaska is a definite for us.
Homer is the end of the line on the Kenai Peninsula. If fishing is on your travel agenda, Homer is a great place for it (they claim to be the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World). There are plenty of charters in this little fishing village. If eating fresh fish and crab caught by someone else is on your list, the Homer spit will cover your bases there too. We enjoyed a fantastic crab po’boy and crab cakes for lunch one day at one of the many restaurants serving up today’s catch.
Outside of that, Homer has beaches (though you probably won’t want to swim) and incredible views of Kachemak Bay. We stayed with a super cool CouchSurfing host in a dry cabin just beyond the eastern edge of Homer. Every morning we woke up to that picture above…which was taken from the window of our bedroom.
Another great way to spend a few hours in Homer is the Islands & Ocean Visitor’s Center. It has a good deal of information about the history of the area, including Russian ownership and the fur trade that nearly wiped out the sea otters, along with information about the Aleutian Islands that most of us will never get to. There are two films, one of which we watched, that show the outlying islands (Aleutians included) that require a long boat ride or plane flight to get to.
Ninilchik Village & Russian Orthodox Church
As you make your way south to Homer, it’s worth spending an hour or two in the small fishing village of Ninilchik. The beaches gave us some of the best eagle viewing of the trip, along with outstanding views of Mount Redoubt.
The Russian Orthodox Church (picture at right) is one of the most photographed buildings on the peninsula. It’s a tiny church, big enough for perhaps 30 people comfortably, with a small cemetery outside. We didn’t get to see much of the inside as there was a priest inside holding a prayer session, so we respectfully stepped back outside.
There was only one thing that nearly everyone we met agreed on: take a wildlife cruise. We were told by locals, tourists, a guy working at an auto parts store, and various others that a wildlife cruise is worth every penny. So we decided that a side trip to Seward to take a 5-hour cruise (complete with prime rib and salmon buffet) was on the agenda.
There are several options for cruising, all of which will come in around $100 per person, give or take. It’s a splurge, but the experience makes it one of the few things that we’d spend that kind of cash on. We spent 5 hours surrounded by porpoises, orcas, humpbacks, puffins, and sea lions.
But enough talk about the Kenai Peninsula. Here are tons and tons of pictures from the peninsula.