The Kenai Peninsula offers Alaska’s widest variety of activities in one of its most accessible regions. People come from all over the world to whale watch in Seward, see glaciers calve in Kenai Fjords National Park, fish for halibut in Homer, and explore the backcountry around Cooper’s Landing. The area provides locals and visitors with quintessential Alaska wilderness just a couple of hours from Anchorage.

The Kenai Peninsula consists of more than 16,000 square miles of rugged mountains, fjords, rivers, and forests. With two main highways and towns scattered along the roads, exploring the region is relatively easy compared to other parts of the state. More, the Kenai’s coastal climate is considerably less harsh than interior Alaska. Summer beckons with world-class hiking, kayaking, and fishing; the winter is great for backcountry skiing. Despite the convenience, the Kenai Peninsula actually gets fewer visitors than Denali National Park. If you must pick between the two, we recommend the Kenai.
 

Kenai Quick Facts

Location: Southern coast of Alaska, beginning 50 miles south of Anchorage
Size: 8,600 square miles, about the size of New Jersey
Access: The Seward Highway extends 130 miles from Anchorage to Seward
Geography: The glaciated Kenai Mountains cover the eastern side of the peninsula, with Prince William Sound to the east and Cook Inlet to the west. Kenai Fjords National Park is located on the southeastern side of the peninsula about 130 miles south of Anchorage
Top Towns: Homer and Seward
Things to Do: Hiking, rafting, fishing, Kenai Fjords National Park

 

Things to Do on the Kenai Peninsula

Kenai Fjords National Park

Located on the southeastern Kenai Peninsula, Kenai Fjords National Park is one of Alaska’s most beautiful places. Tall mountains and glaciers plummet into cold waters, and the park is full of life including whales, orcas, eagles, moose, and bears. On a par with Denali for scenery, the Kenai Fjords are a 2.5-hour drive from Anchorage. Boat tours and guided trips depart from Seward. 
Kenai Fjords Alaska

Halibut Fishing in Homer

The Homer “Spit” is a 4-mile long finger of sand extending from mainland Alaska into Kachemak Bay. The small town of Homer, known as the halibut capital of the world, is on the last paved road in Alaska and the terminus of the U.S. highway system. Homer has plenty of local shops and restaurants but the lifeblood of the town is fishing—it’s easy to hop on a local halibut charter to fill your freezer at home with fresh catch.


Harding Icefield

The Harding Icefield (a network of interconnected valley glaciers similar to an ice cap) covers a vast expanse of the Kenai Mountains. It’s one of the largest and most accessible icefields in North America, covering 700 square miles with more than 30 glaciers flowing from it. Just up the road from Seward, the 8.2-mile Harding Icefield Trail offers panoramic views of ice as far as the eye can see.
 

Rafting

A great way to see wildlife on the Kenai Peninsula and beat the crowds is a rafting trip. The Upper Kenai River near Cooper Landing is ideal for families and enjoying the stunning surroundings of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. For serious whitewater, Six Mile Creek with headwaters in the Chugach Mountains offers class IV and class V rapids.Rafting Kenai River

Salmon Fishing on the Kenai and Russian Rivers

They call it “combat fly fishing” for a reason: at the peak of the summer the salmon runs at the confluence of the Kenai and Russian Rivers literally are a battle zone. Even if you’re not fishing, it’s quite a scene: hundreds of fisherman line up shoulder to shoulder for a chance to cast a line into the salmon-rich waters. Protective clothing is recommended.

Harding Icefield Trail Kenai

Kenai Peninsula Hiking Trails

Alaska’s vastness can be intimidating, but the Kenai offers some of the best access to the outdoors in the state. Below are some of the top hiking trails on the Kenai Peninsula, from...
Denali National Park Alaska

Denali National Park

Denali is the crown jewel of the Alaska Range, which forms a boundary between Alaska’s harsh interior and the south-central coastal region. It's the highest mountain in North America...
Alaska Grizzly Bears

Alaska Outdoors

No place on Earth is bigger or wilder than the state of Alaska. For scale, 70 percent of America’s national park land and 85 percent of its wildlife refuge acreage lies within the state’s borders. Wrangell–St. Elias National Park...
Chasm Lake Colorado

10 Great Day Hikes from Denver

From ski bums to cross-country transplants who moved here for the outdoors, nobody loves their mountains more than Coloradans. Below are our picks for the best day hikes from Denver...
Lofoten Islands, Norway

Lofoten Islands, Norway

Norway’s Lofoten Islands are referred to as the Lofoten Wall because, quite literally, they are vertical rows of granite shooting out of the Arctic Sea. A number of colorful fishing villages hug the shoreline and a majority...
Nepal trekking

Nepal Adventure Travel Guide

From the moment you arrive in Nepal, you will know that you are in the big time. The legendary peaks that loom above—Everest, Lhotse, Kangchenjunga, Annapurna, Manaslu—carry a gravity and sense of history unmatched...
Hiking

Hiking and Backpacking Gear Reviews

Of all the outdoor activities we cover here at Switchback Travel, hiking and backpacking are two of the dearest to our hearts. They are some of the easiest ways to get outdoors for people...
Best Down Jacket

Best Down Jackets of 2017

Nothing beats a great down jacket, whether it’s for causal use or tearing around the backcountry. Below we break down the best down jackets of 2017, including the top down sweaters, ultralights, and winter down jackets. You’ll find a healthy range of...
Full-Frame Camera

Best Full-Frame Cameras of 2017

Full-frame cameras are the best of the best—they have the largest sensors, the most megapixels, the highest quality components, and lenses that are unmatched by any other class of camera. Despite the larger size...
Rain Jacket

Best Rain Jackets of 2017

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we know a thing or two about rain. From months of daily drizzle to heavy downpour in the mountains, we’re acutely aware of the benefits of a quality waterproof and breathable jacket. The rain jackets for men and women...
Hiking Boots

Best Hiking Boots of 2017

Hiking boots are critical to your comfort and performance on the trail, but this no longer means a stiff and burly model that will weigh you down. The trend is toward lighter materials that still offer decent support, and waterproof boots...
Camping Tents

Best Camping Tents of 2017

Spacious, bulky and feature-rich, tents for camping are made for a relatively luxurious experience in the outdoors. These behemoths offer plenty of room to set up cots or even chairs and a table for card games on a rainy day...