Kenai/Soldotna, Homer, Kodiak, Katmai National Park and Preserve
Day 1 Anchorage – Kenai/Soldotna
From your starting point in Anchorage, head south on the Seward Highway toward the (nearly) twin cities of Kenai and Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula, about 150 miles away. The famed Kenai River, which sees runs of thousands and thousands of salmon annually, attracts both anglers and bears to enjoy the plentiful runs. Hook up with a local guide to take you on a sportfishing trip, where you can fill your cooler and check out giant bruins feasting on the season’s bounty. Local visitor information will point you toward reputable local guides. When the day is done, enjoy some of the freshest seafood available from the grill of a local restaurant while sampling one of the many locally produced craft beers.
Day 2 Anchorage – Homer
The next day, pack up your car for the drive to Homer. Just another 60 miles west of Soldotna, Homer is located on the shores of Kachemak Bay, home to “barn door”-sized halibut and a wealth of other wildlife species. Bald eagles are frequently seen around town, and tour operators offer day trips to kayak or take a day cruise to spot beluga, minke, humpback, orcas and fin whales, among other marine life. Spend the night in Homer, and be sure to check out the many local art galleries and shops.
Day 3 Homer – Kodiak
In the morning, drive to the end of the famous Homer Spit and prepare to board an Alaska Marine Highway ferry bound for Kodiak. Your car can come along for the ride, or you can leave it parked in Homer. Kodiak is a small community easily navigable on foot and with a few cab rides and tours. The entire day will be spent at sea, and there will be plenty of opportunities to do some whale watching from the vessel. Ferry captains will notify passengers when wildlife sightings are at hand, and the day-long trip offers a nice respite from an otherwise busy schedule. Overnight in Kodiak.
Day 4 Kodiak
Today, head out with a guide for a day of bear viewing in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. You’ll shoot plenty of photos when you see Kodiak’s renowned bears, the largest brown bears in the world. A large male Kodiak bear might stand five feet high at the shoulder while still on all fours. On hind legs, it can reach 10 feet tall. Overnight in Kodiak.
Day 5 Katmai National Park and Preserve
For some of the most breathtaking wildlife viewing Alaska has to offer, few experiences top bear viewing in Katmai National Park and Preserve. Full and partial-day tours are available through a number of outfitters in Kodiak, and include a short Bush-plane flight to the Katmai coast. Once there, a professional guide will lead you as near as is possible (and safe) to watch massive grizzly bears fishing, playing and raising cubs. Specific tour locations vary throughout the season to ensure the best and most bountiful viewing opportunities. Tonight, fly or take the ferry back to Homer to complete your round-trip loop back to Anchorage and on home.