Wildlife Viewing From Anchorage to Kodiak
Your five-day wildlife adventure kicks off with world-class fishing on the Kenai Peninsula, then winds into Homer to behold eagles, whales, and sea otters, and wraps up in Katmai National Park and Preserve for a close-up view of brown bears.
From your starting point in Anchorage, head south on the Seward Highway toward the cities of Kenai and Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula, 150 miles away. About an hour into your drive, make a stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center for up-close views of black bears, brown bears, wolves, moose, and other wildlife.
Both Kenai and Soldotna offer great access to the famed Kenai River and its teeming runs of sockeye (red) salmon. Hire a local guide to take you sportfishing, where you can fill your cooler and maybe even see giant bruins that are intent on enjoying the river’s bounty too. Or, take a hike and stop at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Soldotna to learn about the area's wildlife including moose, wolves, caribou, lynx, and more. When the day is done, enjoy just-caught seafood from the grill of a local restaurant while sampling one of the many locally produced craft beers.
Day 2: Soldotna to Homer
Pack up your car for the drive to Homer, another 75 miles south of Soldotna. Homer is located on the shores of Kachemak Bay, home to “barn door” halibut (so named because they’re as big as a barn door) and a wealth of other wildlife species. Bald eagles are frequently seen around town, and tour operators offer guided kayak or day cruises for a chance to spot humpback whales, orcas, sea otters, seabirds, and other marine life. End the day by checking out the many locally owned art galleries and shops on the 4.5-mile Homer Spit, a narrow finger of land that reaches into Kachemak Bay.
Day 3: Homer to Kodiak
In the morning, drive to the end of the Homer Spit and board an Alaska Marine Highway ferry bound for Kodiak. The ferry can accommodate vehicles, or leave your car parked in Homer. The journey to Kodiak takes 11 hours, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities for whale watching and sightseeing along the way. Spend the night in Kodiak.
Day 4: Kodiak
It’s time to search for bears. You have two options: either book a guided van tour of the island, which doesn’t guarantee brown bears but almost always gets you a few sightings anyway; or take a guided trip into the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Kodiak’s renowned brown bears are their own distinct subspecies and can stand up to 10 feet tall on their hind legs. Overnight in Kodiak.
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 possible 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.
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