The Kenai Peninsula‘s relatively extensive road system means easy access to Alaska-size adventures. This seven-day driving itinerary includes bear-viewing, zip-lining, kayaking, and a fly-in glacier mushing trip with dogs from the kennel of an Iditarod champion.
Day 1 Anchorage to Seward
Rent a car and make the 125-mile drive south from Anchorage to the popular port town of Seward. If you reached Southcentral Alaska by cruise ship, Seward might actually be your first port of arrival. It‘s also the site of your first Alaska adventure, a helicopter ride to a nearby glacier, where you‘ll get to ride in a dog sled pulled by dogs from the kennel of an Iditarod champion.
Day 2 Seward
Choose from two of Seward‘s best adventures: Either make the short drive to nearby Exit Glacier Nature Center for a challenging, full-day hike up to the Harding Icefield, a giant sheet of ice that spawns about forty glaciers; or book a full-day sightseeing cruise or kayaking tour into Kenai Fjords National Park, where you have great chances of seeing wildlife like sea otters, puffins, sea lions, kittiwakes, humpback whales, orcas, seals and more. Wrap up the evening by going ziplining.
Day 3 Hope and Cooper Landing
The tiny town of Hope, once a booming mining community, is located about 75 miles out of Seward. Here, you‘ll find opportunities for gold panning and Alaska‘s finest guided class IV and class V rafting on Six Mile Creek. If you want a milder adventure, make the 50-mile drive to Cooper Landing instead. Cooper Landing offers scenic floats on the Kenai River, excellent guided freshwater fishing, mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, or the famed shoulder-to-shoulder “combat fishing” on the Russian River.
Day 4 Sterling and Soldotna
Head south to the small roadside community of Sterling, about 80 miles south of Hope. Canoe fans from all over the world come here to start their trip along the Swanson River Canoe Route, which covers 80 miles of paddling and portages. Or, if you still have salmon fever, continue another 10 miles to Soldotna, where you can fish from plentiful boardwalks along the world-famous Kenai River or charter a guide to take you on a river float trip in search of a new world-record king salmon.
Day 5 Homer
Drive another 75 miles of scenic Alaska highway to Homer, which offers panoramic views of Kachemak Bay State Park and the Homer Spit, a narrow arm of land that extends 4.5 miles into the water. The Spit is lined with some of the state‘s best art galleries, gift shops and restaurants; but save that for the evening. First, charter a flightseeing trip to view massive brown bears in the wild at any of several nearby locations.
Day 6 Across the Bay
From Homer, board a water taxi and explore the hiking trails “across the bay” in Kachemak Bay State Park and the adjoining Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park. Guided natural history tours and kayaking trips are also available. Overnight in a private lodge perched on the shoreline, or in an isolated seaside community like Halibut Cove or Seldovia.
Day 7 Homer to Anchorage
It‘s time for the five-hour, 220-mile drive back north to Anchorage. Even the locals never tire of driving the one highway that links the two towns; keep an eye out for bore tides and beluga whales in the water, and wild mountain goats and Dall sheep in the roadside cliffs.
If you have another day to spend, make the 45-mile drive from Anchorage to Eklutna Lake State Recreation Area. Activities here include kayaking the enormous glacier-fed lake, hiking, or bicycling and ATV riding on the lakeside trails.