Kachemak Bay State Park and State Wilderness Park

Kachemak Bay State Park and State Wilderness Park

Accessible only by boat or airplane, this park features outstanding scenic backdrops in a remote wilderness

Just a short hop from Homer is Alaska's first state park and only designated wilderness park. Kachemak Bay State Park, along with the adjoining Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park to the south, contains almost 400,000 acres of mountains, glaciers, forests and ocean.

History

Believed to be descended from the Chugach Eskimo, the indigenous inhabitants of this area harvested sustenance from Kachemak Bay’s diverse riches including fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds. By the time of European exploration, the area was the territory of the Dena’ina Athabascans. When Kachemak Bay State Park was designated in June 1970, it became Alaska’s very first state park.

Ecosystem

From the more than 300,000-square-mile Harding Ice Field and 4,000-foot glacial peaks to lush forests of spruce, moss and shoulder-high devil's club, the beauty of the parks is unparalleled. The shoreline is a ragged series of protected coves, bays and lagoons where intertidal zones are alive with starfish, crabs and other marine life. The gravel beaches have long been favorites among Homer clam diggers.

Wildlife

Kachemak Bay is a critical habitat area, supporting many species of marine life. Therefore, wildlife is plentiful in this area. The rich lagoons and waters just offshore attract whales, sea otters, seals, dolphins and impressive salmon runs. The seashore and tidal marshes are teaming with life; mollusks, anthropoids and sea stars are just a few species that can be seen at low tide. In many rivers and streams there are impressive runs of salmon, in particular kings, which gather in Halibut Cove Lagoon in May and June and pinks, which spawn up Humpy Creek in July and August. Birders are particularly attracted to the area by a wide variety of sea birds, including horned and tufted puffins, eagles, pigeon guillemots, marbled murrelets and common murres. Gull Island near Halibut Cove is a rookery for more than 12,000 seabirds, especially puffins.

Activities

Many visitors escape into the wilderness for a few days by boating, kayaking or hiking to such scenic areas as Grewing Glacier, Poot Peak, China Poot Bay, Humpy Creek, Halibut Cove Lagoon, Tutka Bay and Sadie Cove. Others reserve a public-use cabin or book a week at a number of wilderness lodges in and around the park. Opportunities to camp and hike are excellent through the park’s forests and mountains and along the shore. Above timberline, skiers and hikers will find glaciers and snowfields stretching for miles.

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