Best adventure destination Alaska, Things to do Kenai Peninsula
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The Kenai Peninsula was everything I’d dreamed it’d be and despite seeing all the major destinations in Alaska, somehow the Kenai Peninsula remains to be my favorite. Kenai is basically the adventure capital of Alaska, there’s just so much to hike, bike, camp, and explore. Read on to find out the most epic things to do and why the Kenai Peninsula is an absolute must on your next trip in Alaska.

I distinctly remember the moments of planning our trip to Alaska where I became giddy with excitement about how many epic things there were to do on the the Kenai Peninsula. It felt like a dream come true to my outdoor adventure obsesssed self. There were endless amounts of trails to hike, and not just any trails. These were the kinds of hikes that were so beautiful they’d be seared into your memory forever. I knew from the moment I found out about the Kenai Peninsula that there would never be enough time to explore all there is do there…but we gave it a pretty good shot.

On our road trip to/from Alaska, we got to spend 10 days on the Kenai Peninsula and while many people don’t have that much time on their Alaska trip, I would highly recommend making nearly that much time to explore this area of Alaska, especially if you love the outdoors and small town culture.

Like most of Alaska, what’s incredible about the Kenai Peninsula is how diverse everything is. You can jump between the mountains of Girdwood, to glaciers of Portage Pass, to the forests of Cooper Landing, to Kenai Lake, and beaches of Homer all within a 2 hour radius.

Have I convinced you to visit yet? Good. And if I haven’t yet, let me tell you that the Kenai Peninsula was easily our favorite destination in all of Alaska which is saying a lot because the Last Frontier is pretty much amazing wherever you go.

Enough rambling here’s the beta…

Map of Adventures + Activities on Kenai Peninsula 

I’ve included a map of all the locations, adventures, restaurants, and campgrounds/accommodation I recommend for your convenience.

Kenai Peninsula: Tips Before You Go

How Much Time Do I Need?

If you don’t have 10 days available on your Alaska Itinerary, the Kenai Peninsula is still worthy visiting. If you fly into Anchorage it’s a pretty short drive to get onto the Kenai Peninsula and even if only make it as far as Turnagain Pass, it’s worth the trip.

Should I Camp?

Alaska as a whole is really best experienced by camping. It can be tent camping, RVing, or even backcountry camping, but really, lodges, hotels, and B&Bs aren’t really going to put you in as scenic locations plus, campgrounds tend to be closer to the recommended activities for the day.

That being said, at the bottom of this post you can find more recommended lodges, hotels, and B&Bs if you really aren’t down to camp. On this trip we chose to RV camp since we decided to drive up to Alaska on our road trip from San Diego however going back in the future, I think I would choose to just backpack and hop between long distance backpacking trails that are on my Alaska Bucket List.

Without further ado, here are are…

10 radical, epic, unforgettable things you must do on the Kenai Peninsula:

Ordered from north to south

1 | Explore the scenic drive to Turnagain Pass

The first thing you will reach after officially entering the peninsula and passing the “Welcome to the Kenai Peninsula” sign is the highest point of the scenic Seward Highway. If you didn’t get enough beautiful views along Turnagain Arm, don’t worry because once again the drive is incredible.

Turnagain Pass rest area, things to do Kenai Peninsula, Alaska Adventure destination
Views from the Turnagain Pass rest area
Photo credit and copyright: Alaska.org

Driving up Turnagain Pass isn’t a very steep drive but it winds its way through a valley of lush green mountainsides all of which are snow capped. At the top of the pass there are two great rest areas with lots of space, restrooms, picnic tables and even access to summer/cross country skiing trails.

If you are super short on time in Alaska, I still recommend driving to this point because the views along the way are just that incredible. RVers and Vanlifers can easily choose to overnight park at this rest area if they want and if you’re looking for an easy stroll, you can find something here.

2 | Ride the Sixmile Trail bike path

As you descend from Turnagain Pass, you’ll soon reach the start of an awesome bike path that runs from mile marker 63.7 (mile markers on this highway are distance from Anchorage) and ends at the Canyon Creek rest area at mile 70 which is also the junction for the town of Hope.

The bike path is even greater way to experience the stunning scenery of the Seward Highway. The paved trail, which runs parallel to the road, has a few hills but isn’t super steep and is a perfect outdoor activity for the whole family. While you could totally ride it point to point, we enjoyed riding it it as far as we wanted and then backtracked the way we came.

There are two places I’d recommend parking to ride this:

  • The first is at the rest area right by Hope Junction. This hard to miss pullout is at mile marker 70. This is where we started from and it’s slightly flatter to ride on this side.
  • The other option is to camp at Granite Creek Campground. This campground sits right on the bike path and is a really nice place to spend the night.

3 | Backpack or Mountain Bike Johnson Pass

At the very same parking lot/pullout that the Sixmile Trail starts from you can also embark on one of Alaska greatest long distance trails, Johnson Trail. While I did not personally have time in my trip to enjoy the 23 mile hike or bike ride, upon discovering the trail, I instantly wished I had been able to make time for it.

Johnson Pass trail, Alaska, Kenai Peninsula
A beautiful lake near the summit of Johnson Pass
Photo credit: Picasa
Photo copyright: Susan Long
Via Alaska.org

Being only a short 23 miles, the trek can easily be made on a one night backpacking trip. The trail is 23 miles point to point however many choose to just start from the north access, hike to the top of the pass 11 miles in, spend the night at the scenic Bench and Johnson alpine lakes, then turn back the way they came to avoid coordinating car shuttles.

What’s really cool about this trail is how much beautiful scenery you get to hike through and there is only 1,000 feet of elevation gain total. This makes it a great family friendly backpacking trip.

Johnson Pass trail, Alaska, Kenai Peninsula
Mountain bikers on the Johnson Pass Trail
Photo credit and copyright: BeyondCrowds.com

Mountain bikers can easily finish this trail in a day and it isn’t a very challenging trail. In fact, even kids who are strong bikers will be able to navigate the mostly smooth, occasionally rooty sections of Johnson Pass.

If you thru hike or bike it, you will have to think about car shuttles. If you have a friend with another car you can leave a car on one end and park on the other end or you can simply pay for a hiker shuttle like Wildman’s Shuttles for example.

The trail is usually snow free by mid to late June through late September or early October. Check trail conditions here.

4 | Explore Historic Hope

Visiting Hope is like traveling back in time. It’s the very definition of Alaska’s motto, The Last Frontier, it feels like I’m amidst a real gold mining town.

Hope lies in the northwest corner of the Kenai but is accessed via a 30 minute detour from the Seward Highway.

Hope is an incredibly beautiful town that will take you by surprise with its lush geeenry, mellow town vibe, and old fashioned buildings. People’s backyards are adorned with pretty flowers, huge trees, and the town backs to the gorgeous inlet of the Turnagain Arm.

In Hope there’s not a lot to do besides spending a few hours wandering the deserted streets, admiring the rustic buildings, grabbing coffee at GroundsForHope, diddle daddling in the bookstore, wandering the shores, and grabbing a drink/bite to eat at Seaview Cafe and Bar.

Hope, Kenai Peninsula, things to do

Hope has 3 great trails from town:

  • Hope Point: distance round trip: 7.5 miles, elevation gain 3441 feet
  • Gull Rock: distance round trip: 11 miles, elevation gain 2539 feet
  • Turnagain Arm Trail: distance round trip: 3.8 miles, elevation gain 1338 feet

Hope is most well known for being the start/end point of the popular thru hike/mountain bike ride of Resurrection Pass. See #8 below for details

Being a historic gold mining town, going gold panning is all the rage. The Hope and Sunrise Museum is a great place to start if you are interested in the town’s gold mining history or just want to give gold mining a try. If you’ve been gold panning before, it’s definitely not a necessity to check out. The magic of Hope is the town itself.

The campground in town, Seaview RV Park, was absolutely stunning and while normally we’re hesitant to pay for campgrounds in the free-camping haven of Kenai, we were very glad we chose to stay at the oceanfront RV Park so we could spend the morning and evening on the coast and walk through the miniature downtown right from our door.

If you are an avid “boondocker” or just want a cheap campground, there was great free spot nestled in the trees to camp on the way into Hope however this isn’t recommended to RVers. It’s only a couple hundred foot dirt road to get to the riverside camping area but the road had very large ruts and even we, who are pretty worry free when it comes to dirt roads, decided against driving down there.  Click here to get directions or input these coordinates into your GPS (60.8288900, -149.4245300).

Personally, I’d highly recommend visiting Hope for just one night and I really do think the campground is worth staying at. One night gives you just the right amount of time to explore the beach, the town, and squeeze in a hike if you want. Or who knows, you might even be interested in tackling the 37 mile resurrection pass and you can take off from there.

5 | Free camp near Moose Pass

Arriving on the Kenai Peninsula on a Saturday night with the weekend warriors of Anchorage swarming the shores, it was really hard to find a decent campsite that wasn’t already full. With the help of the iOverander app, we stumbled upon one of the most beautiful free campsites we’ve ever been to.

This camping spot is basically a large dirt cul-de-sac that’s surrounded by the forest and is also the boat launch to Upper Trail Lake. The dirt area can hold a couple dozen RVs and tent campers can make a great campsite in the trees. Some spots are waterfront and you get lake views from your site. If you get there early in the weekend you’ll get the better spots, though even if you’re just looking for a place to crash between adventures the other spots are still very close to the beautiful lake. Note: there are no amenities here.

Getting there:

To get there, click here or input these coordinates into your GPS (60.5029800, -149.3685500). It’s really easy to get there and is right before the small town of Moose Pass on the road to Seward. It’s only one turn but it’s easy to miss, just keep an eye out for where the guardrail starts/ends.

6 | Hike the Exit Glacier

While the majority of Kenai Fjords NP is only accessible by water, the Exit Glacier is the single exeption. Just north of Seward, Kenai Fjords National Park can be reached by car and you can explore the main attraction, the Exit Glacier.

Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, Kenai Peninsula
The stunning crevasses of the glacier make the ice magnificently blue. It’s a sight you will never forget!

While glaciers are in abundance in Alaska, I found this glacier to be the most stunning one yet mostly due to the great trails that brought you up close and personal no matter your experience level and for free.

All trails begin from the visitor center, which p.s. you can grab a junior ranger booklet for you kids at. Beginner hikers can explore the mostly paved trails at the base of the glacier for up to a 2 mile hike with no elevation gain.

Experienced hikers will be stoked to hear that the Harding Icefeild Trail is one of the greatest hikes in all of Alaska. The Harding Icefield Trail, or HIT as the rangers call it, ascends the cliff that runs adjacent to the glacier flow. There are 3 different lookouts on the trail and all have stunning views and can be great turnaround points:

  • Marmot Meadows (4 miles round trip)
  • Top of the Cliff (6 miles round trip)
  • End of the Trail (8 miles round trip).
Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, Kenai Peninsula

The trail is steep and gains more than 3,000 feet of elevation over the full 8 mile hike but the views are worth it. The End of the Trail is spectacular and if the full trail is melted out, I encourage the full 8 mile trip. If there’s too much snow, the other lookouts are stil great.

7 | Optional: Camp in Seward

Personally I did not like Seward at all, in fact we left only 10 minutes after we got there. It was just too crowded and not scenic enough.

Just because I don’t like Seward doesn’t mean you won’t like Seward because clearly there are hundreds of people from Anchorage who love going to Seward every weekend.

Seward is great for social butterflies. It’s a very extraverted town with lots of events going year round. The campgrounds are all within walking distance of Main Street however the campgrounds aren’t exactly a natural setting. The campgrounds are waterfront, but they’re basically just parking spots and you’ll be right next to neighbors.

Seward camping, Golden Circle, Alaska, Complete Guide
Waterfront camping in Seward
Photo via Trip Advisor

The town of Seward is beautiful but to me, it doesn’t compare to Haines, Skagway, or Valdez. There are some great trails from town like Mount Marathon, Lowell Canyon, Skyline Trail, Alice Mountain, and the many short + long distance trails of Caines Head State Recreation Area.

The biggest draw of Seward has to be the kayaking trip in Kenai Fjords National Park. The overnight kayaking excursion to Miller’s Landing was high on my Alaska Bucket List and it looked so epic. I wanted to do this excursion so bad but unfortunately, it just wasn’t within our budget on this Alaska trip. On my next Alaska trip, it will definitely be a priority and I highly recommend others to take on the adventure if it’s within their price range. Click here to find Kayaking excursion into Kenai Fjords National Park.

Kayaking kenai fjord from Seward, Alaska, Kenai Peninsula
Kayaking into Kenai Fjords National Park is bucket list experience I highly recommend
Photo credit: Liquid Adventures

Seward offers great opportunities for fishing. Besides deep sea fishing for halibut, rock fish, and salmon, another traveler we met told us about how great snag fishing is in Seward. Head down Nash Road and turn into the 2nd campground. It’s $10 per person and you literally line up with a bunch of other fishermen/women and snag yourself some salmon. If you don’t have gear, go into town to get yourself boots and gear. They made it sound like you don’t need much experience, just the right gear.

8 | Backpack or Mountain Bike Resurrection Pass Trail

Much like Johnson Pass, Resurrection Pass is a popular point to point trail for hikers and mountain bikers however this trail is more difficult than Johnson Pass. The north access of this 39-mile trail is located in Hope and the south access is just 5 minutes west of Russian River Campground (see number 9). The Resurrection Pass Trail is not super technical but has more than 4,000 feet of elevation gain all of which you have to descend on the other side of the pass.

The pass is hiked/biked both ways. If you take the trail north to south, it’s a more gradual ascent, and from south to north the trail is much steeper.

Photos shown above via MTBProject.com

While strong mountain bikers may be able to ride the whole trail in 1 day, hikers will no doubt have to camp at least 1 nights on the pass. On the trail there are 19 different campsites you can stay at plus there are 8 reservable cabins you could choose to stay at. All the campsites are first come first serve but if all the sites are full in mid summer, you are allowed to camp wherever. Cabins must be reserved ahead of time and like most Alaska huts, they get booked early on. Click here to search for huts.

Just like Johnson Pass, you may need to pay for a shuttle if you don’t have a friend with a second car to park on one end. Wildman’s Shuttles also offer services for these two trailheads.

Mid June through September are often snow free to hike or bike this trail. See current trail conditions here.

9 | Adventure on the Russian River

The Russian River trailhead is the starting point to multiple different adventures in the forests of Cooper Landing.

The most popular hike in the area is Russian River Falls, an easy 5 mile roundtrip hike that takes you not to the most spectacular waterfall but what made this experience unforgettable for us was watching the salmon run. Alaska is famous for the salmon runs but actually seeing it in real life blew us away. There were hundreds of salmon! Because of that, this hike probably isn’t that sepctalur in the winter or mid summer.

Just a couple hundred yards further down from Russian River Falls is a popular salmon, trout, and fly fishing spot. Having hiked this on the first day of legal salmon fishing, the place was packed and for a good reason. People were reeling in salmon by the minute.

Whether you want to go fish or just see the falls, many people choose to mountain bike this trail. It’s barely considered mountain biking as the trial is so smooth and many of the fishermen choose to ride for the ease of hauling their gear in and out.

If you are up for a longer trail (bike or hike), head left across the bridge before you reach Russian River Falls and take the trail to Upper and/or Lower Russian River Lake. The trail is 3 miles to the lower lake which isn’t much further than the falls, is 12 miles to the upper lake, which can easily be biked out and back in 1 day, or you can thru bike the full 22 miles to Snug Harbor Road and bike back on the highway.

Camping right at the trailhead at Russian River Campground is awesome however it’s very popular and often full. In that case you can also camp at Cooper Creek campground just five minutes further east.

10 | Explore Skilak Lake Road

Skilak road seems to be one of the few remaining hidden gems on the Kenai peninsula. This 19 mile dirt road runs west-east, parallel to the Sterling Highway by Cooper Landing, and contains a dozen or so great trails and secluded camping. Though dirt, the road is well maintained for any vehicle but only open from May to November.

Along Skilak Lake road you’ll find a dozen trailheads that can take you to things like:

  • The summit of Bear Mountain (2 miles roundtrip, very steep)
  • Along the Kenai River (10 miles roundtrip, mostly flat)
  • Skilak Lake Lookout (5 miles roundtrip, moderately steep) which takes you to an incredible lookout of a turquoise blue lake that reminded us of Jasper National Park without the crowds. Click here to check out the trails in the area.
Skilak Lake lookout, Kenai Peninsula, things to do
The incredible blue waters as seen from Skilak Lake Lookout

In addition, the road contains a few secluded, peaceful campgrounds: Hidden Lake Campground, Upper Skilak campground, Lower Skilak campgrounds (which is a free campground), and Lower Ohmer Lake Campground (also free). There’s even a dump station at mile 11.7 from the east junction and mile 7.3 from the west junction.

Note: the mosquitos can get really bad here, bring bug spray.

11 | Camp on The Spit + Explore Homer

Homer has been on my radar ever since Backpacker Magazine included it among its top 10 Trail Towns of 2018. Considering I loved 5 of the other towns included in the roundup, I thought I really oughta give Homer a shot, though I was doubtful I’d like given that I wasn’t much of a beach person.

Homer is also home to The Spit, a renowned camping spot that every Alaskan we talked to recommended to us. Even still, we couldn’t decide if it was worth the drive to go all the way to Homer for this camping experience. People said it’s amazing but we wanted to know why it was amazing. 

Homer, Alaska, things to do Kenai Peninsula
We loved being right on the water at Homer Spit Campground so we could hang out on the beach all day

Though I doubted whether Homer would be as amazing as they say, let me tell you it is. Being a beach town, it’s very unique among Alaska ecosystems. Camping on The Spit provides oceanfront access and views whilst being surrounded by mountains across the bay.

Homer is also an amazing place for foodies. Filled with world famous seafood, great bakeries, a few micro-breweries, and a fantastic farmers market on Wednesdays from 2pm-5pm and Saturdays from 10am-3pm in the summer, there is surely something to delight your taste buds. Within the town of Homer, before you head out onto The Spit, there are some great restaurants like Fat Olive’s, Captain Coffee Roasting Co, and Grace Ridge Brewing Co however we preferred to eat out on The Spit for the convenience of walking to eat.

There are multiple different RV Parks/campgrounds to choose from on the Spit. All of them are very pretty, but if you come all the way to Homer I highly recommend the Homer Spit Campground at the end of the road so that you can be within walking distance of eateries like Coal Tree Coffee and Tea, Flagship Creamery, Salty Dawg Saloon, the fish markets, shopping, and the Little Mermaid restaurant.

Homer, Alaska, things to do Kenai Peninsula
While there are many campground to choose for, the Homer Spit Campground is no doubt the best because of it’s proximity to town, great facilities, and beautiful waterfront views

Homer Spit campground also has literally the absolute best campground showers in ALL of Alaska (no joke) plus a laundry room and free, fast WiFi. We could’ve stayed here for days on end if we had the time!

Excursions are all the rave in Alaska and while I personally don’t think most are worth the money, I highly recommend splurging to take a fishing charter here. After all, Homer is the Halibut capital of the world! It seems to be a super unique and personal experience, plus you’ll walk away with not only memories, but also delicious, wild Alaskan fish.

Homer, things to do Kenai Peninsula, Alaska Adventure destination
There’s a reason dozens of boats can be seen cruising the coast of The Spit all day long

In addition, I would highly recommend taking a water taxi/boat charter across the bay to hike one of the many established trails in Kachemak Bay. Kachemak Bay is secluded and contains some mind blowing trails to alpine lakes and beautiful summits. If you choose to do so, you can even camp in the bay at one of the 15 established campgrounds, at a backcountry campsite, or at a reservable public use cabin. Some of the most popular smaller bays of Kachemak Bay are Halibut Cove, Soldovia, Eldred Passage, Sadie Cove, and more. Click here for water taxi services and click here to find the right trail for you.

4 Things to Do on the Way to The Kenai Peninsula:

Unless you are traveling by ferry along the Alaska Marine Highway, the only way to get to the Kenai peninsula is by driving the Seward Highway which starts from Anchorage, runs along the stunning coastal waters of Turnagain Arm, goes past Girdwood and Alyeska Ski Resort, and then turns west upon reaching the junction for Whitter.

Along the scenic stretch of highway there are SOOOOO MANY epic things to do. While this section is not technically a part of the Kenai Peninsula, it’d be a crime to not stop and enjoy the hikes, views, and cute towns along the Seward Highway on your way to the Kenai Peninsula.

12 | Hike Portage Pass

As the road turns south, just before reaching the Kenai Peninsula, you’ll see the hard to miss junction for Whittier.  Whittier itself is not much of a destination, merely a busy port along the Alaska Marine Highway.  The gem is Portage Pass on the road to Whittier.

Portage Pass, things to do Kenai Peninsula, Alaska Adventure destination
Views of the coastal port of Whittier from the summit of Portage Pass

Portage Pass is stunning bubble of glacial wonders that’s only 5 miles away from the Seward Highway.  There are two popular access points to the beauty of the area, one being the Portage Pass trailhead on the east side and one being the location of Visitor Center and the port for glacier cruises on the west side.  The two side of the lake are separated by a 2.5 mile long, single lane tunnel to get through the mountain that juts into Portage Lake.

The tunnel requires a little bit of planning in your schedule since they alternate traffic between the two sides every 30 minutes.  Click here to see the current schedule for the tunnel.

If one of the most rewarding, short hikes in Alaska sounds appealing to you, you definitely have to cross the tunnel and hike to Portage Pass and Portage Lake from the Portage Trailhead.  The trailhead is impossible to miss, it’s the first trailhead shown on the right side of the highway after passing through the tunnel.

Portage Pass, things to do Kenai Peninsula, Alaska Adventure destination
Admiring the beautiful glacier up close from Portage Lake, 2 miles from the trailhead

The well marked national forest trail is steep but only for 1 mile before you reach the summit of Portage Pass.  From Portage you get incredible views in all directions of the the glacier, the lake beneath it, green mountains all around, and perhaps the best view, looking down at the sea toward Whittier with more mountains surrounding.

If you choose to do so, you can continue one more mile down to Portage Lake.  While 2 miles isn’t much for even inexperienced hikers, keep in mind that you will have to descend down to the glacial lake which means you’ll have to do one more steep ascent to return the way you came.  If you’ve got fresh legs then it’s absolutely worth heading down, it only adds 2 more miles after all, to sit by the icy blue waters and relax on the rocky shore.  If it’s really hot outside you could even cool down with a polar plunge.

We decided to do this hike as a family and Tatiana, being only 8 years old and not very excited to hike up hills, stayed back at Portage Pass and waited for us.  The views from above are probably better than at the lake so it’s really up to if you want to hike more or not.

13 | Hike Byron Glacier

Before crossing the tunnel along Portage Glacier Access Road, you will see large signs for Byron Glacier and Begich Boggs Visitor Center.  This is the an alternative or an addition to hiking Portage Pass.

Byron Glacier begins as an established trail from its trailhead and continues with little elevation gain for .8 miles where the designated trail then ends.  From here, there are dozens of opportunities.  You can hike further to the edge of the glacier which takes about an hour to get to, you can head up the left ridge for views of Portage, continue to Byron Peak, and more. The Outbound gives a pretty good description of this adventure, see it by clicking here.

Byron Glacier, things to do Kenai Peninsula, Alaska Adventure destination
View of Byron Glacier from afar. The trails will take you right to the base of the ice and if you choose, up to the summits nearby

We visited Portage Pass toward the end of our trip and were crunched on time so we chose to do the Portage Glacier hike over Byron. I really do think the Portage Glacier hike is a can’t-miss in Alaska but Byron is more fitting if you want a full day adventure or want to get off the beaten path away for the crowds.  

14 | Bike the Trail of Blue Ice

On the way to or from the Portage Pass tunnel, you’ll drive along a beautiful moraine-filled river where you’ll see the pretty path, the Trail of Blue Ice. Much like Sixmile Trail, riding the ike path is a great way to slow down and take in the scenery especially if you want an easy, non-strenuous adventure. 
This 5 mile mostly paved path runs from the initial junction at Moose Flats Day Use area all the way to Portage Lake and the Visitor Center with practically no elevation change.

Trail of Blue Ice, things to do Kenai Peninsula, Alaska Adventure destination
Beautiful views like this gives the path it’s name
Photo credit and copyright: OurHomeHas6Wheels.com

If you have time on your itinerary, I recommend camping on the scenic river so you can access the path from camp.  There are 3 different national forest campgrounds to choose from on this stretch so you can access the Trail of Blue Ice:

  • Five Fingers Campground: A walk-in, tent only campsite, with no amenities
  • Black Bear Creek Campground: A tent or camper only campground (no RVS) with 13 sites, the usual national forest aminites, and no hookups
  • Williwaw Campground: A tent or RV campground suitable for most any size rig, 60 paved sites, usual amenities, and no hookups

15 | Girdwood

Finally, you absolutely cannot miss one of our favorite towns in Alaska, Girdwood.  Girdwood is a popular, and the only, ski town near Anchorage, and let’s be honest, it’s hard not to like a ski town.  The good vibes, the outdoor culture, the great breweries, the hiking, biking, camping, and exploring.  It’s why I love Breckenridge and Park City, Crested Butte, Telluride, and Mammoth. Girdwood is just like the rest of them only better because come on, it’s Alaska, the mountains really don’t get much better anywhere else in the world.

Girdwood has a little bit of something for everyone. There are easy hikes like Winner Creek and harder ones where you can stay at awesome backcountry huts.  There’s a sick brewery with a delicious new food truck in the parking lot every day.  There’s a downhill bike park but also a bike path. Take your pick, it’s all amazing.

Click here to check out 5 awesome things to do in our favorite town in Alaska (blog coming soon).

Where to Stay: Camping + Accommodation

The Kenai Peninsula, and Alaska as a whole, is best experienced by camping. On our 3 week trip through Alaska we found some great and not-so-great campgrounds. Here are my top recommendations for camping as well as accommodation. We did not stay at these hotels/lodges personally but when we passed through the areas and saw each place, we could tell if it was the kind of place we’d want to stay at:

Camping

  • Turnagain Pass Rest area: Beautiful views and great place to crash late at night. No tents.
  • Russian River Campground: Access to hike/bike trail to the falls, lakes, or fishing
  • Seward Municipal Campgrounds: Crowded but close to trails, downtown, and excursions of the town of Seward. Paid showers and dump station. Optional hookups at some campgrounds.
  • Moose Pass free camping: As mentioned, beautiful scenery. No amenities. Close drive to Exit Glacier.
  • Cooper Creek Campground: Great campground if the popular Russian River campground is already full. It’s a 5 minute drive further west but good if you want to access that trailhead. In my opinion it’s also prettier.
  • Granite Creek Campground: Access to the Sixmile bike path
  • Homer Spit Campground: Iconic camping spot in Alaska. Walking distance from town. Free wifi and showers plus laundry facilities and optional hookups.
  • Upper Skilak Lake Campground: Located in a pretty forest with typical National Forest amenities. Close to great hikes on Skilak Lake Road.
  • Seaview RV Park: Waterfront RV and tent campground with optional electricity hookups within walking stance of main street in Hope

Hotels/Lodges

Summit Lake Lodge: Lakefront mountain lodge with a scenic views, a great restaurant, and more luxury than most lodges nearby. Close proximity to Cooper Landing and Skilake Road.

Gwin’s Lodge: Just a few minutes from Russian River. Local feel and cozy vibe. Famous roadhouse restaurant/bar and excursions offered from the lodge.

Otter Beach Lodges: This is one of the few accommodations actually on The Spit. Within walking distance of restaurants on the Spit. Oceanfront.

Showers and Laundry

Throughout the Kenai Peninsula there are laundromats that also have paid showers. This can be really helpful for when you just need to to get cleaned up for another week off grid. Here are a few easy places to stop along the way if you really need to:

  • Wash Out Laundromat, Soldotna: Place to get showers and laundry between Cooper Landing and Soldotna
  • Washboard, Homer: If you’re not staying at a campground in Homer, this is another option for showers and laundry. It’s right along the highway right before you head onto The Spit
  • The Laundromat, Girdwood: Girdwood is right on the way to the Kenai Peninsula.

Related blogs:

  • Complete Guide to Denali (COMING SOON)
  • Driving the Alcan Highway (COMING SOON)
  • What to do on the Golden Circle: Carcross, Skagway, and Haines (COMING SOON)

Hope you have an incredible trip to the Kenai Peninsula! If you have any questions about visiting, let us know in the comments section below!

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