Known as “Alaska’s Playground,” the Kenai Peninsula offers pristine forests, turquoise rivers, and rugged coastline, and is the backdrop for many iconic Alaska adventures. On this luxury Alaska vacation, Take the opportunity to become part of the Alaska wilderness at intimate, remote lodges that grant you access to truly wild areas and deliver an astounding level of comfort and service. You’ll see glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park and Prince William Sound, observe brown bears feasting on salmon in Katmai National Park, and kayak the quiet coves of Resurrection Bay.
Days 1 and 2
Begin your luxury Alaska vacation in Anchorage, the bustling economic and cultural hub of the state. Settle in at a cozy historic inn located in downtown Anchorage and take in the views; Cook Inlet to the west and the Chugach range to the east. Take a stroll of the compact downtown and finish your day on the deck of 49th State Brewing Company, with a clear shot of Denali in the distant north.
Start your first day with a trip to the fascinating Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. You’ll be accompanied by a private docent through this all encompassing showcase of Alaska’s rich culture and history. The nearby Alaska Native Heritage Center, tucked away in a forest of spruce and birch trees, is a fascinating reflection on the contributions of Alaska’s diverse tribes, that represent nearly twenty percent of the population.
Later that afternoon, travel south down Turnagain Arm along the jaw-dropping Seward Highway to the small mountain community of Girdwood, keeping your eyes peeled for beluga whales in the chilly waters and Dall sheep perched on the towering cliffs that border the highway. Put your feet up at the Hotel Alyeska after a busy day.
Wake up to views of Mount Alyeska and the hanging glaciers of this pristine alpine valley. Formerly a gold mining community, Girdwood was founded during the last gold rush of the 1890’s and still has active claims today. Spend today mushing a dog team atop Punchbowl Glacier and trying your hand at gold panning before sinking into one of the hotel’s pools for a late afternoon soak. End your day as the sun drops by taking the resort’s tram to the top of Mount Alyeska for dinner at Seven Glaciers Restaurant, where you’ll dine while gazing at hanging glaciers across the valley.
KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK
Days 4 – 6
Bid farewell to Girdwood and continue your luxury Alaska vacation by turning south, climbing a thousand feet to Turnagain Pass, the gateway to the Kenai Peninsula. Travel through the scenic Chugach National Forest on the way to Seward, a small fishing town clustered along the shoreline of Resurrection Bay. At the small boat harbor, meet with your charter captain and crew for a cruise through wildlife-rich Resurrection Bay on the way to your adventure base at Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge. Your captain will guide the vessel around the bay’s rocky reaches, looking for humpback whales, sea otters, sea lions, and mountain goats before piloting toward the lodge.
Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge is nestled in the trees near Pedersen Bay, within Kenai Fjords National Park. This eco-friendly lodge is a spot where time seems to slow down and relaxation comes easy. Sit on the front porch with a cup of coffee or glass of wine as you watch bald eagles soar overhead in their quest for fish. Paddle a canoe on the tranquil waters of Pedersen Bay’s lagoon; or stroll the shoreline looking for shells and driftwood tossed there by winter storms.
Adventure-seekers will not be disappointed, from kayak trips to Aialik Glacier to longer hikes to panoramic alpine vistas. Each evening, return to the lodge for a sumptuous meal to top off another day of Alaska adventuring.
Days 6 – 8
Returning to Seward, take your time traveling along the Seward and Sterling Highways to Cooper Landing, a community settled by homesteaders and gold-seekers in 1884. Best known today as a hotspot for salmon fishing along the blue-green Kenai and Russian Rivers. Overnight at the cozy Kenai Riverside Lodge, a staging area for an all-day float down the Kenai River to glacier-fed Skilak Lake. As you float the gentle swells of the river, past the salmon anglers, the occasional brown or black bear can be spotted along the Kenai River, sharing space with anglers in a delicate dance of human-animal awareness and cooperation.
The Upper Kenai River empties into Skilak Lake, where rafting guides will navigate toward beautiful Kenai Backcountry Lodge, located within the protected landscape of Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, your home for the next two nights.
Originally built in the 1930’s as a hunting lodge, Kenai Backcountry Lodge was lovingly restored to reflect the character of Alaska homesteading. Featuring a firm commitment to eco-tourism, the lodge produces its own hydro-electric power. With its rustic elegance, the lodge and cabin accommodations are the perfect place to fall easily into the area’s adventures, while still maintaining a high level of comfort. During your stay, take a guided hike along Cottonwood Trail, traversing to a ridgeline with stunning views of Skilak Lake below. In the evening after dinner, take to Skilak Lake’s quiet waters in a kayak with a guide.
HOMER AND TUTKA BAY
From the Kenai Mountains, wind your way south to the end of the Sterling Highway and the town of Homer, known as the Halibut Capital of the World. Buffered by a seven-mile spit of sand and rock jutting out into beautiful Kachemak Bay, Homer is a playground for lovers of the sea. Upon arriving at Homer’s small boat harbor, meet your water taxi captain who will transport you and your gear across Kachemak Bay to the secluded paradise of Tutka Bay Lodge.
Step onto the dock and take in this section of wild Alaska as you settle into the lodge’s tasteful rooms, your home for the next three nights. Listed as one of National Geographic’s ‘Unique Lodges of the World’, Tutka Bay Lodge is a luxury Alaska wilderness experience with a culinary twist. Chef Kirsten Dixon and her team invite all guests to participate in the lodge’s sustainable food-based practices, from foraging along the tideline to engaging in a Tutka Bay Cooking School class.
During your stay, take the opportunity to become part of the landscape as you kayak among the quiet coves, perhaps in the company of a sea otter or curious seal; fish for salmon and halibut, or hike an alpine trail overlooking Kachemak Bay. Expand your wildlife experience by flying across Cook Inlet to Katmai National Park for a day of bear-viewing in one of the most pristine areas of Alaska. Back at the lodge, soak in the wood-fired hot tub before dining upon locally-sourced Alaska specialties from Tutka Bay chefs.
Bid farewell to Tutka Bay Lodge and enjoy a scenic float plane journey up Cook Inlet to Anchorage. Check in at the Copper Whale Inn for your final night, and reminisce over dinner at the intimate Marx Brothers Cafe in downtown Anchorage.