Wild in Alaska: From Anchorage to Homer
Total Mileage/Average drive time
242 miles, 4 hours, minutes
On your wilderness trek from Anchorage through Moose Pass and Kenai to Homer, keep your eyes wide open and your camera in hand. Views of Alaskan forests, tundra, mountains, volcanoes, bays and rivers are spectacular. Options for active outdoor adventures are plentiful, and wildlife sightings—from moose and brown bears to whales and sockeye salmon—are most memorable in "The Last Frontier.'"
1. Anchorage - Starting Point
Go hiking, climbing, skiing, snowmobiling or rafting in Chugach State Park. Moose, bears and Dall sheep will share the park's forests, tundra and waterscapes with you. When you hike to the top of Flattop Mountain, take in grand views of Mount McKinley and Mount Redoubt volcano. At Ship Creek (an easy walk from downtown Anchorage), go fishing for king salmon, then walk or pedal a bike on the paved creek-side path. Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge is tops for birding. Potter Marsh (just south of the city on the New Seward Highway) attracts migrating and nesting species such as mallards, red-necked grebes and lesser Canada geese.
Golden Nugget RV Park
Anchorage, (907) 333-2012
2. Portage - 49 miles, 1 hour
You can score close-up views and fabulous photos of local wildlife at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a non-profit organization that cares for injured and orphaned animals, releases them back to the wild (when appropriate) and provides spacious homes for permanently disabled animals. Take a stroll along the Bear Boardwalk, which winds through the creatures' habitat and gives you an eye-level glimpse of these amazing mammals as they play, eat and relax.
3. Tern Lake - 42 miles, 43 minutes
Chugach National Forest, a popular hikers' and backbackers' playground, surrounds Tern Lake and the town of Moose Pass. You can walk scenic Kenai Peninsula trails such as Johnson Pass, a path that traverses an Alpine pass and two lakes before tracing a section of the original Iditarod gold prospectors' trail. Tern Lake is a great wildlife gathering point. Keep your camera handy, because you might see trumpeter swans, mountain goats, bald eagles or beavers, depending on the season and time of day. Look for sockeye salmon in Dave's Creek and listen for songbirds that flourish on the lake's beautiful southwestern shore.
4. Kenai - 69 miles, 1 hour, 23 minutes
Fish for salmon (king, sockeye and coho varieties) in the Kenai River—one of the world's best sport fishing rivers. Take in a breathtaking view of the Alaska Range and three active volcanoes. From the bluffs at Beluga Whale Lookout, focus your vision on offshore waters to see beluga whales riding incoming tides in search of salmon. At the Kenai Visitor and Cultural Center, learn about the region's rich Russian history, which dates back to the 1700s. Browse the fascinating native artifacts that are on display and buy souvenirs in the gift shop. Get local information about fun things to do in the area.
Alaskan Angler RV Resort
Ninilchik, (800) 347-4114
5. Homer - 81 miles, 1 hour, 34 minutes
The Homer Spit, a 4.5-mile strip of land that extends into the center of Kachemak Bay, is brimming with action during summer months. Why not join the ranks of campers and beach combers, charter fishermen chasing halibut and birders looking for bald eagles? You might even catch a hungry salmon if you drop a line in the "Fishing Hole" at Homer Spit Lagoon. Ride a water taxi to the opposite (quieter) side of the bay at Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park, where you can go for a hike or kayak in calm bay waters while you enjoy (and photograph) amazing panoramas of glaciers and snow-frosted mountain peaks. Above timberline, skiers and hikers will find glaciers and snowfields stretching for miles. Special park attractions include Grewingk Glacier, Poot Peak and China Poot Bay. Lace up those hiking boots and hit the trail, or find a great fishing spot and relax for the day.