Located just south of Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula is replete with natural and historical sites. The peninsula has many glaciers in its eastern and southern areas, as well as several rivers, lakes, and national parks. As such, it has earned the moniker of “Alaska’s Playground” mainly because of the many things that visitors can do in the area, which ranges from your usual bear viewing, birding, hiking, and biking to the more extraordinary ones like dog sledding, glacier watching, and various wildlife viewing.  

Much of Kenai is dotted with numerous bays, inland marshes,  lakes, and glacier-bounded bays, the Kenai Peninsula is a kayaker’s haven. As such, here’s a list that we’ve rounded up for you, just in case you’d want to visit Alaska’s playground. 

Gigantic glaciers, various wildlife, and a diverse range of routes await visitors in the Kenai Peninsula. Because of its complex ecosystem, a massive and diverse array of flora and fauna have flourished and have made this area their home. It is also said that the Kenai Peninsula is considered the “birthplace of kayaking”, as people have been hunting and fishing in the waters of the region for thousands of years. It is no wonder then that the Kenai Peninsula would be one of the premier kayaking destinations in the world. 

Easy Kayaking Spots in the Kenai Peninsula

The many kayaking areas in the peninsula offer kayakers of all levels many choices for their destinations. To jump-start our routes in the various choices available, here is a list that we rounded up for beginner-level routes. 

Resurrection Bay

Resurrection Bay sits at the northernmost edge of a deep ford and to its west are 700 square miles of ice known as the Harding Icefield. Explore the bay’s deep blue waters, its weathered coastlines, and the various communities that live around it. A favorite among novice kayakers, this area is often calm and offers a relaxed pace for a kayak route. 


Where to launch:

Bear Glacier

A paddle starts at Callisto Head and then goes towards the iceberg forests of Bear Glacier. From the lagoon, a shallow riverway stretches into the ocean and is the only access to the route. Waters are generally calm, but considering that the route goes through glaciers, it can get quite cold. 


Where to launch:

Swan Lake/ Swanson River Canoe Trail

Swan Lake is composed of 30 linked lakes, rivers, and portages located in the heart of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The canoe trail attracts a lot of visitors and is considered one of the best places to paddle for beginners. Several small rapids and riffles add a bit of spice to the  trail.


Where to launch:

Kenai Lake

Kenai Lake is an easily accessible, large body of water located at the heart of the Kenai Peninsula. The water is calm and almost glass-like during the summer. Five miles into the route paddling south, kayakers can rest at the beach on Porcupine island, and plenty of animals such as birds and squirrels can be seen. 

Where to launch:

Difficult and Technical Kayaking Spots in the Kenai Peninsula

For kayakers looking for more adventure,  challenging tides and longer stretches, and even the occasional falling debris from a glacier, these and more are expected. Colder temperatures too are to be taken note of, as well as rougher tides and higher waves. 

Kenai Fjords

Paddling in the Kenai Fjords allows visitors to get up close and personal with the marine life located in the area. As the place is replete with glaciers, this area is recommended for more experienced kayakers as landings involve surfing when the breeze gets a bit stronger from the south. Wind and rainfall can also be excessive at times and the summer storms can raise the ocean swell to more than three feet, and ice fall hazard zones are identified at the toe and sides of the Exit Glacier.

Where to launch:

Thumb Cove

Leaving from Miller’s Landing, Thumb’s Cove is one of the bay’s most scenic and popular paddling routes. Note that paddling to Thumb Cove directly from Steward is not recommended, flying in or taking a water taxi is preferred. Spectacular rock and glacier faces can be seen throughout the route as well as many marine animals that live in the area. 

Where to launch: 

Lake Creek

For very experienced kayakers and canoers, the route from Lake Creek going to the Yetna River offers class II and III rapids on an almost continuous basis on certain sections. If the situation permits, moose, bears, and other wildlife that live along the river can be seen. An hour-long float plane ride is required to get to the area. 

Where to launch: 

Kachemak Bay

Because of its dynamic and changing water conditions as influenced by the wind, tides, and currents, Kachemak Bay sometimes becomes suitable for intermediate kayakers. Tidal waves can reach up to 25 feet and can leave kayakers facing strong currents or riptides. Fast-moving can be experienced and wildlife such as otters, porpoises, and even whales can be seen along the course. 

Where to launch:

National / State Park Kayaking Spots in the Kenai Peninsula

The Kenai Peninsula is home to Kachemak Bay, Resurrection Bay, and the mighty Kenai River, among others. To date, there are about 16 state parks spanning over 400 square miles across the region.  Lush with beautiful landscapes, bountiful wildlife, and majestic scenery, the Kenai Peninsula is definitely a must for any lover of the outdoors.

Denali State Park

Denali State Park’s land area is as big as half of Rhode Island. This provides its visitors with various recreational activities ranging from camping to wilderness exploration. Its landscape varies from quiet lowland rivers to dominating ridges and alpine tundra. 

Where to launch:

Katmai National Park and Reserve

Located on a peninsula in southern Alaska, this national park and reserve have wild landscapes of tundra, forests, lakes, and mountains. There is also a valley filled with ash flow from a volcanic eruption many years back and is called the “Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes”. A fun fact about Katmai is that its valleys were used by NASA to train astronauts in recognizing volcanic features, landforms, and materials in the 1960s. 

Where to launch:

Chugach State Park

Covering 495, 204 acres east of the Anchorage Bowl in south-central Alaska, this state park was created in the 1970s to provide recreational opportunities and to protect the scenic value of the Chugach Mountains and other areas nearby. Considered the third-largest state park in America, visitors can choose from a wide range of activities from hiking, swimming, and camping to gold-panning, glacier viewing, ATV riding, and even hunting and fishing. 

Where to launch:

Wood-Tikchik State Park

Wood-Tikchik State Park is an enormous 1.6 million-acre park featuring a wildlife refuge, several lakes & mountain views. This park is ideal for those who want to canoe or kayak in the wilderness. However, the land and water in this area are traditional grounds for subsistence fishing, hunting, and gathering and are considered to be integral to the culture of the people in the region. 

Where to launch:

Recommended Kayaking Tours in Kenai Peninsula

Kenai Fjords and Resurrection Bay Half-Day Wildlife Cruise

Travel 55 miles along rugged coastlines where the abundance of wildlife can be seen, from sea lion colonies and seabird rookeries to even whales, sea otters, eagles, and even mountain goats. Water, coffee, and tea are served on board, and free use of binoculars is also included for a better (and safer) way to see the wildlife up-close. 

Kachemak Bay Wildlife Tour

Choose between a hike to a glacier lake in Kachemak Bay State Park or a wildlife-focused boat tour with views of the stunning Kenai Mountains. The boat tour offers seeing sea animals like whales, puffins, or otters, while the hike gives scenic views unlike any other. 

Need to Know for  the Kenai Peninsula

Average daylight hours in the Kenai Peninsula is nineteen hours, notable in the month of June. This makes for long beautiful evenings with plenty of light, as compared to nights in December, when there is an average of five hours of daylight. When to Visit the Kenai Peninsula

Summer is the best time to visit the Kenai Peninsula, as the best weather and most sun are in June and July, although there might be a high chance that it might rain at this time of the year. This is also the reason why most of Kenai’s jam-packed festivals happen around this time of the year. Notable ones are Seward’s 4th of July Celebration,  the Kenai River Festival and the Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival, and the Salmonfest-all of which are celebrated in August, among many other festivals.  

Weather in the Kenai Peninsula

The peninsula’s coastal climate is relatively mild, with heavy rainfall. However, the weather is unpredictable, and it is normal to have temperature shifts of 10-20 degrees in a day. 

The low season begins in January and lasts until March, while the high season, or the time when Kenai gets the most sunlight, is in June through mid-August. Winter or cold season lasts from November to March when a lot of winter sports and activities are done by visitors. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.