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Kenai Peninsula roads

sawbridgeworth uk
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Kenai Peninsula roads

Hi, could anyone tell me if the following roads are paved or gravel roads as I have been reading a couple of web sites which say they are good for wildlife viewing.

The roads are :

Kenia Spur highway

Bridge access road

Marathon road

Swanson river drive

swan lake road

Skilak lake road

Has anyone else gone off the main road and investigated any of these?

many thanks

Wasilla, Alaska
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1. Re: Kenai Peninsula roads

The Kenai Spur Rd and Bridge access roads are paved. Kenai Spur goes into Kenai, and onto Nikiski. At least that part into Kenai is not much of a wildlife viewing area. You could try emailing the Nikiski Chamber of Commerce and asking about the other roads up there. Sorry, I can't remember if Skilak Lake road is paved or not.

I happen to enjoy the side trip to Kenai. I know many people stick to the Sterling Hwy to move onto Homer. Kenai is a smaller, more intimate place. If you decide to go, I would recommend the old Kenai town site. It is also nice to just walk the beach and catch the beautiful view of the mountains. Just a nice retreat for a few hours from the busy Sterling Hwy.

sawbridgeworth uk
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2. Re: Kenai Peninsula roads

Many thanks inluvwithAK.

I see you are from Wasilla, after we have wandered down through the Kenai peninsula we are then going to head north upto to Denali over a couple of days.

Any suggestions for nice views or things to see around Wasilla?

Wasilla, Alaska
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3. Re: Kenai Peninsula roads

I would consider Wasilla itself more of a re-supply town. If you have to get something before going up to Denali, you need to get it here. We have the big box stores, etc., and the prices are going to be far, far less here.

Saying that, Wasilla is only part of the larger Mantanuska-Susitna Valley (Mat-Su). Yes, there are a number of activities I take my guests to, yet they are activities that can be done in a matter of hours.

I don't know when you are visiting, but I will mention the State Fair is starting today in Palmer. Palmer and Wasilla connect off the Parks Hwy, or coming from Anchorage, you simply drive into Palmer from the Glenn Hwy (39 miles).

For a different kind of experience, I like to visit the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer. It is located north out of Palmer just a few miles. At one time the Musk Ox were hunted to the point of extinction in AK. They were later re-introduced and this farm gives you the background on that, and tour of the Musk Ox. It is a quick, inexpensive side trip.

From there you can go to Independence Mine in Hatcher Pass. You can also get there off the Parks Hwy in Wasilla on Main Street. There you will see the remains of an old gold mine. Very interesting. Free. You pay to park only. I recommend the restaurant at the entrance of the mine. They have good home cooked food for great prices and the nicest setting there in the mountain looking over the valley. Go ohe mile further up to the summit of Hatcher Pass for a breathtaking view of the mountains. You will likely see a few people out berry picking.

In Big Lake, (take Big Lake Rd off the Parks Hwy in Wasilla), go to see Martin Buser's sled dog kennels. He has won the Iditarod a number of times and is still a racer. He puts on a really good show for the visitors. It is bit expensive, but worth it. Before you go, make sure that Martin is there. The show is best with him.

If you want to walk on a glacier, a good place is the Mantanuska Glacier. If you prefer, you can get a guide for a hike there, but you can also do it yourself. It's off the Glenn Hwy, but would be more of a day trip than just a few hours.

Here's just a few suggestions. If I can help in any other way, let me know.

NY
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4. Re: Kenai Peninsula roads

To find out whether these roads are paved or not and what to expect to see on them search for them in the Milepost book. We just came back from our trip and drove only on the Kenai Spur Highway from your list. It's well paved. We just went the first 11 miles (from Soldotna to the Russian churches in Kenai), so I don't know whether this roads gets more interesting after that but I would definitely not recommend the part we went for wildlife viewing. It is lined by all possible chain stores. It reminded me of the shopping district in any suburban area in US, totally the opposite of what we have been viewing on all our other drives in Alaska.

We did a nice easy hike not far from there (from Cooper Landing) to the Russian River Falls - 2 miles gravel trail, almost flat, nice falls, saw salmon trying to jump up the falls, and a grizzly bear.

We also hiked the Matanuska Glacier and I would totally recommend it. We went with a guide on a 4 hour hike and were able to walk on the white ice part of the glacier, between interesting ice formations. The drive past Palmer to Matanuska and past there is amazing. Go at least about 15 miles more after Matanuska Glacier or all the way to Valdez if you want to.

We also drove Hatcher Pass road. Palmer to Independence Mine is a well paved straight road. Independence Mine up to Hatcher Pass is a mile or two of unpaved winding road with potholes. It continues all the way to Willow that way. If you want to get off the main roads this would be a great choice, especially if the weather is good. We went on a cloudy rainy day, so we didn't see the best views and chose not to hike there in the mud and pouring rain.

By the way, we had one of the best meals of our trip at Pioneer Lodge in Willow (north of Wasilla).

Wasilla, Alaska
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5. Re: Kenai Peninsula roads

Unfortunately, the Milepost doesn't always tell you whether the road is paved or not. And, every road will not be listed in the Milepost. I just remembered that Skilak Lake Loop Rd is gravel. Well, it was a few years ago when I traveled it.

I would not suggest going over Hatcher Pass to Willow. Under the very best circumstances, it is a poor road, and not a road to get broke down. I just don't think you would enjoy it. But yes, do take the road to the summit. It is only a mile or so up on the gravel road, with the potholes. If you are at Independence Mine already, it is worth the few minutes going to the top.

sawbridgeworth uk
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6. Re: Kenai Peninsula roads

Thanks everyone - this is great info.

Unfortunately we will not be coming out until next year which is a real shame. Mind you as I work at an airport and we are doing crazy hours at the moment its what's keeping me going!

thanks again

Wasilla, Alaska
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7. Re: Kenai Peninsula roads

Well, we look forward to your visit here in Alaska next year. If I could make a suggestion for a date, I would avoid most of August as it is our rainy month. This year, we have doubled our normal August rainfall. Now, I know you are accustomed to rain, but why vacation in the rain if you can avoid it. Just a suggestion because many of our current visitors have gone home a little drenched! Keep posting, and we'll help you out with plans.

Pompano Beach
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8. Re: Kenai Peninsula roads

This is about the Wasilla part of your question, asked in another post. There is a road called Hatcher Pass, which bypasses Wasilla and is very scenic and pretty rough, lots of it, maybe all, is gravel. It was a beautiful drive, we took it southbound heading from Denali to Anchorage, it is easy to find, but a hard drive. NOT a shortcut, as the driving was slow, and so many scenes to stop and look. So, if you are into getting off the main road, and have the vehicle to do so, I recommend you plan a few hours for that.

Love2

Wasilla, Alaska
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9. Re: Kenai Peninsula roads

I'm heading up to Hatcher today to go berry picking and gold panning :) The previous poster is right - Hatcher is not a short cut, but it offers some beautiful scenery and can guarantee you will see only a few people out of the road. It is extremely pot-holed. Recently, it was closed when we had all the rain. Hatcher got 12" in 10 days! Yikes. I know you are not coming this year, but you should know the status of the roads when you are here. 511.alaska.gov will give you all the driving conditions around the state.

sawbridgeworth uk
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10. Re: Kenai Peninsula roads

So now I am really jealous! Berry picking and gold panning!

That sounds so nice compared to being in an airport terminal with passengers who have forgotten that bottles of water are liquids!

Anyway I think we are going to visit the last week of August and first week of Sept in 2007and hope that the rain does not follow us!

I recently found the national geographic web cam of the bears in alaska - two days before it shut down - but there were still some great images.

Thanks for all the ideas we have looked at the mile post web site, it's really great.

So far we have opted for :

a couple of days in anchorage,

a day to meander to Whittier

a day to cruise Prince William Sound

a day to meander to Homer

a day flightseeing with Emerald air

a day back to Seward... exit glacier

a day out with Alaska salt water lodge whale watching etc

a day meandering upto Talkeenata

a 1/2day around Talkeenata and then onto Denali

a day on the shuttle bus and hiking in Denali

a day back to Palmer

a day maybe out to Valdez depending on flight times?

A friend has just come back of a cruise of the inside passage and whilst it looked great, it does not look like our kind of thing.