Exploring the Towns Around Kenai Fjords National Park
When planning a visit to Kenai Fjords National Park, it's important to know about the surrounding towns that can serve as your base of operations. Despite the wild and remote nature of the park, several nearby communities offer accommodations, dining options, and a peek into the local Alaskan culture. Below, we'll discover these towns and the culinary delights that await you on your Alaskan adventure.
Seward: The Gateway to Kenai Fjords
Seward is the most accessible and prominent town near Kenai Fjords National Park, situated at the head of Resurrection Bay. This picturesque town is just a short drive from the park's entrance and serves as a hub for visitors looking to explore the area's glaciers and wildlife.
Seward boasts a variety of accommodations ranging from quaint bed and breakfasts to larger, more modern hotels. Notable options include the Seward Windsong Lodge and the Hotel Seward, both offering comfortable stays with stunning views. In addition to lodging, Seward is home to several restaurants where you can savor the local cuisine. For fresh seafood, try the Catch of the Day at Ray's Waterfront or the halibut fish and chips at Chinooks.
Soldotna: On the Kenai River
Approximately 75 miles northwest of the park, Soldotna lies along the banks of the Kenai River, famous for its salmon runs. This town provides a good selection of hotels and lodges such as Soldotna Inn or the Kenai River Lodge, catering to both fishing enthusiasts and visitors to Kenai Fjords. When it comes to dining, Soldotna offers a comfortable array of eateries with St. Elias Brewing Company standing out for its craft beers and delicious pizza.
Homer: The "Halibut Fishing Capital"
If you travel south from the park, Homer is about 80 miles away at the end of the Sterling Highway on the Kachemak Bay. Known as the "Halibut Fishing Capital of the World," Homer offers lodging options such as the Driftwood Inn or the Homer Inn & Spa, each providing unique charm and bay views. When dining in Homer, don't miss the opportunity to try a halibut dinner at Captains Coffee Roasting Co. or enjoy the local art scene with some organic fare at Cosmic Kitchen.
Cooper Landing: A Scenic Gem
Nestled at the confluence of Kenai Lake and Kenai River, Cooper Landing is about 45 miles north of Seward. While smaller than other towns on this list, Cooper Landing is a scenic gem with accommodations that often border the serene waters, such as the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge. For dining, the Kingfisher Roadhouse offers an eclectic menu with a local twist.
Local Alaskan Dishes to Try
While exploring the towns around Kenai Fjords National Park, indulge in the local gastronomy which revolves around the fresh bounty of the sea and the flavors of the wilderness. Noteworthy Alaskan dishes to sample include:
- Wild Alaskan Salmon: Often grilled, smoked, or prepared as sashimi, this is a staple that is both healthful and rich in flavor.
- King Crab Legs: Alaska's waters offer some of the most succulent crab, and local restaurants pride themselves on their preparation of this prized catch.
- Alaskan Halibut: Known for its firm texture and mild flavor, halibut is versatile and can be found in everything from hearty stews to elegant entrées.
- Reindeer Sausage: An exotic choice for those wanting to taste something uniquely Alaskan.
- Berry Pies: With an abundance of wild berries, desserts like blueberry and salmonberry pies are sweet regional delights.
To assist you in planning your trip, the following websites can be helpful:
- Kenai Fjords National Park Official Website: nps.gov/kefj
- Seward Chamber of Commerce: seward.com
- Homer Chamber of Commerce: homeralaska.org
- Soldotna Chamber of Commerce: visitsoldotna.com
- Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council: kenaipeninsula.org
Each website provides ample information on accommodations, restaurants, and things to do in the vicinity of Kenai Fjords National Park. Whether planning an excursion on the trails or a sea kayaking journey, local towns offer the support and amenities needed for an unforgettable Alaskan experience. The fusion of comfort, adventure, and delectable cuisine makes a trip to the Kenai Fjords National Park and its surrounding communities truly captivating.