Welcome to the second half of our 4th of July week in Alaska. If you haven’t read part one and you’re interest in Denali National Park, click here to read that post. We spent the first four days exploring Denali National Park and Talkeetna and now we head south to the Kenai Peninsula.
Homer is a small town on the Kenai Peninsula and is known as the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World”. The Homer Spit is a narrow, 4.5-mile strip of land jutting into the Kachamak Bay. It’s surrounded by glacier-covered mountains and even though it was a 6 hour drive from Talkeetna, we knew we didn’t want to miss it!
To break up the trip, we took a short detour to Portage Glacier. It was our first glacier sighting and there are also hiking trails that take you up to it.
We stopped at a few other scenic spots and even saw a moose on the side of the road.
The lighthouse at Ninilchik drew me in and when we pulled into the Deep Creek State Recreation Area the beach was covered in bald eagles and golden eagles!
Once we reached Homer we went to our campsite at the Heritage RV Park out on the Spit. We picked a campsite along the fishing hole and we had an amazing view from our tent.
We walked down the spit, did some shopping and had really nice dinner at Fresh Catch Cafe. I finished the night with ice cream from Flagship Creamery and a campfire on the beach. We hadn’t been able to have a fire up by Denali because there were quite a few forest fires in the area. We didn’t have to worry about fire down on the Kenai Peninsula because it was about to rain for the next 2 days straight.
The next day, we packed up our tent right before the rain hit and began the 3.5 hr drive to Seward.
Along the way we stopped at Exit Glacier. At first we were just going to do the short hike to view the glacier but as soon as I saw that there was an 8.2-mile hike to Harding Ice Field, I had to do it and, per usually, doing the extra hike was so worth it.
You gain about 1,000 ft every mile so it was also super strenuous but the views were insane, even on a rainy and overcast day. At the second overlook, we looked down at the glacier to see a group of mountain goats scaling the rocks.
Unfortunately, it did rain the entire time so we stopped at the second overlook. We figured that with all of the clouds, rain and fog and the fact that we’d been soaking wet for 5 hours, we should turn around and not try to make it to the ice field. That stretch of the trail was on snow and out in the elements and would’ve required a few more layers than we had worn.
After the hike we continued on to Seward. Seward is a super cute town and we were excited to walk around downtown and hike to the top of Mt Marathon but unfortunately mother nature had different plans. We were soaked and we knew we had to wear our rain gear the next day so we booked a last minute hotel room to dry out our clothes.
That night, we got lucky and were able to snag a seat at the bar at The Cookery. If you’re one to plan ahead I would highly recommend getting a reservation. The food was awesome!
For our last full day, we booked a 6-hour Kenai Fjords National Park cruise through Major Marine Tours. There are lots of options for excursions depending on your interests; whales, wildlife, fishing, sled dogs, bears, glaciers, and even helicopter rides. We were most interested in seeing the whales and glaciers so that’s why we went with the boat tour even though we both got super seasick on a whale watching excursion in Hawaii. This time we had Dramamine locked and loaded.
Sadly, because of the weather and high tides, our 6-hour cruise was cut short to 4 hours and limited to just the bay. It was disappointing but even the bay was a little choppy and we still saw orcas, otters, humpbacks, puffin and stellar sea lions.
We were supposed to stay in Seward one more night but knowing our flight was the next morning, we decided to drive north to get out of the rain and sleep roadside again.
The next morning we grabbed breakfast at Gwinnie’s Old Alaska Restaurant, an Anchorage institution and one of the best pancakes I had all week.
Finally, as we returned our beloved Bronco and headed to the airport, our 7-day Alaska adventure came to the end.
I crammed as much info as I could into these two posts but there’s no way I could fully capture the intimidating vastness or the small beautiful details of this place. I feel fortunate to have been able to explore The Last Frontier and it’ll probably take 10 more trips before I’m able to see everything else I want to in Alaska.
Have you been to Alaska? What are your favorite parts? If you haven’t been, what are some of the places you’d like to go? Leave me a comment and give me ideas for my next trip to Alaska!