A land of awe-inspiring beauty, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is also home to a wide variety of wildlife including moose, eagles, brown and black bears, lynx, wolves, and trumpeter swans.
WILDLIFE & HABITAT
Nearly two million acres in size and the most visited refuge in Alaska, Kenai Refuge is characterized by its diverse habitats and wildlife.
Ice Fields & Glaciers - The eastern portion of the refuge descends from the 6,500 Harding Ice Field to 2,000 to 4,000 ft. peaks in the western Kenai Mountains. Ice fields and glaciers are vital sources of fresh water for wildlife and people. Mountain goats, brown bears and ravens have been sighted crossing glaciers and on nunataks - exposed mountains projecting above the glacial ice.
Mountain Tundra- Tree line ends at 1,500 to 2,000 ft. with low growing tundra plants and shrubs continuing in elevation to snow and rock fields at 4,000 ft. Dall sheep, mountain goats, and caribou roam this rugged country. Hoary marmots form colonies on talus slopes. Brown bears graze for berries and occasionally take marmots and sheep. Wolves and golden eagles have been known to be successful hunters of young sheep. Wolverines scavenge the carcasses of dead sheep and goats.
Northern Boreal Forest- From sea level to 2,000 ft., the northern boreal forest is found on the refuge. This forest is composed predominately of white and black spruce, birch, aspen, and cottonwood trees in various stages of succession. This habitat is an important nesting area for summer migrants including orange-crowned and myrtle warblers, olive-sided flycatchers, fox sparrows, ruby crowned kinglets, and Swainson's and hermit thrushes. Local resident birds include great horned owls, hairy and downy woodpeckers, spruce grouse, red-breasted nuthatches, and boreal and black-capped chickadees.
Lakes & Wetlands- The northeastern portion of the refuge is dotted with hundreds of small lakes surrounded by wetland tundra or spruce/hardwood forest hills. This large wetland habitat supports migratory breeding birds including common and pacific loons, grebes, trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, ducks, and shorebirds. Mammals found within this habitat include caribou, moose, beaver, muskrat, and mink. The lakes support a variety of fish species, such as rainbow trout, arctic char, red and silver salmon, and sticklebacks.
Within this habitat, the Chickaloon River Flats remains the last pristine major saltwater estuary on the Kenai Peninsula.
Rivers- The refuge is drained by nine river systems, including the world famous Kenai River, renowned for its wide variety of sport fish including Chinook (king), sockeye (red), and coho (silver) salmon, and Dolly Varden and rainbow trout.
TRAVEL & TOURISM
Your opportunities for outdoor adventures here extend year-round and include world-class fishing, hunting, hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing, and camping. Whether you choose to fish or float the emerald waters of the Kenai River or experience wilderness solitude canoeing in lowland lakes or hiking high into the alpine tundra, you are sure to create life-long and indelible memories.
From Anchorage, drive 90 miles on the Seward Highway to the junction of the Sterling Highway. Turn west at Milepost 37 of the Sterling Highway and travel 18 miles to the eastern Refuge boundary at Milepost 55 of the Sterling Highway. In three more miles (Milepost 58, Sterling Highway), you find the Refuge Visitor Contact Station on the north side of the Sterling Highway, a self-serve information facility during summer months. On the south side of Sterling Highway at Milepost 58 is the eastern turn off for Skilak Lake Road. This 19 mile gravel loop road leads to Refuge hiking trails, campgrounds, and a scenic drive and then rejoins the Sterling Highway at Milepost 75. Whether you take the Skilak Lake Road or the Sterling Highway from Mile 58, you are approximately 40 miles from Soldotna and the Refuge Visitor Center.
To find the Refuge Visitor Center when you arrive in Soldotna, travel to mile 95 of the Sterling Highway, crossing the Kenai River Bridge. Once you cross the river, immediately get in the far left turn lane and make a left on to Funny River Road. As soon as you are on Funny River Road, prepare for an immediate right turn on to Ski Hill Road. Ski Hill Road is gravel, and you will drive one mile up the hill and make a left turn on to a paved road leading to the Visitor Center. The Center is open daily in summer (Weekdays: 8:00AM--4:30PM; and weekends: 9:00AM--5:00PM) and Monday through Saturday from October through April (Weekdays: 8:00AM--4:30PM and Saturdays: 10:00AM-5:00PM).
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
P.O. Box 2139; Ski Hill Rd.
Soldotna, Alaska 99669-2139
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