If you think the Kenai Peninsula is beautiful in the summer, you should see it when cloaked under a thick blanket of white with the aurora borealis rippling through the celestial canopy above. Winter is a great time to enjoy the Kenai Peninsula just for its beauty, but recreational opportunities abound as well.
ICE FISHING. Fishing is a year-round activity in Alaska and Ice fishing is an enjoyable sport for anglers of all ages. Dolly Varden, arctic char, arctic grayling, and trout are all found in area lakes. Contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for a list of stocked lakes at 907-262-9368.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING and SNOWSHOEING trails range from the immaculately groomed close to town, to untamed backcountry powder that is miles from civilization and just waiting for to be explored. Tsalteshi Ski Trails, south of Soldotna behind Skyview High School, offers more than 10 miles of maintained, marked ski trails, many of which are lighted during the winter months. The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, on Ski Hill Road near Soldotna, is another excellent resource for groomed trails. The North Peninsula Recreation Area Trails, and the Kenai Golf Course ski trails are also popular options. For snowshoeing, many of the summer hiking trails of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge offer excellent winter snowshoeing opportunities.
SNOWMOBILING is actually referred to as “snowmachining” in this neck of the woods, but whatever it’s called, the trails in this area offer some of the best iron dog opportunities in the state. The Caribou Hills Cabin Hoppers Snowmachine Club works to groom and maintain roughly 100 miles of trails in the Caribou Hills region of the southern Kenai Peninsula, east of Ninilchik. Trail maps are available at most sled shops in the area, to aid enjoying these trails without conflicting with private landowners. There also are a multitude of public trails from Cooper Landing and beyond that offer fantastic scenery and easy riding, check with the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge or Chugiak National Forest Headquarters for details.
HOCKEY AND ICE SKATING. If into slap shots and hat tricks, or just want to strap on a pair of blades for a little leisurely gliding, head to the multipurpose facility near Kenai Central High School, or visit the Soldotna Sports Center’s Olympic-size ice arena. They even rent the skates for great family fun. There are also numerous lakes that with a little work can be wonderful for some “natural-ice” ice skating. Checkout the Swan Lake or Swanson River lake systems, or those off of Skilak Road in the Kenai national Wildlife Refuge.
DOG MUSHING is Alaska’s state sport, and several mushing organizations hold weekly and annual racing events, including the Kenai Peninsula’s own Iditarod-qualifying race, the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race. This race, held at the end of January, also hosts a junior division for young mushers. The Peninsula Sled Dog Racing Association also hosts numerous dog sled and skijoring races near Soldotna Municipal Airport.
OTHER ACTIVITIES. Be sure to make plans to visit the area during the Peninsula Winter Games, which are held around the end of January. The Kenai and Soldotna areas are jam-packed with activities for the whole family. Or travel to Seward for the annual Polar Bear Jump into the icy waters of Resurrection Bay. Anchor Point hosts a Snow Rondi, a carnival of events in mid winter that is as Alaskan as it gets.
When you’re done with a day in the great outdoors, check into one of the many area lodges that operate on a year-round basis. You’ll be treated to cozy surroundings and great hospitality in a relaxing atmosphere. There is a reason Alaskans live here all year — come and find out what it is.