Over on the western shores of Cook Inlet, a largely untouched wilderness paradise awaits the traveler with a sense of adventure.
The inlet's west side only can be reached by air or sea, which keeps the area quiet and secluded. The trip takes just 30 minutes by plane, or a couple hours by boat from the Kenai Peninsula.
Visitors who make the trip will find an unlimited amount of outdoor opportunities ranging from fishing and hunting to sightseeing, camping and photography.
The region is home to all five species of Pacific salmon, as well as trout, char and halibut. There are 11 major rivers and streams in the area, as well as two major volcanoes, mounts Redoubt and Iliamna.
Birds, bears, moose and other wildlife are abundant, and multiple opportunities are available for travelers eager to interact with this remarkable landscape.
Guides are available to coordinate hunting and fishing opportunities and flightseeing is available through area charter flights.
The 4-million-acre Lake Clark National Park and Lake Clark Preserve, where the Alaskan and Aleutian mountain ranges meet, also touches the inlet's western shoreline.
Overnight accommodations in the area range from tent camping to full-service lodges.
Cabin rentals and guided trips catering to the traveler 's entire needs also are available.
For more information on flightseeing tours, fishing charters, lodges or guided hunting, call the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center at 283-1991 or visit it on the Web at www.visitkenai.com.
Photo by Shelly Peterson
Other points of interest on the west side of the inlet include the Athabaskan village of Tyonek, setnet camps, the Drift River Oil Terminal, the Chisik Island bird rookery and the Trading Bay State Game Refuge.
The 268-square-mile Redoubt Bay State Critical Habitat Area is an important waterfowl nesting area that sits in the migration path of sandhill cranes and frequently is visited by bald eagles, ravens and gulls. Moose and bear keep company with their smaller neighbors, including wolf, mink and otter.
Harbor seals can be seen around the mouths of area streams and beluga whales dine on salmon returning to the rivers of their birth.
At McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, bears come first, but that doesn't mean people are forbidden.
In 1973, the state began a permit system to regulate the number of visitors wanting to view this world-famous congregation of brown bear.
For more information, contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, (907) 267-2269.
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