Alaska Transportation: Travel within Alaska
Anchorage Cars Rentals:
•Thrifty Car Rentals: 907-276-2855
•Dollar Rent A Car; 907-248-5388
•Hertz Rent A Car; 877-826-8782
•Enterprise Rent-A-Car; 907-248-5526
•Budget Car Rentals; 907-243-0150
•Avis Car Rental; 907-249-8200
The Drive from Anchorage to Kenai is an Excellent way to begin your vacation in Alaska.
How to get here: From Anchorage you will follow Highway 1 South on the Kenai Peninsula 140 miles to the town of Sterling.
On the way: Just outside of Anchorage, you will follow Hwy 1 between the Chugach Mountains and the waters of Turnagain Arm. Watch for Dall sheep in the steep rock faces adjacent to the road.
Drive a little further and you will reach Portage glacier. Portage is Alaska’s most land accessible glacier and is located just 52 miles outside of Anchorage. The viewing station and visitors center is a must stop for taking a frigid look at this massive icefield.
From Portage you will continue down Hwy 1 and soon enter the Kenai Peninsula. Brimming over the 988-foot Turnagain Pass, and criss-crossing deep into the Kenai Mountains, the road eventually splits. The Sterling Hwy (which remains Hwy 1) travels south to Sterling, Soldotna and eventually Homer. The Seward Hwy continues on toward to the beautiful coastal community of Seward.
After the Sterling Hwy cutoff, you will immediately enter the headwaters and eventually the upper reaches of the fabled Kenai River. Numerous mountain creeks swollen from melting snow and retreating glaciers crash their way into Kenai Lake, a turquoise jewel that marks the Kenai River’s emerald green beginnings. From Kenai Lake, the road follows the swift flows of the Kenai River through the town of Cooper Landing and past its legendary confluence with the Russian River. From mid June on, this area will be bustling with happy fisherman enjoying the hoards of red salmon that return to the Russian annually. Several miles after passing through the Cooper Landing area, the road leaves the river and enters a small mountainous pass before spilling down into the low lying, boreal forest of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The vegetation is very thick and the terrain mostly flat. To see the abundant wildlife inside the forest walls, you’ll need to keep your eye’s peeled. Moose and eagles are almost a guarantee but animals such as wolves and bears are much more elusive.
After leaving the mountains the road will take you an additional 30 minutes to the town of Sterling and soon after, the town of Soldotna. Eleven miles apart, these two towns are the heart of Kenai River salmon fishing. Centrally located to all of the Kenai Peninsula’s attractions, the Sterling/Soldotna area is an excellent area to base your Alaska vacation. With modern stores and a variety of restaurants, a touch of civilization in this otherwise vast wilderness is very convenient. From the Sterling/Soldotna area, travelers can continue south on Hwy 1 to the one-of-a kind coastal community of Homer. This drive will take you through several smaller communities such as Kasilof, Ninilchik, and Anchor Point before the road finally ends in the town of Homer. This southern portion of the Kenai Peninsula is littered with small salmon rivers and also offers excellent salt water fishing for salmon and halibut in adjacent Cook Inlet.
Homer itself is located on picturesque Kachemak Bay and is famous for its sizable sand spit. The spit extends out into the bay itself and houses Homer’s renown sportfishing fleet. Homer is unofficially known as the halibut capital of the world.
As you may have already concluded, by renting a car and exploring the Kenai Peninsula you can see nearly everything Alaska has to offer. From breathtaking scenery, world class sportfishing, and abundant wildlife, the Kenai has it all. Most people could spend an entire summer just exploring the Kenai Peninsula and barely unravel its countless opportunities. By the time you are ready to leave you’ll already be planning your return.