June 18, 2024

Anne’s Alaska Road Trip – Part II

Hiking on Bryon Glacier in the Portage Valley.

After our visit to Denali National Park, enjoying the hiking trails by day and relaxing at a Princess Wilderness Lodge by night, we were back on the road again. Our next destination was the Kenai Peninsula, famous for its fjords. Bill and I had, years earlier, explored this remote and rugged coastline by sailboat but were now returning by car, with two small boys in tow.

We were all enjoying our road trip as we headed south to Kenai. First we retraced our route to Anchorage, then turned onto the scenic Seward Highway, which was designated an All-American Road in the year 2000. Points of interest encourage motorists to stop at several scenic overlooks where the highway skirts the shores of Turnagain Arm with views across the water to the Kenai Mountains. At the head of the arm lies the glacier-filled Portage Valley where we went for a streamside hike to the face of Byron Glacier and climbed onto its snout. The boys made snowballs, which they carried back to our rental van and placed in paper cups for safekeeping – until they melted.

A quiet rest stop along the scenic Seward Highway.

The Portage Valley and Kenai Peninsula are popular weekend destinations for Anchorage residents, but on weekdays the public parking areas are only a quarter full and the trails are quiet. We reveled in the peace and solitude that is so easy to find in Alaska.
The next two days were spent exploring the Kenai Peninsula, where a Princess lodge is perched on a bluff above the banks of the turquoise-blue Kenai River. This river is renowned for its salmon fishing but river rafting and hiking are among other activities pursued by guests at the lodge. One afternoon we drove to the fishing port of Seward where seafood restaurants overlook the harbour and sightseeing boats take visitors past sea arches and sea lion colonies to view the tidewater glaciers of Kenai Fjords National Park. Not to be missed is a visit to the Alaska SeaLife Center where sick, stranded or injured marine mammals and seabirds are brought to receive veterinary care.

On the drive back to the lodge, we turned off the Seward Highway where a valley road leads to Exit Glacier, which is part of Kenai Fjords National Park. This glacier once filled the valley floor with ice before beating a retreat into the mountains. Park visitors can hike along the edge of Exit Glacier where the Park Service maintains marked trails and offers ranger-led hikes.

Our week-long road trip was over all too soon as we checked out of the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge the next morning and headed back to Anchorage for our last night in a hotel before embarking on our cruise to Vancouver.

Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge overlooks the Kenai River.

Avatar photo About Anne Vipond

Anne Vipond is the author of several guidebooks to cruising destinations around the world. She draws on an extensive sailing background to impart her enthusiasm for cruise travel. From her home port of Vancouver, she travels by cruise ship to a wide range of destinations to keep her books current and useful for her cruise readers. Her cruising articles have been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and over seas.