Day 9 Grand Alaska Adventure: Kenai Penninsula

We awoke with the knowledge that we had only one more night in our RV and so much to  yet experience. Eight RV nights go so quickly yet we’ve taken our time and savored the small bits of Alaska we’ve been privileged to explore.  I’ve previously spent time on the Kenai and knew the beauty of the area and the rich diverse landscape we’d enjoy. So, morning found us back on the road and heading south.

Our first stop was Potter Marsh, just outside of Anchorage. I’ve driven by this area on numerous occasions yet never stopped to wander the boardwalk. Despite the winds and light rain we enjoyed wandering the elevated boardwalk and spotted several bald eagles and water fowl.

The cold drove us back to the RV and we continued down Turnagain Arm toward Portage Glacier. As we drove down the road toward the glacier each little scenic pull out and park caught our eye. Our list of “must stop here” locations on our way back grew!

Sadly the glacier has been in a dramatic retreat stage. At one point the glacier was nearly against the visitor center. Now, it’s nestled in the mountains across the lake. A beautiful but poignant reminder of our fragile environment.

A few other nearby glaciers offered a closer glimpse of the icy blues the ice reflects. 

On the way back to the main highway, we discovered a wonderful little state park with a salmon viewing platform. The campgrounds in this area would be a great destination for hikers and fishing.

One simply had to look down into the river to see salmon! While toward the end of spawning season, there was still an abundance of salmon jostling for their place in the river. 

We continued down to one of the pull outs that caught our eye. A beautiful spot right on a lake. Luckily there was a great little spot we could pull in parallel to the lake. Yes, I parallel parked an RV! Ok, so there were no cars anywhere near us, but still, I’m claiming it!

What a wonderful spot to dine, lake front views from our dining room window.

After lunch we continued south through some magnificent mountains and canyons on toward Cooper Landing. The scenery on the Kenai seems to condense all that Alaska has to offer in one relatively small package. Glaciers, marsh, rivers, mountains, oceans, canyons and more.

We had several campgrounds on our short list.  Despite Mom and Dad recommending the Kenai Princess RV Park (as in Princess Cruises fame) we scoffed at the need for a full-service lodge-like campground and sought out those managed by the US Forest Service.

First up was Quartz Creek Campground. Lovely heavily forested campground with several sites backing up to Kenai Lake. With Labor Day weekend approaching many prime spots were reserved but plenty available. Definitely a great campground.

We continued down the main road to see Cooper Landing itself and explore the Cooper Creek Campground. This small campground had several spots available directly on the river, but didn’t offer the charm of Quartz Creek, which we decided would be our home for our last night.

It had begun to drizzle again so we made a quick stop at the Landing to admire the beauty  of the river and chat with a local fishing guide awaiting his party. I would love to come back to the Landing and fish or take a rafting trip down the river. It’s simply gorgeous.

Back at the campground we found a spot across from the river and settled in.

One thing we enjoyed was walking the campground simply admiring the view. We explored the lake a bit, but after spotting several dead salmon washing up on shore and finding bear scat we meandered a bit closer to the campground loops. At least here we’d be less likely to surprise a bear!

As this was our last night we nursed a fire along. Unfortunately, the wood wasn’t dry enough for a roaring fire and required extensive care. But, we had it blazing.

We wrapped up our last night with a wonderful steak dinner to celebrate our Grand Alaska Adventure. The remainder of the night saw us pulling out our suitcases and packing. Our RV was due back at the rental facility fully fueled with gas and propane, inspected and checked in by 1pm.

Our flights weren’t until Saturday morning so we’d spend our last Alaska night back at the Springhill Suites in midtown with a rental car to continue exploring Anchorage. We planned to get an earlier start to allow time to drop our luggage at the hotel before returning the RV. No sense dragging heavy bags around.

We’ve had a great time in our RV and I’m nursing dreams of an RV of my own in the distant future. I could definitely see living a full-time RV lifestyle.

For now, it’s time to sleep on the shores of Kenai Lake.

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