April 3, 2024

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge consists of the western slopes of the Kenai Mountains and forested lowlands bordering Cook Inlet and comprises 1.92 million acres. The lowlands include spruce and birch forests intermingled with hundreds of glacier-fed lakes. The Kenai Mountains rise to more than 6,000 feet, creating the southeastern boundary of the refuge. The wildlife refuge is a microcosm of Alaska, with a diverse range of habitat types ranging from the mountains and treeless alpine areas to boreal forests, wetlands and lakes.

View overlooking Skilak Lake

As noted on the US Fish and Wildlife Service website, the biodiversity is “unusually high for this latitude” because of the mix of the Sitka spruce-dominated coastal rainforest (of which our home office of Girdwood is a part of) and the reach of the boreal forest.

The refuge was established to protect moose populations, Dall sheep, mountain goats, wolves, bald eagles and both brown and black bears. It is also home to a small, but thriving caribou herd and numerous undisturbed spawning grounds for the prolific salmon runs of the Kenai Peninsula (the refuge is also the origin of the Kenai River).

Mountains and rocks in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Several of our Alaska Adventures include opportunities to explore within the boundaries of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Our top-rated Kenai Backcountry Lodge, situated along the shoreline of glacier-carved Skilak Lake and accessible only by boat, offers an ideal wilderness experience deep within these protected lands. Contact us to learn more about booking an adventure that includes this amazing refuge.

Moose in the tall grass

More information about this national treasure can be found on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website (including a great map showing the boundaries of the refuge) and from our friends at Travel Alaska.