Anchorage to Homer Driving Map

Driving non-stop from Anchorage to Homer would take a good 4.5-5 hours. However, you'll find plenty of reasons to pull over on the drive south: Wildlife often appears along the roadside. Pullouts offer photo opportunities of whales, waves, and volcanoes. Trailheads lead to fabulous alpine and ocean views. Restaurants offer lunch breaks beyond the usual fast-food fare. Enjoying all the scenery and activities along the way could easily stretch this trip into a daylong adventure. For those traveling by RV, here is our list of campgrounds on the Kenai Peninsula.

Explore History En Route

The Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area is a vibrant corridor of natural, cultural, and historic riches, and many sites are accessible as you travel from Anchorage to Homer. This dynamic area runs from the “Gateway City” of Seward north to Indian, and spans Whittier’s Prince William Sound port on the east to Cooper Landing on the west.

Although travelers can now drive to all of these communities within a few hours, early roads were often seasonal. Pack and dog team trails were a bargain to build at $100 per mile to construct and winter sled roads ran $250 per mile. Year-round wagon roads cost $2,200 a mile, but the ride through boggy areas wasn’t paved in gold. Large logs, infilled with gravel, were the roadbed in these low spots. Such “corduroy” roads were passable by horse team in the early 1900s.

Within these still-rugged miles is hidden a treasure trove of stories. From Native peoples to Russian fur traders, European explorers, and American gold prospectors, the quest for trade and treasures tested the limits of human endurance and inspired remarkable ingenuity. Discover the story as you explore the KMTA National Heritage Area.

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Driving Guide

Anchorage to Portage Turnoff

Here you’ll find one of the most acces­si­ble wildlife view­ing areas in Alas­ka. The marsh is a rest area for migra­to­ry birds includ­ing trum­peter swans, red­necked grebes, gold­en eyes, and pin­tails. Also watch for beavers, moose and bald eagles. You may even spot salmon spawn­ing in the deep­er water.

This rest area is the site of a rail­road sec­tion house. The restored house and its out­build­ings were built by the Alas­ka Rail­road to house the sec­tion fore­man and his fam­i­ly. The fore­man was respon­si­ble for main­tain­ing a 10-mile stretch of rail­road track. You’ll find an old train car and rotary plow that used by the sec­tion fore­man to clear snow off the tracks in win­ter. This is a fun stop for kids to take a look at rail­road his­to­ry and…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 9 miles

Old­er books might have referred to this as the old John­son Trail, but anoth­er trail of the same name on the Kenai Penin­su­la made it too con­fus­ing for them to both keep their names. This trail is the first of the trails avail­able for hik­ing in the spring. It fol­lows the high­way, with mild ele­va­tion gains to allow awe­some views of the Tur­na­gain Arm. 

Difficulty: Moderate

With just a short walk from the park­ing area you will find a beau­ti­ful 20 foot water fall. The trail­head starts off par­al­lel­ing the Tur­na­gain Arm and there are a num­ber of small trails that go to dif­fer­ent look­outs. Take the trail to the left for a short dis­tance and you will find the McHugh Trail branch­ing off to the right. The trail zig-zags upward through the woods and pro­vides ever bet­ter views of the Tur­na­gain Arm and mountains. 

This is a pop­u­lar stop as you trav­el the Seward High­way. Here you’ll find 180 degree views of Tur­na­gain Arm with spot­ting scopes and inter­pre­tive signs. Look for bel­u­ga whales rolling in the surf, often seen from mid-July to August fol­low­ing the salmon run. And, try and catch the bore tide, and incom­ing tide that stretch­es the entire width of Tur­na­gain Arm and can be up to six feet high.

The pre­mier spot to view wild Dall sheep in Alas­ka (and maybe the whole con­ti­nent) looms over one of the state’s busiest high­ways only 20 miles south of Anchorage.

This mine played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the ear­ly set­tling of the Tur­na­gain Arm. The build­ing here are on the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of his­toric places and the mine is unique because of its asso­ci­a­tion with load min­ing. Indi­an Val­ley Mine was found­ed in 1910 by a vagabond who ran away from home at the age of 12, joined the cir­cus and then final­ly trav­eled to Alas­ka dur­ing the gold rush. The Cowles fam­i­ly will tell you all about the his­to­ry of this…  ...more

This is one spot you don’t want to miss. July through Sep­tem­ber you’ll wit­ness a spec­tac­u­lar run of Sil­ver Salmon. Fish­er­men from all over the world come into Alas­ka to cast a line here.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles

This hike is pop­u­lar in spring for those look­ing for an aer­o­bic work­out. It is very steep, but offers secure foot­ing. One of many high­lights along the scenic Seward High­way, Bird Ridge Trail climbs 3,000 feet in a lit­tle more than a mile to mag­nif­i­cent views of the fjord-like Tur­na­gain Arm. 

Here’s anoth­er great stop to take in the scenic beau­ty of the moun­tains and the Tur­na­gain Arm. Here you can access the Bird to Gird paved mul­ti use path­way. From this spot it’s a six-mile jour­ney down the trail, which fea­tures stun­ning views and inter­pre­tive signs. Take a walk or a bike ride to Gird­wood for a bite to eat. And don’t for­get to look for Bel­u­ga whales a few hours before high tide (as they come in with the tide to feed on the…  ...more

The 1964 Earth­quake dev­as­tat­ed trans­porta­tion routes from Anchor­age to Seward. A dar­ing res­cue of the rail bridge over Twen­ty-Mile Creek helped keep the line open in the days fol­low­ing the quake.

Season: Year Round $25

At the 200-acre Alas­ka Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Cen­ter, see Alaskan wildlife up close. The center’s mis­sion is to pro­vide refuge for orphaned, injured, and ill ani­mals — those that can’t sur­vive in the wild. The cen­ter, which opened to the pub­lic in 1993, edu­cates vis­i­tors about Alaska’s wildlife. Coy­otes peer out from behind the brush while a bald eagle swoops in on the salmon remains left by a griz­zly bear. Wood Bison plod through 65 acres of tidal  ...more

Portage Val­ley south­east of Anchor­age at the head of Tur­na­gain Arm offers so many poten­tial adven­tures that you might have to tow a trail­er loaded with gear to sam­ple them all. What will you find here? Bik­ing, hik­ing, pic­nick­ing, fish­ing, pad­dling, wildlife view­ing, poten­tial ice­berg sight­ings — plus a nat­ur­al his­to­ry vis­i­tor cen­ter packed with inter­ac­tive dis­plays about the ecosys­tem of the val­ley and Prince William Sound. It’s like an outdoor  ...more

Portage Turnoff to Sterling Highway Cutoff

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 23 miles

The wild­flow­ers are abun­dant and ver­dant under­growth can be check high some­times. Most of the trail lies below tree­line, so there are estab­lished camp clear­ings along the way that are nes­tled into the trees. One of the best camp­sites is 10 miles in from the north­ern trail­head, set among trees on a spruce-cov­ered knoll look­ing over the trail and Bench Lake.

Turn here for a scenic dri­ve to an off-the-beat­en-path town that sits on the edge of Tur­na­gain Arm. Estab­lished in the 1890’s, it was one of the first gold min­ing towns in Alas­ka. Many of the town’s orig­i­nal build­ings are still stand­ing, includ­ing the Seav­iew Café and Bar. There’s still a hitch­ing post in front of the mer­can­tile, just in case you decide to bring your horse. Hope is also known to have suf­fered the some of the worst damage…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 10 miles

Well-main­tained and suit­able for sum­mer hik­ing and bik­ing, the 10-mile Devil’s Pass Trail fea­tures a steep route up a spec­tac­u­lar V‑shaped val­ley that inter­sects with the Res­ur­rec­tion Pass Trail and a rental cab­in in the alpine realm. The coun­try is rugged, with great access to cross-coun­try tun­dra explo­ration and berry picking.

Sterling Highway

Locat­ed at the inter­sec­tion of the Seward and Ster­ling high­ways at Mile­post 37. This area hosts a myr­i­ad of ani­mals, birds, fish, and unique plants. Com­mon loons, bald eagles, and arc­tic terns share the area with a vari­ety of song­birds and shore­birds like the north­ern water thrush, gold­en-crowned spar­row, and the greater yel­lowlegs. Beavers, riv­er otters, muskrats, and salmon ply the cold, clear waters of Tern Lake. Moose, Dall sheep, and…  ...more

Season: Mid-May – Mid-Sept $249+

This 86-room lodge not only has end­less views over a vast val­ley, but it also sits on the banks of the Kenai Riv­er, which teems with fish. With vault­ed ceil­ings made of nat­u­ral­ly fin­ished wood, cozy sit­ting areas with wood-burn­ing stoves and pri­vate porch­es, it’s easy to feel like the whole place is yours. The area is famous for its fish­ing, but you also have easy access to Kenai Fjords Nation­al Park, a wild land filled with glac­i­ers, marine  ...more

This wildlife sweet spot is worth a vis­it. The Russ­ian Lakes Trail begins off the access road to the Russ­ian Riv­er Camp­ground in Coop­er Land­ing, at mile­post 52 of the Ster­ling High­way. Get off-the-beat­en path, hike two miles to the falls and enjoy the imme­di­ate reward of spec­tac­u­lar salmon viewing. 

This 18-mile-long loop grav­el road is the pre­mier wildlife-view­ing area on the Kenai Penin­su­la, and you’ll get spec­tac­u­lar views of lakes and glac­i­ers. Don’t for­get to stop and explore all the nature and wildlife around you! 

This 18-mile-long loop grav­el road is the pre­mier wildlife-view­ing area on the Kenai Penin­su­la, and you’ll get spec­tac­u­lar views of lakes and glac­i­ers. Don’t for­get to stop and explore all the nature and wildlife around you! 

If you have your own canoe or kayak, stop for a pad­dle on Ski­lak Lake, locat­ed in the Kenai Nation­al Wildlife Refuge. For a quick hike with good views, go down Ski­lak Lake Road, past Hid­den Lake camp­ground, to Ski­lak Lake Look­out Trail. Get a glimpse of Ski­lak Glac­i­er and look out over the lake. You can be up and back in 11.5 hours. Up for some­thing longer? Here are two good day hikes: Depend­ing on time, tack­le the Sky­line Trail. Right…  ...more

This lit­tle town 10 miles north­east of Sol­dot­na shares its name with the high­way that cuts through the Kenai Penin­su­la. Iron­i­cal­ly, one of the best rea­sons to pull over here is to steer a dif­fer­ent kind of vehi­cle: a canoe. The Swan Lake Canoe Route starts 12 miles down Swan Lake Rd and offers a 17-mile float into town on the Moose Riv­er and over 60 miles of lakes and short portages, great for every­thing from day trips to week-long…  ...more

As the sis­ter city of Kenai, the town of Sol­dot­na is in many ways the heart of the Kenai Penin­su­la. As proof of its fish­ing mec­ca sta­tus, the 97-lb world record salmon was caught here; you’ll find more ele­vat­ed fish­ing plat­forms here than any­where else, which helps pro­tect the waters for fish and anglers to come. One hun­dred forty miles from Anchor­age, Sol­dot­na offers pret­ty much any activ­i­ty that fits with the Kenai’s play­ground” vibe,…  ...more

At the Sol­dot­na dump you can some­times see sev­er­al hun­dred eagles at once. 

The town of Kasilof (pro­nounced kuh-SEE-loff) has a lot of the great activ­i­ties that oth­er Kenai Penin­su­la towns do — fish­ing, camp­ing and wildlife view­ing. But this tiny town 15 miles south of Sol­dot­na, on the Ster­ling High­way, is also a vibrant dog sled­ding com­mu­ni­ty — while here you can vis­it the ken­nel of Dean Osmar, an Idi­tar­od cham­pi­on, and take a ride behind cham­pi­on dogs. The best fish­ing is at the Kasilof Riv­er and John­son Lake — both…  ...more

The Alas­ka Depart­ment of Fish & Game oper­ate the Crooked Creek hatch­ery, adult salmon may be viewed mov­ing up the stream and fish­way into the hatch­ery race­ways; king salmon in late June and ear­ly July and coho salmon in late August and Sep­tem­ber. Each salmon is iden­ti­fied and count­ed as it swims through the chute using an under­wa­ter video camera.

Sounds Wild: Porky Babies­Porcu­pines are not often seen along the main paved roads of the Kenai Penin­su­la. You have to get off on the grav­el side roads that pass through their habi­tat. Tus­tu­me­na Lake road trav­els through the Kenai Wildlife Refuge and ends at the Kasilof Riv­er camp­ground. This road is great for view­ing var­i­ous birds includ­ing spruce grouse, thrush­es and chick­adees. Moose are found along this road and if you are real­ly lucky, a…  ...more

the recre­ation area pro­vides pic­nic sites, shel­ters, camp­sites, water and toi­lets. There are excel­lent views of Cook Inlet, the Aleut­ian Moun­tain Range and its three tallest peaks: Mount Iliamna, Mount Redoubt and Mount Spur. There are 125 camp­sites, and the RV size lim­it is 35′. Note: The Depart­ment of Fish & Game has closed clam­ming at Clam Gulch for the last sev­er­al years. Please check the cur­rent sta­tus before harvesting.   ...more

Stop at the Scenic View RV Park for a breath­tak­ing view of four vol­ca­noes. Mt. Iliamna, Mt. Redoubt, Mt. Augus­tine and Mt. Spurr. These smol­der­ing moun­tains are part of the pacif­ic ring of fire” with Mt. Redoubt erupt­ing as recent­ly as March 2009. Look for the inter­pre­tive sign to learn more about Alas­ka volcanoes. 

Russ­ian fur traders col­o­nized this fish­ing vil­lage in 1820. Steeped in the his­to­ry of ear­ly Russ­ian Amer­i­ca, it offers an old-world set­ting with its Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church on the hill, quaint fish­er­men’s cot­tages and log homes. Infor­ma­tion signs tell the his­to­ry of Ninilchik and walk­ing tour maps are avail­able at local busi­ness­es. A trail leads to the church and ceme­tery on the hill. The road con­tin­ues to the beach where camp­sites are available.  ...more

Many events are held here through­out the year, the largest being the Kenai Penin­su­la Fair held annu­al­ly the 3rd week­end in August. Locals call this the biggest lit­tle fair in Alas­ka. The fes­tiv­i­ties include a rodeo, parade, live­stock com­pe­ti­tion, horse show and exhibits rang­ing from arts and crafts to produce.

King salmon enter Deep Creek dur­ing late May and ear­ly June and con­tin­ue to spawn into ear­ly July. Watch for their dark red bod­ies in the rif­fles and deep­er holes. A very lim­it­ed fish­ing sea­son is pro­vid­ed dur­ing the ear­ly sum­mer for kings and steelheads.

This tiny town along the Ster­ling High­way may be known as North America’s Most West­er­ly High­way Point,” but it has anoth­er, less­er pub­li­cized claim to fame: this is where locals love to come fish. In the spring, it’s king salmon, fol­lowed by Dol­ly Var­den and sil­ver salmon in the sum­mer; in the fall, you can catch steel­head until freeze-up. Non-anglers here will enjoy beach­comb­ing, brows­ing the art stu­dios and gift shops, watch­ing a…  ...more

Wit­ness giant trac­tors tow­ing the Kenai Penin­su­la’s fleet out to water’s edge and launch­ing them into the tide on their quest for fish. You can camp here, scout for wildlife, fish for steel­head, and enjoy some of the best puf­fin view­ing on the Kenai.

Vis­i­tors dri­ving down to Homer (south west from Anchor­age) find a per­fect pull out rest stop on the right side of the high­way on the hill above town. From this van­tage, they get a pre­view of the plea­sures to come. Fish­ing boats’ win­dows twin­kle out in Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay, the Spit stretch­es half way across Kachemak Bay, and the snowy moun­tains on far side of the bay, embrac­ing Kachemak Bay State Park, plus of course the the town itself.  ...more

The Homer Spit is a long, nar­row fin­ger of land jut­ting 4.5 miles into Kachemak Bay. Dot­ted with busi­ness­es, the area caters to vis­i­tors and pro­vides numer­ous recre­ation oppor­tu­ni­ties, from fish­ing and beach­comb­ing to shop­ping and boating.