At the heart of the Kenai Peninsula is the city of Kenai (Kee-Nie). With a population of 7,100, Kenai is full of breathtaking scenery and amazing wildlife, it also has a prolific history of native and Russian settlements and culture. Kenai was incorporated in 1960 and is 29 square miles. This is the place to go if you are looking for an Alaskan adventure and it also provides something for everyone. The Kenai River is known worldwide for its fishing. Oil, natural gas, commercial fishing and tourism are Kenai’s industries. Kenai has it all! It is just a short drive to get to Soldotna, Kasilof, Sterling, Nikiski, Homer, and Seward and is only a 2.5 hour drive or 30 minute plane ride to Anchorage.
If you have always had the desire to observe wildlife within its natural habitat than Kenai is your destination! About 90% of the Kenai Peninsula is wilderness so it is a great location to get out and explore. There is one black bear per square mile on the Kenai. Black or brown bears may be spotted from your vehicle, from your boat as you float by them on the river banks, or up on the mountainside while hiking our miles of trails. If you are looking for a great place to view all sorts of wild animals, then Kenai is the place for you! The Kenai River flats are often called home to snow geese and even moose.
There are many different ways to go flightseeing while in Kenai. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Kenai from airplanes, seaplanes and helicopters. Enjoy the breathtaking views from the air as you fly over the Kenai Fjords National Park, Lake Clark National Park, the Chugach National Forest and even the Kachemak Bay State Park. Flightseeing also provides you access to remote fishing areas and hiking trails.
If golf is your game then you do not want to miss the Kenai golf course! Enjoy the challenging course that also offers many magnificent views. The Kenai golf course is one of the only places where you can tee up under the midnight sun and play golf in the middle of the night with regulation balls. Don’t be too surprised if caribou or moose play through, it is all part of the remarkable experience of golfing in the last frontier. Where else besides Alaska can you enjoy all that?
The Challenger Learning Center of Alaska is located in Kenai and is a private, nonprofit corporation that has been in operation since 2000. It is the thirty-ninth of fifty-two centers in the Challenger Learning Center for Space Science Education network, a program created in 1986 by the families of the astronauts lost in the Challenger51-L mission. The CLCA uses simulated space and earth science missions, distance education and hands-on workshops to inspire youth to develop an interest in science, technology, engineering and math which are used to help them consider career in these fields.
The 82 mile long Kenai River runs westward from the Kenai Lake in the Kenai Mountains, through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and Skilak Lake to its outlet into the Cook Inlet of the Pacific Ocean in Kenai. The river is the most popular fishing destination in the state of Alaska, particularly for king or chinook salmon. There are two runs of king salmon, silver salmon and red salmon each year and a run of pink salmon every other year. In 1985 the world record king salmon, weighing in at 97 pounds, was caught on the Kenai River. The Kenai is known for its large fish.
The silver salmon runs occur in early August and late September. The September run is favored by local anglers due to the larger size of the silvers. The red salmon runs are in late-June and late-July, reds are considered the premier salmon for eating, canning and smoking. The pink salmon run occurs in even numbered years only. These fish are often considered pests by many anglers because they interfere with catching other species and because by the time they reach inland freshwater their meat may be soft and oily compared to other species. Nevertheless, fishing for pinks can be a real treat! On a heavy day, even a casual fisher might catch several dozen.
There are a few schools too choose from in Kenai when deciding where to send your child for their education and all of them are a part of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Aurora Borealis Charter School is a school that serves grades K-8. It is one of only a few schools in the state of Alaska to receive a distinguished GreatSchools Rating of 9 out of 10. Kaleidoscope School of Arts & Sciences is a charter elementary school. It received a distinguished GreatSchools Rating of 8 out of 10. Mountain View Elementary is a public elementary school that serves students grades K-5. Kenai Middle School serves grades 6-8. Kenai Middle received a distinguished GreatSchools Rating of 9 out of 10. Kenai Central High School offers classes for grades 9-12 and received a distinguished GreatSchools Rating of 9 out of 10. There is also the Kenai Alternative School for grades 9-12. Kenai Alternative received a distinguished GreatSchools Rating of 5 out of 10.