From ice fields and glaciers to tundra, forests, and coastal wetlands, the Kenai Refuge is often called “Alaska in miniature." Biodiversity is unusually high for this latitude because of the juxtaposition of two biomes: Sitka spruce-dominated coastal rainforest and the western-most reach of boreal forest in North America. This refuge is known for its moose, brown and black bears, lynx, wolves, trumpeter swans, and more. The Kenai River, which originates in the refuge, is renowned for its wide variety of sport fish including Chinook (king), sockeye (red), and coho (silver) salmon, Dolly Varden and rainbow trout. This refuge, including the Kenai Wilderness, is an anchor for biodiversity on the Kenai Peninsula in a time of change - including development downstream, changing climatic conditions, and change through fire.
Alaska's most-visited refuge is nearly two million acres in size. World-class fishing, camping, and hiking opportunities draw people from Alaska and around the world. The Swanson River and Swan Lake Canoe Trails are one of three such wilderness trail systems in the United States and provide an opportunity to really get into the backcountry.
There are 14 rustic public use cabins located in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Getting there can be a thrilling adventure in itself, as most require the use of boats, aircraft, hiking, or skiing.
Before embarking onto the refuge, we encourage you to visit our visitor center in Soldotna, Alaska. We present programs for visitors and local residents year-round. Our partner bookstore, Alaska Geographic, offers natural history-themed books, cards, gifts and educational curios and a portion of all sales directly support refuge education and outreach programs.
Location and Contact Information
Since 1999, staff at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge have contributed articles to the Refuge Notebook, a weekly newspaper column in the Peninsula Clarion. Topics range from species life histories, scientific findings and management issues to upcoming environmental education opportunities, public use, refuge history, and staff experiences.