Kenai National Wildlife Refuge  

 Alaska’s most-visited national wildlife refuge is famous for fish – BIG fish.

Located just two hours south of the state’s largest city, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge protects much of the watershed of the world-renowned Kenai River, which produces salmon that can grow to almost 100 pounds. Fishermen often have to make way on the riverbanks for grizzly bears that come for their own shot at those tasty salmon. Rafters can drift through the scenic Kenai canyon and there’s plenty of good hiking and camping that’s easily accessible from the main highway coming out of Anchorage.

First established in 1941 as the Kenai National Moose Range, the refuge still has plenty of the iconic animals, often seen along the popular Swan Lake-Swanson River canoe trails. Caribou graze the upland tundra, while Dall sheep claim the rocky high elevations, safe from bears and wolves. You might find the mysterious ice worm in the glaciers of the Harding Ice Field, which spill down the inland side of the Chugach Mountains. Waterfowl and shorebirds by the thousands find refuge on the Chickaloon Flats, a roadless saltwater estuary just across the Turnagain Arm from Anchorage.

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