I planned a nice little camping trip to the Kenai Peninsula for the 4th of July. We were traveling from Palmer, Alaska about 260 miles south to Homer, Alaska; which is about a 5 1/2 hour trip if you don’t stop much. On our way out of the Anchorage area, we stopped and got something to eat at Village Inn for dinner. We did this because we were leaving right after the guys got off of work and just packed up and headed out.
I did not reserve any camping spots as I wanted to “wing” it. This was sort of a test of which campgrounds get the most traffic on the 4th of July. I will have to say that MOST of the campgrounds were jam-packed with 4th of July campers and any empty spots usually had reservation tags on their posts. I don’t mind primitive camping but we hoped to find one with a bathroom due to so many in our group. We had my husband and I, our 18 year old daughter, our 17 year old son, our 12 year old son, our 20 year old nephew, and our large dog.
We did find a great spot for the first night on July 3rd at Morgan’s Landing in Sterling, Alaska. This area is just outside of Soldotna and, since it was well off the highway, it was very quiet. After passing the Moose River on the other side of Sterling, you will find the signs that point to Morgan’s Landing State Recreation Area. This campground has 51 campsites and they are $10 per night. There are many pull-throughs for RV’s and trails that lead down to the Kenai River. This was a very quiet campground, the bathrooms were super clean, and the mosquitoes were moderate. We got in very late and had to very quietly set up camp.
After having breakfast (eggs and bacon) we broke camp and headed south towards Homer. We checked out a few campgrounds on the way down but realized that we must avoid the Kasilof River area due to the heavy amount of dipnetters in the area. Dipnetting is an Alaskan subsistence way of getting fish and it is allowed in only a few rivers.
So, heading past the Kasilof area, we ventured closer to the Ninilchik area. Ninilchik is a Russian Village from back in the days of the purchase of Alaska. They have an old Russian Orthodox church which is a popular stop for tourists and the village has some stores and gift shops that you can visit. We liked the area for the beach access. But we decided to move on and check out the other areas closer to Homer.
Just before reaching Homer, you will want to stop at the top of the hill and check out the view of the Kachemak Bay and the Homer Spit from up above. It is a popular stop and a must see photo opportunity. And then driving down into Homer, you will just stay on the road to head right down onto the Homer Spit. This is also a must see and is most definitely a popular spot on the 4th of July. The spit was super packed and it was honestly a bit unnerving trying to dodge all of the people crossing in front of you. All of the camping sites were over-full and so we just walked around and had some ice cream at one of the little shops.
We ran around Homer for a little bit and then decided to head back towards Ninilchik for the night. We would have rather camped in Anchor Point on the Anchor River but all 5 of their campgrounds were packed full also. Note to self: Get reservations at the Anchor River Campgrounds ahead of time as it was gorgeous there! Now back to the Ninilchik River Campground.
Luckily, the campground was not completely full, even for the 4th of July. The Ninilchik River Campground was based not too far away from the Ninilchik River, the beach access road, and the village of Ninilchik. The campground was $10 per night and there was no host but a park ranger drove through twice. We had BBQ Chicken and baked sweet potatoes for dinner. It was a nice quiet campground but you could still hear the highway vehicles. We weren’t the most quiet campers though, as we had brought those celebration pop-its that you can buy at the store and the kids had a blast with those.
On the night of the 4th, you could hear fireworks being set off in the nearby village. And then the next morning, I heard the Alaska State Trooper pulling over vehicles on the highway. But all in all, this campground was fantastic! There were very few mosquitoes and the bathrooms were very clean.
On the morning of the 5th, after a breakfast of corned beef hash and boiled eggs, we headed over to the beach and spent some time wandering around and enjoying the slight breeze that had rolled in. After spending the morning on the beach in Ninilchik we decided to head back over to the Anchor River for some lunch (sausage dogs and mandarin oranges) and a little trout fishing. That was a great call and we had an awesome picnic lunch there. We didn’t catch anything but there were some small fish running all around the boys while they played in the water.
That afternoon, we decided to head back to Homer to check out Bishop Beach. That was a great call as we hit the area at a perfect low tide. The kids all enjoyed running around the tide pools and checking out all of the little critters under the rocks and we found a ton of shells. It was a bit windy as there was a rain system moving in. But all in all, it was a great time and one that the kids will remember for a very long time. Totally perfect day!
As we headed back to our camp in Ninilchik, we noticed a large amount of clouds moving in and the wind started to feel cold. We made our dinner (hamburgers) that evening in camp and discussed whether we wanted to spend another night with a chance of breaking camp in the rain in the morning or just pack up now and make the long 6 hour drive home that night. We decided to break camp and drive home that night. We were glad we did that as we woke up the next morning to a rain storm outside and we knew that we would have been soaked while taking down the camp.
Well, that pretty much sums up our 4th of July trip and the fun that we had on the Kenai Peninsula. :) I hope that you enjoy the pictures that I have posted within my narrative and if you are ever in Alaska for the 4th of July, please remember to make your reservations ahead of time for any campgrounds that you may want to stay at.