The United States Congress designated the Kenai Wilderness (map
) in 1980 and it now has a total of 1,354,247 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Alaska
and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
For almost 100 years, the Kenai Peninsula has attracted hunters of moose, Dall sheep, and other wild game. In 1941 President Roosevelt designated more than 1.7 million acres as the Kenai National Moose Range. In 1980 the Moose Range was expanded to almost two million acres, renamed the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and well over half of it was designated Wilderness. The area comprises the western slopes of the Kenai Mountains with their ancient glaciers rising to 6,612 feet, nine river systems (many originating from the expansive Harding Ice Field), and the spruce-birch lowland forest that extends to the shores of Cook Inlet.
Unlike most of Alaska's wildlands, Kenai lies near Anchorage and draws scores of human visitors to its scenic grandeur (only 17 wildlife refuges in the entire United States receive more visitors). More than 200 miles of established trails give access to much of the backcountry. Hundreds of splendid small lakes are accessible through a system of canoe trails, including the popular Swanson River Canoe Trail. Fishing brings many people to the area, including fly-ins to more remote lakes. Motorized boats are allowed on the larger lakes but not on the canoe trails. Kenai produces an abundant crop of wild berries. Brown bears are relatively scarce here except in the less-visited places. Many species of mammals and birds call Kenai home. The howling of wolves often breaks the night stillness. Be prepared for insects.