by Klondike Kid
Finding Moose on the Kenai Peninsula
What would Alaska be without moose. This is probably the easiest big game animal to spot on the Kenai Peninsula. Although the population fluctuates from year to year, the Peninsula has several thousand animals roaming around. And they can be anywhere!
Since all the Peninsula towns are quite small (6500 or less), the woods are just a stone's throw away and so are the moose. It is not uncommon to see them right in town on occasion and especially during the winter. It is possible to spot them anywhere at any time so no truely "reliable" area is better than another. But there are some areas that should provide you a very good opportunity during the summer if you don't mind getting up early. Moose usually start feeding in the evening and feed all night. The early morning time is best for catching them out and about before they retire into the thickets for a nap. It also affords the photographer conditions of increasing light and will produce the best photos.
Since Alaska is famous for its LONG summer daylight, one should hit the road between 5 and 6am. (The sun has been up for a couple of hours already.) Drive the Swanson River Road system very slowly and check every opening in the woods and low brushy areas where they will still be feeding or crossing on their way to their bedding area. Search the edges of big tundra areas where the brush and trees begin. Low lying willow and alder bushes are a staple in their diets. Also check the weedy shorelines of lakes and ponds where they may be feeding on aquatic plants in the lake. Turn right onto the Swan Lake Road for eleven more miles of prime moose habitat and great scenery.
BEST BET! Another drive that will almost assure you of seeing a moose is the Sterling Highway between Soldotna and Homer. I drive this road many times during the summer at 5am and see as many as 30 moose on the tundra flats or along the willow lines at the edges of the trees. But by 6am or so they have all headed back into the timber. If you are heading down to Homer for an early morning halibut trip, give yourself a few extra minutes of travel time as you will most likely want to stop for a picture or two.
Another drive that will probably produce a few moose is from Soldotna to the foothills of the Kenai Mountains along the Sterling Highway. Vast areas of mixed tundra and spruce trees cover this area and moose can usually be seen somewhere along this route in the early morning.
One other drive that passes through prime moose country is the North Kenai Road. Head out of the town of Kenai on the North Road and just keep driving. The farther out you go the more wilderness you will encounter. The road passes many small and large lakes on the 27 mile drive to Captain Cook State Park. Beaver, muskrat and loons are also abundant in this area with the possilbility of seeing black bear on occasion. This area contains dense vegetation and viewing may be difficult.
BUT, as I said, moose are everywhere. Just keep your eyes open and concentrate on the evening or early morning times for the best opportunities.
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