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Getting Outside

The towns of the region are like beads strung along the laces of the highways; everything else is wilderness. You can find all the activities and isolation you seek here, yet the presence of the towns means that comfort is closer at hand than in other parts of Alaska.

Chugach National Forest takes in all of Prince William Sound and most of the eastern Kenai Peninsula. At 5.3 million acres, it's more than double the size of Yellowstone National Park. Anywhere else but Alaska, it would be a national park, and one of the largest and most spectacular, with some of the best sea kayaking, hiking, backpacking, wildlife-watching, and scenery anywhere.

Kenai Fjords National Park protects the outer edge and ice cap of the Kenai Peninsula's southern side. The park is incomparable in its remoteness, stark beauty, and abundance of marine wildlife. Access is through Seward.

On the peninsula's western side, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge has Alaska's most accessible wilderness lake and river canoeing as well as extraordinary fishing, with access from roads near Soldotna.

Kachemak Bay State Park offers good sea-kayaking waters and wilderness hiking not connected to any road. The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge protects the wildlife habitat of remote islands and seashores around the state.

Visitor Information -- The best place to get outdoor information about the region is the Alaska Public Lands Information Center, 605 W. 4th Ave., Ste. 105, Anchorage, AK 99501 (tel. 866/869-6887 or 907/644-3661; www.alaskacenters.gov). You can talk with rangers who have spent time in the places you'll be visiting, and there are exhibits on the wildlife and outdoor opportunities in the region -- even maps showing where to find various species of fish. Land agencies provide information on the whole state, and the bookstore is well stocked with maps, field guides, and such. Summer hours are daily from 9am to 5pm, winter Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.