Introduction to the Episode
Welcome to the twenty-ninth episode of Locals Know Best! I’m your host, Cindy. I’m a full-time RVer and lover of all things travel-related. Years of adventuring on the road have taught me one fundamental lesson; locals ALWAYS know best! Every episode of this podcast will dive into one local’s perfect day of outdoor adventure in their town!
Today, I’ll be speaking with Jon Taylor about how to make the most of an outdoorsy trip throughout the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska.
This episode is sure to put you under the spell of the north. Join Jon and me as we enjoy the Kenai peninsula as an adventure-loving local would!
Our discussion is chock full of outdoor experiences, including sea kayaking, flying ourselves to epic fishing locations, hiking, and fat tire biking the beach! Also, as you would expect, there’s tons of mountain, glacier, bear, and Alaskan National Park chat along the way!
About Jon Taylor
Jon is a pilot, traveler, musician, and the Creative Director for the Strategic Marketing Agency known as Divining Point.
He started his career as a commercial photographer. During that time, he discovered the camera often unlocked access to some of the most beautiful places.
His talents include brand strategy, photography, videography, and graphic design for businesses in multiple industries.
He is known for his vision and creative eye, which give him the ability to conceive stunning visuals and rich storytelling that are sure to evoke emotion from the viewers.
Also, being a pilot, Jon gets to go where no roads will take you, which, turns out, is actually most of Alaska!
He has a lot of passion for hiking, camping, biking, bourbon tasting, and snow machining, and he says he’s married the most beautiful Alaskan that’s ever emerged from the snow.
If you’ve ever dreamt of exploring Alaska like a local, don’t miss this episode! He does an incredible job of explaining why Kenai is the perfect place to home base from for all of your future Alaskan adventures!
Listen to the Episode
What We Cover in This Episode
- The draw to Alaska that’s stronger than moose, bears, and mountains.
- What makes Alaskans “the most independent people in America,” and why it matters.
- Why Alaska is a great place to start a business.
- How photography can open doors for creatives.
- What makes the Kenai peninsula stand out from anywhere else in Alaska!
- Kenai’s sister cities on the peninsula, and what each one has to offer.
- How traveling in Alaska compares to how you are probably used to traveling, and what makes it so different.
- Where to go to see otters, seals, and to sea kayak.
- Why Kenai is “the perfect place to start your Alaskan adventure.”
- What it’s like to live in Alaska in the winter.
- How to book an early morning fishing excursion – the quintessential Alaskan experience – where you also get to fly the plane!
- The best way to view mountains, glaciers, and bears.
- How cruising Alaska is different than seeing Alaska via the car or a small plane.
- What times are better for a car in Alaska, and what times are better for a small plane.
- The best way, and time of day, to view Denali.
- A local’s favorite Alaskan national park – with tips – including – why, the best way to get there, and what to do when you arrive.
- The best place to stay in Kenai, Alaska.
- The best restaurant to get breakfast in Kenai, Alaska, and what to order.
- “The most intense one and a half mile hike you have ever done in your life.”
- A great lunch spot near the above-mentioned intense hike.
- A few recommended beach activities to take part in back in Kenai.
- A delicious locally sourced bistro recommended for dinner, and “the only place [Jon] recommend[s] getting a cocktail in Alaska.”
- Another dinner option, perfect for anyone who wants an excursion combined with their dinner.
- Why you should be careful going to Alaska in July.
- Where to get the best Instagram photos in Kenai.
- What Jon thinks people most miss out on when visiting the Kenai peninsula.
- A few additional hike recommendations on the Kenai peninsula.
- How to best prepare for hiking in Alaska.
- How to protect yourself from Alaskan bears and moose.
Jon’s Kenai, AK Travel Itinerary Map
The real draw for Alaska wasn’t necessarily the mountains or the bears or the moose or the rivers. It was the people. As a very independent people, they consider themselves the most independent in America, and that’s debatable, but really, I mean, they’re furthest away from everybody else, and there’s certain self reliancy, but with that comes a certain dependence on other people. And so you’ll never be turned down if you need help.Jon Taylor
I tell anybody that’s planning to live in Alaska, don’t be afraid to just put yourself out there because everybody’s waiting for you.Jon Taylor
So when people are going to be going to Alaska, they’re planning a vacation, a lot of times they’ll send me a quick message. Hey, got any tips, any plans, anything. And I always tell them the same thing. You’re going to land in Anchorage, and as you are starting your descent (flying up from the lower 48) look out the window. It’s absolutely beautiful. And then you land in Anchorage and all those beautiful things you saw when you were landing, that’s all down on the Kenai peninsula. That’s where it’s at.Jon Taylor
In Alaska, there is a very high possibility that things won’t go the way you planned. Alaska does want to kill you. So you have to come prepared for that. And don’t just wander off into the wilderness. Stay on the trails, hike with a friend, bring your bear spray. Even if you have a GPS beacon, even for the easy trails, just bring it because I’ve had too many friends that have had very close encounters. So, my suggestion is, play it safe. If you’re going to hike in Alaska, it’s not like hiking in other places. … I think that sometimes there’s an effort to say, you know, come to Alaska it’s for everybody, and it is. But I think it’s also important to say, come to Alaska and please be careful. This isn’t like your normal tour of Carlsbad Caverns, where you’ve got a tour guide, and you’re riding in a Jeep. This is a serious place where serious things can happen. And that’s why you should come here in the first place because you’re actually getting the real experience of nature.Jon Taylor
Links to Places Mentioned in this Episode
Where to Stay in the Kenai, AK Area:
- Miller’s Landing Sea Kayaking – The company Cindy went out with from Seward
- Tanalian Falls Trailhead
- Kenai Aviation
- Alaska West Air Inc.
- Cooper Landing
- Skyline Trail
- Quartz Creek Airport-Jia
- Kenai Beach
- Ismailof Island
- Old Town Kenai Park
- Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church
- Russian Lakes Trail Upper & Lower – Designated backcountry campsites at Russian River Rendzvous, Barber Cabin Trail, mile 5.7, mile 7.7, Upper Russian Lake (mile 11.9), mile 17, and mile 19.2 (distances from lower end).
- Russian River Falls Trailhead
Kenai, AK Area Restaurants Mentioned in this Episode:
- Louie’s Steak & Seafood
- Custom Seafoods
- Sunrise Inn
- The Flats Bistro
- Kenai Joe’s Taphouse
- Seven Glaciers Restaurant
- Captain Pattie’s Fish House
- The Saltry Restaurant
- Veronica’s Cafe
Kenai, AK Area Landmarks and Cities Mentioned in this Episode:
- Kenai Peninsula
- Turnagain Arm
- Kenai River
- Mount Redoubt
- Lake Clark Pass
- Port Alsworth
- Cook Inlet
- Mount Spurr
- Iliamna Volcano
- Mount Saint Augustine Volcano
Other Further Away Destinations Mentioned in this Episode:
- Kenai Fjords National Park
- Denali National Park and Preserve
- Wonder Lake Campground – Where Cindy Camped in Denali NP
- Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
- Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Thanks for Listening!
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