Plan Ahead and Prepare
Choose realistic goals, bring proper gear, learn backcountry skills, know the terrain, and make contingency plans. It’s not only important for your safety; good planning makes it easier to leave no trace in the backcountry.
- Be prepared for the unexpected:
Ocean storms can sweep through the Kenai Fjords any time of year. Good rain gear and extra food supplies are a must since weather may delay a charter pick-up for days. A properly prepared party can usually wait out bad weather and may be a few days overdue with no cause for alarm. Travel with a marine radio to stay informed of upcoming conditions. Don’t make your schedule too tight. Allow extra time for delays and always have a backup plan. When in doubt, stay on the beach - better to get home late than to risk paddling through potentially deadly seas.
- Let someone know your plans:
Always let a responsible person know where you are going and when you expect to return. Let them know how long overdue you can be before they should start to worry.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Despite the rugged appearance, the rocky shores and cliffs of Kenai Fjords are vulnerable to human impact. Fragile alpine vegetation is easily damaged and can take years to recover.
- Stick to the beaches when camping on the coast.
- Everywhere else in the backcountry, camp on bare rock or snow.
- Camp in areas where sites have already been established and concentrate use in the middle of the site.
Dispose of Waste Properly
Nobody wants to find your old toilet paper sticking out from under a rock. Proper waste disposal not only keeps the backcountry looking pristine, it is extremely important for health and safety of campers and wildlife.
- Pack out all trash:
This includes all food trash and packaging materials – even things that are biodegradable! Many modern packaging materials don’t burn, so be sure to clean up any campfire litter.
- Dispose of human waste properly:
Human waste disposal is no longer permitted in the inter-tidal zone due to concerns about water quality. Pack it out or bury it in the uplands in a six-inch deep “cat hole” at least 200 feet from any water source. Toilet paper should always be packed out or carefully and completely burned.
Leave What You Find
Take only memories (and photos!). One of the unique features of the Kenai Fjords coastline is the “ghost forests” – dead standing trees whose roots were inundated with salt water during the ’64 earthquake. Do not cut them up for firewood. Unlike parks in the lower 48, however, recreational rock collecting (by hand without tools) is permitted in Kenai Fjords and most of the national parks of Alaska.