Ninilchik State Recreation Area
Guide

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Introduction

Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula is a glaciated mountainous region surrounded by the waters of the Prince William Sound, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Cook Inlet. Ninilchik, Alaska, located on the western coast of the Kenai Peninsula, is a small Alaska Native village that rests along the Cook Inlet. In Russian, the word Ninilchik means a place where a lodge is built. The village, once a Russian-fur trading village, still has strong ties with its Russian heritage.

The scenic village of Ninilchik is often a stopping point for visitors driving the Sterling Highway to and from Homer, Alaska. On a clear day, four active volcanoes tower across the Cook Inlet, creating a picturesque backdrop over the Inlet’s famous fishing waters. For visitors who want to stay near Ninilchik, state-sanctioned outdoor areas like Ninilchik State Recreation Area, provide a simple and beautiful place to stay and take part in Alaska’s desirable outdoor activities.

The Ninilchik State Recreation Area has three campgrounds and a day use area as well as a dump station for registered campers. The park opens as soon as the snowmelt allows. Campers visiting before the official season begins can still stay in the campsites, but please be aware that the drinking water is winterized and not available for use until the park opens for the season. Off-season campers don’t have to pay for camping until the drinking water is available.

RV Rentals in Ninilchik State Recreation Area

Transportation in Ninilchik State Recreation Area

Driving

Ninilchik State Recreation Area is located along Alaska’s Sterling Highway in the Kenai Peninsula, less than five minutes away from the village of Ninilchik. The area is located 36 miles north of Homer and 39 miles south of Soldotna, Alaska.

The recreation area charges a daily-use fee that is an additional cost added to the overnight camping fees. Please use the self-pay station to pay for your stay.

During periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt, some areas may be impacted by flooding and must close temporarily. Closures help to keep campers and guests safe from high waters. For information on closures, contact the park.

Please adhere to the maximum allowed RV size of 35 feet. The turn around areas may be difficult to maneuver with larger RVs and trailers.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Ninilchik State Recreation Area

Campsites in Ninilchik State Recreation Area

Reservations camping

First-come first-served

Ninilchik River Campground

The Ninilchik River Campground is the area’s largest campground, offering guests the solitude of camping among birch and spruce trees as well as frequent moose and other animal sightings. The campground has 48 gravel spaces. All of the sites are primitive with no hookups, and each space has a fire ring. The campground has toilets, drinking water, a dumpster, picnic tables with shelters, and hiking trails nearby. Campers must pay parking and camping fees at the self-pay station within fifteen minutes of choosing a campsite. Please silence generators by 11:00 pm. Quiet hours are from 11:00 through 6:00 am.

Ninilchik View Campground

The Ninilchik View Campground sits on a bluff above Ninilchik Beach giving campground guests a view of Cook Inlet, Mt. Iliamna and Mt. Redoubt. A stairway leads from the campground down to the beach, so campground guests don’t have to walk far to reach the water. The campground has 14 gravel spaces that accommodate RVs and trailers up to 35 feet in length, and each space has a fire ring. There are no hookups, but there is water available near the center of the campground as well as a restroom, and a pay-per-use dump station located near the campground entrance. Campers must pay parking and camping fees at the self-pay station within fifteen minutes of choosing a campsite. Please silence generators by 11:00 pm. Quiet hours are from 11:00 through 6:00 am.

Ninilchik Overlook Campground

The Ninilchik Overlook Campground is located near the Ninilchik River and gives campers easy accessibility to some of the area’s best fishing. The campground has nine gravel spaces that accommodate RVs and trailers up to 35 feet in length. The sites are primitive with no hookups, but each space has a fire ring and picnic table so campers can enjoy their time outside. The campground has a drinking water faucet, restrooms, picnic tables, and a picnic shelter. Campers must pay parking and camping fees at the self-pay station within fifteen minutes of choosing a campsite. Please silence generators by 11:00 pm. Quiet hours are from 11:00 through 6:00 am.

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Ninilchik State Recreation Area

In-Season

Boating

Ninilchik is an area where anglers come to set up for fishing on the Cook Inlet or the Ninilchik River. The town has many different kinds of fishing charters, geared to suit the interest of any angler, regardless of skill. The Inlet is known for its excellent halibut and salmon fishing, and people come from all over the peninsula to fish in the deep waters. The Ninilchik River is also a favorite fishing destination, and the salmon run is generally fruitful for anglers. Before heading to the water, ensure you have the proper license, tags, and that you are aware of the fishing restrictions. Contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for fishing specifics.

Fishing

Ninilchik is an area where anglers come to set up for fishing on the Cook Inlet or the Ninilchik River. The town has many different kinds of fishing charters, geared to suit the interest of any angler, regardless of skill. The Inlet is known for its excellent halibut and salmon fishing, and people come from all over the peninsula to fish in the deep waters. The Ninilchik River is also a favorite fishing destination, and the salmon run is generally fruitful for anglers. Before heading to the water, ensure you have the proper license, tags, and that you are aware of the fishing restrictions. Contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for fishing specifics.

Day Use Area

The Ninilchik State Recreation Area has one designated day use area, Ninilchik Beach. The beach has a parking lot, a picnic area, toilets, and a boat launch, and it is a popular location for digging razor clams. There is access to the clam beds during certain tides, and clam diggers should be aware of the tide tables and use the proper safety measures when clamming. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game governs the clamming in the area and provides up to date information on clamming conditions. Clamming is regulated like fishing, and valid permits are required to search for clams.

Off-Season

Ninilchik Village

Visitors to the area should add Ninilchik Village to their lists of must-see activities when staying at Ninilchik State Recreation Area. Families and people of all ages and interests will find the village, once a Russian fur-trading village, quaint and photograph worthy. Stop by the local restaurants for dinner or visit the art museum or the gift shops to pick up handmade Alaskan crafts. While walking around, don’t forget to visit the area’s most famous Russian Orthodox church, the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord Chapel. The building, constructed in 1901, is a stop listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hunting

Skilled hunters interested in moose or bear hunting should consider staging at Ninilchik State Recreation Area, and then head to state, native, or federal refuge lands for the hunt. Moose hunting begins in early August and runs through the end of September, with educational hunting often running through the fall into the winter. Brown and black bear are abundant in the region, and the seasons and limits for bear are liberal. Ptarmigan hunters will find success through the winter, and the spruce grouse season runs from fall through early winter. The area is also known for excellent hare hunting, and hare hunting licenses are generally easy to acquire. For information on other types of hunting licenses, limits, and regulations, contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Bald Eagle Viewing

The Ninilchik Overlook is a prime location for wildlife because the Ninilchik River is a sustainable habitat for many animals, especially bald eagles. The overlook is an elevated viewing area where birdwatchers might catch a glimpse of an eagle flying overhead. For an increased chance at seeing a bald eagle, head to the Deep Creek Recreation Area, less than three miles south, and witness eagles of all sizes carrying salmon, walking along the rocky beach, or even resting in the tall grasses of the park.

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