Homer, Alaska

Where the land ends
and the sea begins
By Jon Fraiman

Homer is the hub of the lower Kenai Peninsula of Alaska, an area incomparably rich in natural wonders and recreational possibilities.

The Kenai Peninsula is an Alaska in miniature, a combination of mountain and meadow, coastline and island. The backbone of the peninsula is the Kenai Mountain Range, which separates the rolling hills and salmon streams from the Gulf of Alaska and cradles the 1,000 square mile Harding Icefield, a trackless inland ocean of 3 million-year-old ice.

Around Homer, rolling hills and ridges overlook Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet. Bears, wolves and moose roam the uplands; dozens of species of birds gather each spring to feed on the mudflats at the head of the bay.

Until the early 1950s, Homer was accessible only by boat, airplane or driving the stony beach from Kenai. Paved road now strings together the coastal towns of Ninilchik, Anchor Point and Homer, affording impressive views of volcanic Mount Iliamna, rising more than 10,000 feet above the sea, and Mount Redoubt, which became active again in 1989 after a couple decades of slumber.

Across Kachemak Bay, fabulously rich in marine life, mountains, glaciers and steep-walled fjords dramatically drop into the ocean. When wrapped in mist, the thick stands of spruce and hemlock lend an ethereal air to the secluded coves and bays. Seldovia, Nanwalek and Port Graham are ensconced in such sheltered recesses at the tip of the peninsula.

The Southern Peninsula offers visitors an unparalleled blend of the wild and the picturesque, of vigorous life amid immemorial beauty, where glimpses of an eagle soaring, a salmon charging the rapids, or a sunset burnishing the mountain crests leave impressions that can never fade.

Homer\'s population has grown to nearly 5,000 people, and the city serves as a trading and service center for nearly 10,000. It has a modern hospital, newspapers, public and commercial radio stations, a movie theater, thriving commercial and sport fishing fleets, and a high school that was honored in 1989 as one of the best in the nation.

The Kachemak Bay area is the arts capital of South-central Alaska. An impressive group of professional and amateur artists provide residents with art shows, dance, music and drama throughout the year. The Homer Council on the Arts also regularly brings nationally- and internationally known performers to Homer. The area\'s major industry is commercial fishing, which pumps nearly $30 million a year into the local economy. But tourism is rapidly becoming an important supplement. The two industries thrive side by side in the Homer Small Boat Harbor.

Summer or winter, there is no lack of interesting activities, challenging sports and breathtaking scenery to enjoy. Recreational and cultural opportunities can be as varied as fishing for halibut off Yukon Island in July to enjoying modern dance during the Spring Arts Festival, held every April, to skiing the cross-country trails during January. We know you will enjoy your stay on the lower Kenai Peninsula and hope that this guide will add to your pleasure while you stay in our community.

Kachemak Bay
Some say it means "Smoky Bay," some claim it means "Highcliff Bay." The Aleuts called it "Smoking Bay" because of the smoldering deposits of coal woven throughout the tall bluffs. The Russians called the Kenai Peninsula "Summerland" because of its temperate climate and mild winters. Homer residents have called the area the "Shangri-La of Alaska" since the early 1930s because of its dramatic setting and spectacular scenery.

The Spit
An Inseparable Facet of Life in Homer

The Homer Spit is a gift of geological forces - a natural jetty, of sorts, sticking several miles out into Kachemak Bay. Homer is here because the Spit is here. It is a source of artistic energy, a place to relax and get in touch with the rhythm of wind and wave and a vibrant economic center.

By almost any measure, the city\'s economic future is tied to the Spit. Homer\'s commercial and sport-fishing fleets ply Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet for the ocean\'s bounty. A bustling port and a thriving tourist industry in the summer add to its active atmosphere.

The Homer Small Boat Harbor, operated by the city, offers approximately 800 individual stalls and 4,000 linear feet of transient moorage tie-up space. The inner-harbor depth is dredged to -10 feet at the west