Southeast Kenai Locations:

Primrose Creek and Snow River Area

Lily Pad Lake draws moose and waterfowl. ©Helen O'Harra

Notable Species

  • Black bear
  • Brown bear
  • Moose
  • Mountain goat
  • Red-necked grebe
  • Bald eagle
  • Spotted sandpiper
  • Mew gull
  • Black-billed magpie

Primrose Creek flows into the head of Kenai Lake along a gravel shore, drawing shorebirds and gulls. Watch for the most activity in late summer after salmon begin reaching the area on their journey to spawning grounds. Mountain slopes rimming the Snow River valley host goats and black bears that can be spied with binoculars and spotting scopes. Forest birds dart through the trees along the campground road. The eight-mile Primrose Trail traverses a mature Sitka spruce forest to alpine areas. Traveling south along the Seward Highway gives access to the Snow River, a little visited drainage with migrating salmon and lots of bird life.


Primrose Creek and Snow River feature Sitka and Lutz spruce with riparian edges of alders and willows. Kenai Lake is a cold glacial system. Wetland marshes and subalpine brush and meadows can be found off trails.

Historic Connection

The Iditarod National Historic Trail stretches 938 miles from Seward to Nome. Constructed by the Alaska Road Commission in 1910-11, by the late 1920s most of the trail had fallen into disuse because of the introduction of air travel and the decline in gold mining. Largely a winter trail, the Iditarod ran up the Snow Valley and traversed the shore of Kenai Lake.

Viewing Tip

Lily Pad Lake Viewpoint, located on the east side of the Seward Highway at milepost 14.7, offers a boardwalk overlooking a lush marsh and forest edge habitat. Watch for moose early and late in the day, and nesting waterfowl such as grebes during summer.

Helpful Hints

Dress for wind along Kenai Lake and Snow River; this can be a wind tunnel between the Gulf of Alaska and Cook Inlet. Don’t venture onto Kenai Lake unless you’re prepared for icy water, wind and waves.

Getting There

Seward Highway milepost 17. Turn northwest and drive 1.5 miles to the Primrose Campground. There are signed trailheads in the campground.