Survival, Safety, and Disaster Preparedness

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge has developed campgrounds located along the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area and Swanson River Road. Campgrounds are located on various lakes near hiking and fishing areas. Consult the campground chart for size, facilities, and fees. Camping may not exceed fourteen days in a thirty-day period anywhere on the refuge. Campers may not spend more than two consecutive days at the Kenai-Russian River access area, or more than seven consecutive days at Hidden Lake Campground. Backcountry camping is also permitted in the Refuge, at least 1/4 mile away from the Sterling Highway, Ski Hill Road, or Skilak Lake Road.

Selecting a Campsite

When choosing a place to set up camp, there are several different things to take into consideration. While camping on the refuge, use sites that have previously been used, rather than creating new ones. Ideally, these sites should be 200 feet from water sources, out of sight from other trail users, and on durable terrain with little vegetation. When leaving a site, be certain to pack out all trash and clean up as much as possible in order to make it appealing to the next group that comes along. This will help to reduce the number of areas that are impacted.


While the banks of a river or lake make an attractive campsite, using them tends to concentrate use in a few small areas which can overburden nearby water bodies. Too many foreign substances can alter pH levels and seriously disturb the aquatic ecosystem. Widely scatter washing and leftover cooking water at least 200 feet away from water sources and your campsite. If you use soap, be sure it is biodegradable.

Human Waste

While in the backcountry, it is important that human waste is properly disposed of for both sanitary and aesthetic reasons. This can be accomplished by burying waste in a hole several inches deep at least 200 feet from water and well off hiking trails. Toilet paper should be packed in a sealable plastic bag. Be sure to replace dirt and leaf cover over the hole.


Please be certain to pack out all of your trash as well as anyone else's trash you might find while in the wilderness. You can significantly cut down on the amount of garbage you produce by removing excess packaging and bringing food in plastic bags. Also be sure to remove any half-burned items from your fire ring.


Many people feel that their camping experience would be incomplete without a campfire. However, due to the adverse impacts of campfires, lightweight campstoves are suggested as an alternative. Fire scars can take years to disappear. If no dead and down wood is available, people often cut living trees, unnecessarily harming or even killing them. Using a stove prevents these impacts.

If you are camping in an established site and do build a fire, use an existing fire ring if available.

Keep fires small, and use only dead and down wood. Small pieces of wood will burn more completely. If conditions are dry or there is a shortage of wood, consider spending the evening without a fire. Also be aware of campground regulations and emergency closures concerning fires. If you are camping in an area that has not been previously used, use camp stoves to minimize your camping impacts.

Minimum Impact

An increasing number of people venture into the wilderness each year, we must each take steps to protect it. The objectives of minimum impact hiking and camping techniques are to leave an area in the same or even better condition than we found it.

Emergency Shelter

Family Radios

Swiss Army Knife

Hiker with dog on Fuller Lake.  USFWS.  The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge trail system will satisfy hikers of all ages and abilities. Trails vary widely in length and difficulty and take hikers along creeks and rivers, through forests, and to mountain peaks high above the treeline. The majority of the trails are located in the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area and are road accessible. Most of the trails are day hikes, but camping is permitted along all trails. Visitors hoping to see wildlife have the best chance of doing so while hiking, and many trails lead to lakes suitable for fishing. For more specific information, Kenai Pathways: A Guide to the Outstanding Wildland Trails of the Kenai Peninsula, is available at both the Visitor Center and the Visitor Contact Station.

Day Hiking - What to Bring

  • Water and high-calorie food
  • Clothing: sturdy shoes, rain gear, and different layers which you can add or take off as needed. Wool and polar fleece are good choices because they keep you warm when wet.
  • Map and compass
  • First aid kit
  • Waterproof matches
  • Whistle Pocketknife
  • Bug repellent
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen
  • Camera, binoculars, and field guides

Backcountry Emergencies

Here are some tips to ensure a safe and comfortable hike while out on the trail. Unpredictable weather, bears, injuries, and getting lost can turn a leisurely day on the trail into a potential disaster. To prevent problems, be ready for anything. Bring extra food and water, appropriate clothing, first aid kit, and safety equipment. Use common sense. A cool head in a stressful situation can usually prevent things from turning from bad to worse. Before you set off on your adventure, learn about your proposed route (trail conditions, terrain, etc...) and leave a trip plan with a family member or trusted friend.


Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can create it, lowering the body's core temperature. Air temperatures between 30 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit and wet clothing both contribute to this condition. Symptoms include shivering, slurred speech, stumbling, drowsiness, exhaustion, and impaired judgement.

To treat hypothermia, change into warm, dry clothes and find an area sheltered from rain and wind. Drink plenty of warm liquids (not alcohol). In advanced stages, stay awake, remove all clothing, and get into a dry sleeping bag with another unclothed person to share body heat.

Prevention is the best way to deal with hypothermia. Bring warm layers of clothing, including rain gear. Be sure to have plenty of water and high calorie foods to eat throughout the day. Pack clothing and sleeping bags in plastic bags to prevent them from getting wet. Finally be familiar with the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and how properly to treat them.


Giardia is a microscopic organism found in lakes and streams which causes giardiasis, an intestinal disease characterized by abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue. There are several different ways to treat drinking water to remove the organism, which include using iodine-based water tablets, boiling water for five minutes, or using a properly rated water filter.

* Information courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service


Work Boots

Survival Kits

Pocket Tools