Northeast Kenai Locations:

Palmer Creek Road

Hermit thrush forage for insects on the forest floor. ©Bob Armstrong

Notable Species

  • Black bear
  • Caribou
  • Wolf
  • Willow ptarmigan
  • Rock ptarmigan
  • Hermit thrush
  • American pipit
  • Wilson’s warbler
  • Golden-crowned sparrow

Palmer Creek Road climbs from a Lutz and white spruce forest only a few miles from Turnagain Arm into alpine tundra and brush. Old logging activities on the slope overlooking lower Resurrection Creek have left open areas with pullouts where you can scan for forest birds such as hermit thrushes.

The road begins emerging from the forest about 1.5 miles up and transitions to open tundra after another 1.5 miles. Sparrows, thrushes and warblers work the alders along the road. From the pullouts, view tundra meadows that climb 2,000 feet to the ridge. Watch for American pipits and rock ptarmigan in the grass. Golden-crowned sparrows and Wilson’s warblers flit amid the alders in the creek bottoms. Black bears and wolves roam the area, but are rarely seen.

The road narrows after reaching the Coeur d’Alene campground about six miles in, making it a good route for walking and biking while listening for birds.


The road climbs through a succession of habitats, from mature spruce forest with a dim understory to willow and mountain hemlock, to thick stands of alder and then open alpine meadows. Forest alternates with alpine meadow, depending on exposure and proximity to creeks. Beavers have created ponds in the upper valley.

Historic Connection

The Swetmann and Hirshey mines date from early 20th century, when gold mining boomed in Resurrection Valley. Ruins can still be found at the end of the road.

Viewing Tip

Energetic hikers can view all three of Alaska’s ptarmigan species — willow, rock, and white-tailed — as they explore the tundra on the higher slopes.


Helpful Hints

Palmer Creek Road is not recommended for large RVs or trailers. Don’t attempt to drive beyond the campground at milepost 6 without a high clearance vehicle and possibly four-wheel-drive. Come prepared for bugs. Coeur d'Alene Campground at milepost 6 of Palmer Creek Road has six walk-in campsites and restrooms, but no water.

This road is not maintained in winter; snow may be present on the road from mid-September to mid-May.

Getting There

From milepost 16.2 of the Hope Highway, head south on Resurrection Creek Road and turn left on Palmer Creek Road. Follow this road about six miles to the campground. A much narrower and more rugged jeep trail continues another five miles to the ruins at the Swetmann Mining Camp.