Kenai National Wildlife Visitor Center (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai National Wildlife Visitor Center (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

Refuge fills December with fun, despite lack of snow

Despite the winter’s darkness and this year’s lack of snow, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge has a host of events scheduled for December to entertain through the winter days and holiday breaks.

On Dec. 8, Ranger Leah Eskelin will hold a demonstration using the hands-on augmented reality sandbox which ties together sand, an Xbox and shadows to explore topography and see where rain water drains and pools.

The event runs from 2 to 3 p.m., but guests are welcome to come anytime during the hour.

“People can drop in during that time and get to play with the sand,” said Ranger Michelle Ostrowski. “It’s addictive; it’s fun.”

Ostrowski will also lead a Solstice Walk on Dec. 21 from 4 to 5 p.m. to celebrate the days getting longer and a full moon. Attendees are asked to preregister by calling 907-260-2820.

“The full moon is on Dec. 22 at 8:50 a.m., so we figured we’d do a walk in the evening,” Ostrowski said. “The sun sets at 3:43 p.m. and the moon rises at 3:53 p.m. We’ll walk down to the lake and celebrate solstice, the shortest day of the year.”

Ostrowski said she has her fingers crossed for snow, since it is a snowshoing event. She will have ice cleats available in event that the trails are still iced over.

Even without snow, though, Ostrowski said the refuge is a great place to spend a winter afternoon. People have been ice skating and coming to watch movies on the weekend.

“I’m still starting the fire everyday at noon, sometimes people come to sit by the fire,” Ostrowski said. “Lately, I’ve been sitting by the fire by myself so people are welcome to come bring a cup of cocoa, read and hang out by the fireplace.”

The Refuge is also continuing their “Into Alaska” crafts, hosting an arts night for kids each Monday night until Dec. 22 based on Animal Planet’s “Into Alaska” television show. Also, each Saturday, the refuge shows a selection of films from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information on any of the events or on the Kenai Wildlife Refuge, call 907-260-2820.

Kat Sorensen can be reached at

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