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MP 50.1 Sterling Highway
Cooper Landing, AK 99572
Looking for an intimate and accessible getaway with an authentic Alaskan feel? Alaska Wildland Adventures' Kenai Riverside Lodge easily fits the bill, with 16 cabins surround a main log lodge on the banks of the Kenai River. Surrounded by 3,000-foot snow-capped mountains, this easy-access riverside lodge has a remote feel, but is still right on the road system.
The company that runs the lodge—Alaska Wildland Adventures—was started by Kirk Hoessle, a Missourian who came here for a summer job years ago and never really left. He started AWA as a tent safari and rafting tour operator, but then expanded his company beyond the tents— the Kenai Riverside Lodge was the second lodge to open—but he wanted to keep them small, for an intimate vibe. He's long been an advocate for ecotourism in Alaska, and prides himself on hiring guides with the same expertise and passion about the great outdoors.
Meals here are served family-style, so you get to know the guides, staff, and your fellow guests on a different level than you would at a large resort. The site has been in use for over 25 years, with native species and natural landscaping. It's lush, gorgeous, and nicely wild—it doesn't look manicured. You also have easy access to the town of Cooper Landing, so you can also get a taste of local life, too.
The lodge features newly remodeled cabins, each with two double beds and private bathrooms. You won't find cable TV or Internet here, but you will find a sprawling riverside deck with awe-inspiring views of the Kenai River and all it has to offer. Spend your day hiking, fishing, or strolling down a self-guided trail. At night, take in a naturalist program, enjoy a wood-fired sauna and dip (if you dare) in the river or just relax on the riverside deck by the fire pit. You can spend hours just watching the gorgeous turquoise waters go by, listening to the sounds of gulls and eagles, or watching the fish jump.
If you choose to fish during your stay, with Alaska Wildland Adventures' Kenai Riverside Fishing program, book a day trip and you’ll be the first ones out on the water every day, and you’ll have wider access than almost any other operator. While many fishing lodges in the area only fish one end of the Kenai River, the Kenai Riverside Lodge has access to the upper, middle and lower stretches of the river, so that you can target any fish from your wish list, or just keep your options wide open. On the Upper end of the river, you’ll find reds (sockeye salmon), silvers (coho salmon), rainbow trout or Dolly Varden, while the lower end has more silvers and king (chinook) salmon. From the lodge, you can also set up trips to Resurrection Bay for even more silvers, or you can branch out into trophy-size halibut, lingcod and rockfish.
You won’t be crammed into a big boat, either. The lodge has a fleet of eight boats, each of which can carry no more than four guests, plus the guide, who can offer everything from friendly basics to advanced expertise. Between catches, you can be on the lookout for moose, eagles, bears, beavers and otters. Whatever you catch can be prepped, vacuum-packed and even frozen before you ship it back home.
Most Kenai Riverside Lodge guests are picked up in Anchorage, so you're taken care of from beginning to end—all of the guides are specialists in their field. When you arrive, you can tour the lodge before enjoying a welcome dinner, and your coordinator will stop by to let you know the details of available lodge activities. Lots of people add a day float trip to your stay – either the Kenai River Scenic Float Trip, or the Kenai River Canyon Full Day Raft Trip.
In addition to the Kenai Riverside Lodge, Alaska Wildland Adventures owns and operates two other wilderness lodges on the Kenai Peninsula. Check out Kenai Backcountry lodge, a remote boat-in only lodge located on the glacier-carved Skilak Lake; and Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, an exclusive seacoast paradise. If one lodge is not enough, take part in one of Alaska Wildland Adventure's Guided Journeys, or choose a two or three lodge combination package and experience all AWA has to offer.
Transfers: Round trip transportation available to and from Anchorage (call for details), and for those combining a stay at the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, return to Anchorage via the Alaska Railroad is available.