Things to Do in the Cooper Landing Area
1. Fishing the Kenai River
Discover why this river offers the ultimate fishing adventure for anglers the world over. Fish from shore or take a fishing charter, or stay at a fishing lodge and cast for all five species of salmon, along with trout. Whether you’re a pro or novice, you’ll delight in the river’s bounty, with experts to guide you all the way.
2. Raft the Kenai River
The Kenai is also famous for awesome rafting in its glacially fed waters. The fairly mild rapids make it an exciting outing that’s also great for families. Choose from a half-day or full day of fun, as you travel deep into the Alaskan wilderness, keeping an eye out for wildlife along the river banks and eagles perched in the trees.
3. Go Hiking
You can find some of the best hiking in Southcentral Alaska right here in Cooper Landing. The area offers a variety of trails for hikers of all ages and abilities: historic trails used by gold prospectors, paths that lead through lush forests filled with wildlife, and walkways that transport you to open meadows with shimmering lakes.
4. Discover Historic Sites
Learn about some of the state’s unique history and culture at the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area. Explore tales of the Gold Rush and the characters who made this area their home, all among a stunning setting of mountains, lakes, rivers, glaciers, and fjords. See the historic post office (the oldest functional building in Cooper Landing) and Estes Grocery, an old roadhouse with historic photos.
5. Drive Skilak Lake Road
If wildlife and iconic views are on your Alaskan agenda, driving the Skilak Lake Road should be a must-do. This 18-mile-long loop gravel road not only leads you through the Kenai Peninsula’s best area for wildlife viewing, but also to great views of lakes and glaciers.
6. Watch the Salmon
The annual upstream salmon migration—when waters teem with fish—is not only a classic Alaskan event, but it also makes for exciting viewing. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to watch salmon in late summer, when the rivers teem with fish. From viewing platforms to riverside trails, pick a spot to check out salmon make their journey.
7. See Wildlife at Tern Lake
Bask in the beauty of Alaskan flora and fauna at Tern Lake. Bird watchers will thrill to the sight of bald eagles, loons, and arctic terns; and everyone will be excited by the chance to see beavers, otters and salmon, along with Dall sheep, moose, and mountain goats in the surrounding mountains. Stop off at the Tern Lake day use area, where you’ll find picnic tables and a fish-viewing platform.
Cooper Landing Day Tours & Attractions View All
Alaska River Adventures Kenai River rafting trips are some of its most popular and accessible excursions – and are a great value too. Full day trips showcase 19 miles of Alaska wild from Kenai Lake to Skilak Lake, giving plenty of time for spotting wildlife, historic spots and gorgeous views from all angles. When you have just a few hours, a scenic and serene 14-mile float of the Upper Kenai River provides a variety of sights, from historic ...more
Where will you find Alaska’s best salmon fishing? The Kenai Peninsula is hard to beat. Alaska Wildland Adventures (AWA) has specialized in fishing the Upper Kenai River between Kenai and Skilak Lakes since 1977. Their professional guides are experts in fly-fishing, drift fishing, and back trolling, so you can fish from the boat, the bank, or both. Expect an exciting day of fishing for salmon (red, silver, or king depending on the season), as ...more
Alaska Wildland Adventures pioneered floating the mellow, turquoise Kenai River and has operated continuously since 1977. Join them for a serene 2‑hour float, or take on a 7‑hour adventure, complete with fun Class II+ rapids and a cruise through a glacial lake. AWA’s Kenai River Scenic Float Trip offers a nice introduction to the river, taking you along a stretch of the scenic Upper Kenai closed to motorized boats. Watch for wildlife as your ...more
Fishing the Kenai Peninsula is pretty much the ultimate for fishermen the world over, and with Alaska River Adventures, even beginners do well. This area is famous for salmon (Kings, reds and silvers), rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden, which Alaska River Adventures can help you find in the amazing green of the Kenai River and other points along the Peninsula. Alaska River Adventure guides have been fishing these waters for years. They’re patient ...more
Cooper Landing Area Hiking Trails View All
Beginning 103 miles south of Anchorage on the Seward Highway, the 3.5‑mile-long Ptarmigan Lake Trail makes for a fine family outing. The lake itself is a long and narrow body of water squeezed between ridges and mountains that tower as high as 6,000 feet. It even offers a small beach upon which to relax and enjoy the view while cooling your feet.
This 38 mile long USFS trail climbs Resurrection Pass (elev. 2,600) and descends to the north to another trailheadtrailhead near Hope on Turnagain Arm. There are 8 public use cabins along the trail, making this an advanced but comfortable day cabin-to-cabin hike. There are also 19 campsites available along the trail.
Popular with hikers and backpackers, this easy-to-follow trail connects the state’s most intense sockeye salmon sports fishery with stunning mountain backcountry. It offers many of the Kenai Peninsula’s highlights in one trip. The 21-mile route accesses Russian River Falls, Lower and Upper Russian Lakes, Cooper Lake, 3 federally managed recreational cabins, and numerous campsites
This meandering, single-track path leads to some of the Kenai Mountain’s most remote and fragile high country. On a route once trekked by gold rush prospectors, this trail ascends from spruce forest through the jungled zone of alders into a realm of sweeping tundra, with incredible views and productive berry picking. Plus, the top of the nine-mile journey ends in Resurrection Pass, about midway through the 39-mile Resurrection Pass Trail.
This wildlife sweet spot is worth a visit. The Russian Lakes Trail begins off the access road to the Russian River Campground in Cooper Landing, at milepost 52 of the Sterling Highway. Get off-the-beaten path, hike two miles to the falls and enjoy the immediate reward of spectacular salmon viewing.
This trail is a good day hike for the whole family. It alternates between open meadows and forests and offers the option of tent camping or staying in Crescent Lake Cabin. There are options for longer hikes and there is a lot of wildlife to be seen such as moose, goats and bears.
If you have some outdoor experience and an adventurous spirit, consider this 11-mile traverse up the Colorado Creek valley and down the Summit Creek. Beginning 2 hours south of Anchorage, this traverse doesn’t involve any rock scrambling, river crossings, or arduous bushwhacking. But if you feel comfortable hiking in wide and trackless country, you may reap the reward of having an entire valley to yourself.
No other mining trail on the Kenai Peninsula climbs as high or takes in more extensive views as the 6‑mile-long Crown Mine Trail. Beginning some 2 hours south of Anchorage on the appropriately named Mine Road just south of Trail Lake, this trail climbs to 3,900 feet above sea level to a unique spot — a glacial cirque littered with mining paraphernalia.
The 23-mile Johnson Pass Trail offers hikers, backpackers and bikers a well-marked route through a lush pass in the Kenai Mountains — featuring gradual climbs, two lakes with fish, spectacular peaks and some way cool gorges.
More a gated road than a trail, this hike largely remains a local secret among the residents of Cooper Landing, the fishing mecca located some 105 miles south of Anchorage on Sterling Highway. Many in this town consider it their personal getaway, which makes it quite a popular secret. A foreman for Chugach Electric (the company that manages the dam on Cooper Lake) said he often experienced congestion while driving to the dam, due to the heavy ...more
Well-maintained and suitable for summer hiking and biking, the 10-mile Devil’s Pass Trail features a steep route up a spectacular V‑shaped valley that intersects with the Resurrection Pass Trail and a rental cabin in the alpine realm. The country is rugged, with great access to cross-country tundra exploration and berry picking.
The wildflowers are abundant and verdant undergrowth can be check high sometimes. Most of the trail lies below treeline, so there are established camp clearings along the way that are nestled into the trees. One of the best campsites is 10 miles in from the northern trailhead, set among trees on a spruce-covered knoll looking over the trail and Bench Lake.