This little town 10 miles northeast of Soldotna shares its name with the highway that cuts through the Kenai Peninsula. Ironically, one of the best reasons to pull over here is to steer a different kind of vehicle: a canoe. The Swan Lake Canoe Route starts 12 miles down Swan Lake Rd and offers a 17-mile float into town on the Moose River and over 60 miles of lakes and short portages, great for everything from day trips to week-long wilderness adventures. The Swanson River Canoe Route also begins here and strings together clear lakes with less traveled portage trails and the 46-mile Swanson River, which can be done in its entirety or shortened to a 26-mile float to Nikiski, camping a night or two in between. Either of these canoe trails offers a quintessential north woods experience, complete with curious moose, the lonesome call of loons, and an occasional soaring bald eagle.
Of course, there is plenty of fishing to be done here, too: The Kenai and Moose Rivers intersect near the Sterling Highway and the best spots to camp and fish include Morgan’s Landing and Scout Lake. Fish area lakes for rainbow trout and northern pike or hit the rivers in pursuit of salmon and rainbows. If you’re into birds, you might see owls, boreal chickadees and woodpeckers.
This highway town has a number of small lodges, B&Bs and campgrounds, and it’s a good spot to grab last minute items, though you’ll find many more options in nearby Soldotna.
Highlights of visiting here: