Photo Credit: Debbie Wik

Close to Anchorage and endowed with abundant recreational opportunities, central Kenai is Alaska's playground.

Two highways, numerous trails, and several major rivers slice through the spine of the Kenai Mountains. World-class fishing, hiking, river rafting, and canoeing--plus alpine lakes and gold history--make for an ideal day trip or week-long vacation.

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Points of Interest

Locat­ed on the shores of Upper Trail Lake, the town is sur­round­ed by the Chugach Nation­al For­est and is also home to the start of the Idi­tar­od trail, which was blazed through here in 1910. Since it seems to be just a dot on the road, though, it would be easy to miss — but it makes a great home base for vis­it­ing Seward or the Russ­ian Riv­er fish­ing area.

Sand­wiched between the Kenai moun­tains and the waters of Kenai Fjords Nation­al Park, Seward is one of Alaska’s old­est and most scenic com­mu­ni­ties. A spec­tac­u­lar 2.5‑hour dri­ve south from Anchor­age brings you to this sea­side vil­lage, which offers a bustling har­bor, quaint shops and gal­leries, and many dif­fer­ent ways to tour Kenai Fjords Nation­al Park. The entire Kenai Penin­su­la is rife with scenery and activ­i­ties, but Seward packs a lot into…  ...more

Some would say Coop­er Land­ing is the heart of the Kenai Penin­su­la, both lit­er­al­ly and fig­u­ra­tive­ly: Locat­ed in the mid­dle of the penin­su­la, the small town also sits at the inter­sec­tion of the Kenai and Russ­ian Rivers, which makes it an espe­cial­ly fer­tile fish­ing spot. World class Rain­bow fish­ing is read­i­ly avail­able and the salmon that make it all the way to Kenai Lake are still full of fight.Also, espe­cial­ly giv­en its small size, it packs in…  ...more

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…  ...more

As the sis­ter city of Kenai, the town of Sol­dot­na is in many ways the heart of the Kenai Penin­su­la. As proof of its fish­ing mec­ca sta­tus, the 97-lb world record salmon was caught here; you’ll find more ele­vat­ed fish­ing plat­forms here than any­where else, which helps pro­tect the waters for fish and anglers to come. One hun­dred forty miles from Anchor­age, Sol­dot­na offers pret­ty much any activ­i­ty that fits with the Kenai’s play­ground” vibe,…  ...more

The city of Kenai has plen­ty of nat­ur­al won­ders going for it: Over­look­ing the mouth of the Kenai Riv­er, it has great views of Cook Inlet as well as miles of sandy beach­es, two moun­tain ranges and four active vol­ca­noes. Soldotna’s twin city has lots of cul­tur­al assets, too. Orig­i­nal­ly set­tled in the eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry by Russ­ian fur traders, the Peninsula’s old­est city has plen­ty of his­toric charm, such as tak­ing a self-guid­ed walk­ing tour…  ...more

This lit­tle town 16 miles north of Kenai makes a nice spot for fam­i­lies to stop for a meal, stock up on sup­plies at M&M Mar­ket, and get advice on local fish­ing hotspots and camp­ing loca­tions. At Cap­tain Cook State Recre­ation Area, 13 miles fur­ther north, you can get a great camp­ing site — with great views of the Cook Inlet, Mt. Spurr, Mt. Redoubt, & Mt. Iliamna. Off the coast in the Cook Inlet, you’ll also see oil platforms,…  ...more

The town of Kasilof (pro­nounced kuh-SEE-loff) has a lot of the great activ­i­ties that oth­er Kenai Penin­su­la towns do — fish­ing, camp­ing and wildlife view­ing. But this tiny town 15 miles south of Sol­dot­na, on the Ster­ling High­way, is also a vibrant dog sled­ding com­mu­ni­ty — while here you can vis­it the ken­nel of Dean Osmar, an Idi­tar­od cham­pi­on, and take a ride behind cham­pi­on dogs. The best fish­ing is at the Kasilof Riv­er and John­son Lake — both…  ...more

the recre­ation area pro­vides pic­nic sites, shel­ters, camp­sites, water and toi­lets. There are excel­lent views of Cook Inlet, the Aleut­ian Moun­tain Range and its three tallest peaks: Mount Iliamna, Mount Redoubt and Mount Spur. There are 125 camp­sites, and the RV size lim­it is 35′. Note: The Depart­ment of Fish & Game has closed clam­ming at Clam Gulch for the last sev­er­al years. Please check the cur­rent sta­tus before harvesting.   ...more

Come to this fish­ing town and you’ll prob­a­bly leave with, among oth­er things, a cool pic­ture of the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church. Built in 1900, the church is a reflec­tion of the Russ­ian fur-trad­ing vil­lage this town used to be — and there is still a Russ­ian com­mu­ni­ty here, though Ninilchik doesn’t strive to be a themed tourist town. Indeed, the quaint Russ­ian sights are not the only great pho­to ops here. Across the Cook Inlet you can see four…  ...more

This tiny town along the Ster­ling High­way may be known as North America’s Most West­er­ly High­way Point,” but it has anoth­er, less­er pub­li­cized claim to fame: this is where locals love to come fish. In the spring, it’s king salmon, fol­lowed by Dol­ly Var­den and sil­ver salmon in the sum­mer; in the fall, you can catch steel­head until freeze-up. Non-anglers here will enjoy beach­comb­ing, brows­ing the art stu­dios and gift shops, watch­ing a…  ...more

Sure, Home­r’s the Hal­ibut Fish­ing Cap­i­tal of Alas­ka,” but even non-anglers will rev­el in this end-of-the-road Alas­ka town. An eclec­tic mix of artists, fish­er­men, and out­door lovers make up the lifeblood of Homer, drawn by its slow pace and post­card-ready set­ting by the clear-water bay. The heart of town is the Homer Spit, a long, nar­row fin­ger of land jut­ting into the bay. Peo­ple from the Low­er 48 come here because they’ve heard it’s…  ...more

Once upon a time, this lit­tle town across Kachemak Bay was big­ger than Homer, with a fish can­ner­ies, busi­ness­es and an exten­sive board­walk. It was even known as the Board­walk Town until the 1964 earth­quake wiped out the board­walk and near­ly wiped out the town. Even so, Sel­dovia is still the biggest of the small com­mu­ni­ties across the bay” from Homer. That said, laid-back Sel­dovia has a decid­ed­ly tiny-town feel: There are no traf­fic signs, no…  ...more

When peo­ple vis­it Homer, they may like to spend a day or two going across the bay”— tak­ing a boat or air taxi across Kachemak Bay to explore the quaint vil­lages that strad­dle the line between towns and wilder­ness. Here you’ll find 375,000 acres of for­est, fjords, moun­tains and ocean. You can hike along 40 miles of trails, fish for salmon or rain­bow trout, or just keep your eyes peeled for wildlife: moose, black bears, moun­tain goats, coyotes…  ...more