Sterling Highway

The Sterling Highway begins at the Tern Lake Junction of the Seward Highway and stretches 142 miles to the town of Homer. While the highway is open year round, it is much busier during the summer months, as it leads to some of the best fishing spots along the Kenai River. The Kenai area is known as “Alaska’s Playground”, so in addition to fishing you will find a wealth of outdoor activities such as canoeing, rafting, flightseeing, horseback riding, hiking, and more. This guide features some of the best places to stop along the way. Route 1 from Tern Lake to Homer. 50-60 mph, except 45 mph near Cooper Landing.

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Sterling Highway

Locat­ed at the inter­sec­tion of the Seward and Ster­ling high­ways at Mile­post 37. This area hosts a myr­i­ad of ani­mals, birds, fish, and unique plants. Com­mon loons, bald eagles, and arc­tic terns share the area with a vari­ety of song­birds and shore­birds like the north­ern water thrush, gold­en-crowned spar­row, and the greater yel­lowlegs. Beavers, riv­er otters, muskrats, and salmon ply the cold, clear waters of Tern Lake. Moose, Dall sheep, and…  ...more

Season: Mid-May – Mid-Sept $249+

This 86-room lodge not only has end­less views over a vast val­ley, but it also sits on the banks of the Kenai Riv­er, which teems with fish. With vault­ed ceil­ings made of nat­u­ral­ly fin­ished wood, cozy sit­ting areas with wood-burn­ing stoves and pri­vate porch­es, it’s easy to feel like the whole place is yours. The area is famous for its fish­ing, but you also have easy access to Kenai Fjords Nation­al Park, a wild land filled with glac­i­ers, marine  ...more

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 18-mile-long loop grav­el road is the pre­mier wildlife-view­ing area on the Kenai Penin­su­la, and you’ll get spec­tac­u­lar views of lakes and glac­i­ers. Don’t for­get to stop and explore all the nature and wildlife around you! 

This 18-mile-long loop grav­el road is the pre­mier wildlife-view­ing area on the Kenai Penin­su­la, and you’ll get spec­tac­u­lar views of lakes and glac­i­ers. Don’t for­get to stop and explore all the nature and wildlife around you! 

If you have your own canoe or kayak, stop for a pad­dle on Ski­lak Lake, locat­ed in the Kenai Nation­al Wildlife Refuge. For a quick hike with good views, go down Ski­lak Lake Road, past Hid­den Lake camp­ground, to Ski­lak Lake Look­out Trail. Get a glimpse of Ski­lak Glac­i­er and look out over the lake. You can be up and back in 11.5 hours. Up for some­thing longer? Here are two good day hikes: Depend­ing on time, tack­le the Sky­line Trail. Right…  ...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

At the Sol­dot­na dump you can some­times see sev­er­al hun­dred eagles at once. 

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 Alas­ka Depart­ment of Fish & Game oper­ate the Crooked Creek hatch­ery, adult salmon may be viewed mov­ing up the stream and fish­way into the hatch­ery race­ways; king salmon in late June and ear­ly July and coho salmon in late August and Sep­tem­ber. Each salmon is iden­ti­fied and count­ed as it swims through the chute using an under­wa­ter video camera.

Sounds Wild: Porky Babies­Porcu­pines are not often seen along the main paved roads of the Kenai Penin­su­la. You have to get off on the grav­el side roads that pass through their habi­tat. Tus­tu­me­na Lake road trav­els through the Kenai Wildlife Refuge and ends at the Kasilof Riv­er camp­ground. This road is great for view­ing var­i­ous birds includ­ing spruce grouse, thrush­es and chick­adees. Moose are found along this road and if you are real­ly lucky, a…  ...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

Stop at the Scenic View RV Park for a breath­tak­ing view of four vol­ca­noes. Mt. Iliamna, Mt. Redoubt, Mt. Augus­tine and Mt. Spurr. These smol­der­ing moun­tains are part of the pacif­ic ring of fire” with Mt. Redoubt erupt­ing as recent­ly as March 2009. Look for the inter­pre­tive sign to learn more about Alas­ka volcanoes. 

Russ­ian fur traders col­o­nized this fish­ing vil­lage in 1820. Steeped in the his­to­ry of ear­ly Russ­ian Amer­i­ca, it offers an old-world set­ting with its Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church on the hill, quaint fish­er­men’s cot­tages and log homes. Infor­ma­tion signs tell the his­to­ry of Ninilchik and walk­ing tour maps are avail­able at local busi­ness­es. A trail leads to the church and ceme­tery on the hill. The road con­tin­ues to the beach where camp­sites are available.  ...more

Many events are held here through­out the year, the largest being the Kenai Penin­su­la Fair held annu­al­ly the 3rd week­end in August. Locals call this the biggest lit­tle fair in Alas­ka. The fes­tiv­i­ties include a rodeo, parade, live­stock com­pe­ti­tion, horse show and exhibits rang­ing from arts and crafts to produce.

King salmon enter Deep Creek dur­ing late May and ear­ly June and con­tin­ue to spawn into ear­ly July. Watch for their dark red bod­ies in the rif­fles and deep­er holes. A very lim­it­ed fish­ing sea­son is pro­vid­ed dur­ing the ear­ly sum­mer for kings and steelheads.

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

Wit­ness giant trac­tors tow­ing the Kenai Penin­su­la’s fleet out to water’s edge and launch­ing them into the tide on their quest for fish. You can camp here, scout for wildlife, fish for steel­head, and enjoy some of the best puf­fin view­ing on the Kenai.

Vis­i­tors dri­ving down to Homer (south west from Anchor­age) find a per­fect pull out rest stop on the right side of the high­way on the hill above town. From this van­tage, they get a pre­view of the plea­sures to come. Fish­ing boats’ win­dows twin­kle out in Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay, the Spit stretch­es half way across Kachemak Bay, and the snowy moun­tains on far side of the bay, embrac­ing Kachemak Bay State Park, plus of course the the town itself.  ...more

The Homer Spit is a long, nar­row fin­ger of land jut­ting 4.5 miles into Kachemak Bay. Dot­ted with busi­ness­es, the area caters to vis­i­tors and pro­vides numer­ous recre­ation oppor­tu­ni­ties, from fish­ing and beach­comb­ing to shop­ping and boating.