Cooper Landing in Alaska is a small town located on the Kenai Peninsula, 100 mi (160 km) south of Anchorage. The town sits between on the shores of Kenai Lake and the banks of the Kenai River. Outdoor activities include fishing, camping, hiking and bear viewing along the Russian River.
The primary draw for visitors to Cooper Landing is the Kenai River. The Landing is at the point where the river flows out of the massive Kenai Lake and features world-class fishing and boating. The settlement is surrounded on all sides by park lands in either the Chugach National Forest or the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, so it's easy to get out into the true wilderness from the Landing.
Road access is via the Sterling Highway. If you are coming from Anchorage, go south on the Seward Highway and watch for the signs. It is a distance of over seventy miles between Girdwood, the last place to get fuel, and Cooper Landing, so be sure to fill up on your way down. There is no airport in Cooper Landing, however chartered float planes can land on the lake.
You're going to need a car or a boat. Cooper Landing is a relatively small town and has no public transit. There is sometimes a local taxi service.
Cooper Landing is located on the shores of Kenai Lake and the Kenai River, with mountains all around. The emerald green waters of the river feature some of the best freshwater salmon fishing in the world. A ferry can also transport you across the Kenai to the mouth of the Russian River.
The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is untamed Alaska at it's best, and yet is fairly easy to access. Be aware that if you rent a car, they may explicitly forbid driving it on unpaved and rough Skilak Lake Road, the primary access to the Refuge. When road conditions are particularly poor (usually following late snowmelt and/or prolonged heavy rain) the road will have illuminated signs at either end recommending four-wheel-drive vehicles only. Wash boarding can also be severe on this road. All that being said, the scenery is spectacular, there’s lots of wildlife, and several free lakeside campgrounds, as well as public-use cabins that can be rented either online or at the Refuge offices in Soldotna. Be sure to ask about access when renting, none of them are drive-up and require at least a short walk or paddle.
There are various fishing guide services in Cooper Landing, or if you prefer you can simply go down to the river and throw in a line. Be sure you have a valid Alaska fishing license and are aware of current local rules, given the importance of this fishery it is not uncommon for the Department of Fish and Game to conduct spot checks to insure all fishing is done on a legal basis. A limited number of companies are authorized to guide through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most pristine wildernesses on the peninsula. There are also outfitters who can take you on a rafting trip down the Kenai River to Skilak Lake. If you bring your own boat, be aware of regulations prohibiting motors on some stretches of the river.
- Kenai River Fly Fishing, ☏ . Guided sport fishing trips and services since 1987.
- Gwin's Lodge, right on the highway, is a local instituition that has been housing and feeding fishermen for decades.
- The Kenai Princess Lodge is on the bank opposite the main body of the town. It features bungalow-style rooms with wood burning fireplaces and private porches. There is a short, easy trail leading to a deck over the river, perfect for fishing or just watching the river go by.
|Routes through Cooper Landing|
|Anchorage ← Moose Pass ←||N S||→ Soldotna → Homer|