The famous Kenai River is one of the most spectacular and scenic attractions in North America. Part of the Kenai Peninsula, the river boasts an abundance of Chinook, Sockeye, Coho, and Pink Salmon, as well as some of the largest Dolly Varden and Rainbow trout. Its surroundings are habitat to Bald Eagles, Moose, Carribu, Wolves, Bear and other magnificent Alaskan wildlife.
Winding over 85 miles across the Kenai Peninsula, the river is a natural setting where time stands still, and spirits are lifted by breathtaking beauty. From its start at the Snow Glacier, past the pristine landscapes of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and Kenai Lake, to Cook Inlet where it empties into the Gulf of Alaska, the Kenai is simply spectacular!
The Kenai River is a glacial river that drains the central Kenai Peninsula region. Its source is the Kenai Lake. Near the town of Cooper Landing, the lake narrows to form the river. About 12 miles from the lake, the river passes through Kenai Canyon for 2 miles of whitewater rapids. The first of many tributaries is the Russian River which empties into the Kenai several miles east of Cooper Landing. A very popular location for shore fishing for Sockeye Salmon as well as hiking maintained trails and provides opportunity to view the salmon traverse water falls on their way to the spawning grounds near Russian Lake. There is a campground and well maintained facilities at the confluence of the Russian-Kenai River. 17.3 miles from Kenai Lake, the river forms Skilak Lake. The Kenai to the Skilak Lake section is commonly referred to as the “Upper River”. This section of river is a Drift Boat fishery renowned for the magnificent Rainbow Trout fishery. Be aware that plans to fish this section of the Kenai River must be made well in advance of the season and access is limited. The 19.5 miles section of river from Skilak Lake downstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge near Soldotna is known as “Middle-River”. This section of the river is a favorite for Rainbow Trout, Sockeye as well as King Salmon fishing. The”Middle” river is a favorite for fishing away from the crowds and taking in the scenic beauty of Wild Alaska. The final 21 miles from the Soldotna Bridge to the mouth at the Cook Inlet is known as the “Lower River”, where the flow is much gentler. This section of river receives the most fishing pressure especially during the high season for Chinook salmon. The world record King Salmon was caught on this section of river by Les Anderson, a Soldotna resident and hit the scales at a magnificent 97-pound, 4 ounce on May 17 1985. The final 12 miles are greatly influenced by changing tides. Bill White guides the river from Skilak Lake to the mouth of the river at the Cook Inlet. Years learning all sections of the river enable Alaska Sports Lodge to select where to fish based on the movement of the fish.
There are so many reason to visit the Kenai, but perhaps the most famous activity on the river is fishing. These waters are some of the most famous, most intensely managed fisheries in the world, and whichever type of salmon or trout you are looking for, Bill White’s Alaska Sports Lodge offers world-class fishing opportunities. With fish averaging over 45 pounds, a 70 pound King Salmon is not uncommon!