It’s not hard to imagine that gorgeous, glistening glaciers have something (okay, everything) to do with the place that is home to the bluest water in the last frontier. Mix in the towering Chugach Mountains combined with the massive Kenai Mountains that seemingly come together to provide the most picture-perfect backdrop to accent the piercing turquoise water. If you aren’t already addicted to this special spot in the place known as
Alaska’s playground, you better get ready to fall in love.
Start your journey to the bluest water in Alaska at the stunning 20-mile-long Kenai Lake in Cooper Landing. Slow down to a speed of 35 miles per hour and drive across the bridge over top of Kenai Lake making your way into the tiny town with an annual population of less than 300 people.
If 300 seems like an unusually small number considering the amount of traffic on the road, please let us explain. You see, this tiny little town is transformed in the summer time. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world flock to this area for the endless amount of outdoor beauty and awesome activities. While many visitors enjoy the mountains, glaciers and wildlife - the place with the bluest water in the state has a way of stealing the show every time.
Make your way through the winding two lane road with lush trees on either side of you and huge snow-capped mountains in the distance. Rainbows on the horizon are quite common, so be sure to keep your eyes on the road and stay focused. What is most mesmerizing is the bright turquoise water that pierces through the trees as you're driving along this narrow road.
So what is all the hype about? Let's just say that it has to do with those three little words that everyone loves to hear. You know, those words that give you goosebumps, make you giddy, cause you to smile uncontrollably and burst out with random spurts of happy dance moves. Okay, we can't hold it from you any longer. Ready for it? THE KENAI RIVER!
The 82-mile-long Kenai River is by far one of the most magical places in the entire 49th state. The first 17 miles of the river between Kenai Lake and Skilak Lake are often times referred to as the "upper." This particular stretch is great for a heavenly float as there are no motors allowed in this drift-only section of the river. The upper is joined by the renowned Russian River which is another very popular spot for sport fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing.
The Kenai River runs along the Sterling Highway through Cooper Landing, Sterling and into Soldotna. Once you make your way into town you can access the river off of K-Beach Road or the Kenai Spur Highway through several different launching sites and campgrounds.
Arguably the most popular sport-fishing destination in the state, a multitude of species of fish can be found in this river.
As you drive along the road through every different town, you're likely to see people lined up at just about every turn out imaginable. The Kenai Peninsula is a fishing community and you'll feel it no matter where you go during the months of May-September.
"Flipping for reds" is a common term that you'll hear in the area for those looking to land some delicious sockeye salmon. Along with sockeye salmon or "reds," silver salmon fishing is another very popular fishery on the river. Probably the most popular species to fish for over the years has been the King Salmon (coho). The world record king salmon pulled out of this river was over 97 pounds in size. Talk about stocking the freezer! In the late summer months and into fall, the Kenai River is home to some of the best trophy trout fishing in the world. If you love the fight and finesse of pulling in a pig, you need to be on this river in September.
The river is also great for fly fishing and enjoying activities such as tubing, kayaking and rafting class II and III rapids in the canyons. Trust us when we say that these 82 miles of river don't offer a single ounce of boredom from start to finish. You will be completely fascinated by beauty and adventure no matter what section you are enjoying.
As with everywhere else in Alaska, be advised that you will be sharing these pristine blue waters with our resident wildlife. Always use caution and remember that this is their land - we're just playing on it.
If you're as crazy as us and choose to fish until the sun goes down, don't worry... the beautiful turquoise blue water will be sparkling even into nightfall. The Kenai River will completely hook you and turn you into a full-on river rat, we guarantee it!
Beautiful river, huh? We’d be lying if we said that we weren’t totally obsessed with this magical place. In fact, one of our favorite activities to enjoy on the river is catching and releasing world class trophy rainbow trout during the late summer and fall months. Check out the video below from
Alaska Drift Away Fishing for an epic up close & personal look at one of Alaska’s most sought-after bucket list items for the angling addicts of the world.