Cooper Landing straddles the Sterling Highway at the north end of Kenai Lake, and although it has only 357 residents, in the summer it swells with anglers enjoying the famed Kenai River salmon fishery.
About Cooper Landing
Cooper Landing is strung out for several miles along the Sterling Highway, which connects the Kenai Peninsula with Anchorage and points farther north. The heart of town is a five-building national historic district at Mile 48.7 of the Sterling Highway. In a picturesque setting beneath towering mountains and along the banks of the Kenai River is an old post office, a schoolhouse from the 1950s and a homesteader’s cabin that today houses the Cooper Landing Historical Society Museum. Originally inhabited by gold prospectors in the mid- to late 1800s, these days the community is best known for sport fishing.
Things to do
Outfitters and guides take clients to pursue sockeye and coho salmon, Dolly Varden and rainbow trout in the upper Kenai River or sockeye salmon and trout in the nearby Russian River. Fishing fever runs high at the Russian River U.S. Forest Service Campground during the summer and anglers stand shoulder to shoulder, casting from the banks in what is commonly referred to as “combat fishing.”
Cooper Landing is also a popular starting point for raft trips down the Kenai River with a number of outfitters offering raft trips ranging from gentle floats to thrilling Class III whitewater in the Kenai Canyon. After a day on the water, anglers and rafters alike can return to Cooper Landing, which features a wide range of lodging, restaurants and other visitor services.
Fishing guides based in Cooper Landing float the scenic Upper Kenai River in drift boats for rainbow trout and sockeye salmon with clients enjoying either spin or fly fishing. King and silver salmon are the targets on guided floats on the lower Kenai River from powerboats.
Cooper Landing Historical Society Museum
Located at Mile 48.7 Sterling Highway, The Cooper Landing Historical Society Museum overlooks the Kenai River and includes exhibits in two historic buildings. Jack Lean's Cabin was built in the late 1920's and served as the home of the Cooper Landing Post Office for almost 40 years. The School House was built in 1955 and used until September 2001. Also at the museum is a picnic area and a gift shop.
Visitors can rent mountain bikes in Cooper Landing and then hit area trails for an day of off-road cycling. Among the popular trails for mountain bikers are the Crescent Lake Trail and the Resurrection Pass Trail
Outfitters offer a variety of raft trips on the Kenai River from Cooper Landing. Trips range from scenic three-hour floats to all-day adventures that include the adrenaline-rush of whitewater in the Kenai Canyon.
Russian River US Forest Service Campground
This U.S. Forest Service campground is located at Mile 52.6 Sterling Highway where the Russian and Kenai Rivers merge. The 83-site campground is both beautiful and popular, especially with anglers when the sockeye salmon are spawning. But it's possible to reserve a site in advance
US Forest Service Cabins
Scattered in the Chugach National Forest that surrounds Cooper Landing are numerous U.S. Forest Service cabins
that can be reserved in advance. Many require float plane transport that can be arranged with charter air service operators in Cooper Landing. Others, most notably on the Resurrection Pass Trail and the Russian Lakes Trail, can be reached on foot.