Nikiski boasts an enviable location adjacent to Captain Cook State Recreation Area on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and enjoys views of several dormant volcanoes from town.
Nikiski is an oil and gas town, with on-shore production facilities and offshore drilling platforms in Cook Inlet. The community’s more than 4,000 residents mostly work in and around this industry, and the discovery of oil on the peninsula in 1957 is what led Nikiski to grow from a small homesteading community to what it is today.
Things to do
Captain Cook State Recreation Area, a 3,460-acre state park nine miles north of Nikiski along Kenai Spur Highway, is the main draw for visitors. This quiet state recreation area encompasses forests, lakes, rivers and wide beaches along Cook Inlet and features incredible views of the Alaska Range volcanoes. The state recreation area features campgrounds, hiking trails, boat launch, even a bathhouse and a swimming area on Stormy Lake. The Swanson River empties into the Cook Inlet in the area, attracting the attention of anglers casting for silver and red salmon and rainbow trout. This is also the west end of the Swanson River Canoe Trail, an 80-mile paddle through the wilderness heart of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
For those who’d rather swim indoors, the Nikiski Pool at Mile 23.4 of the Kenai Spur Highway features a large heated pool with 136-foot-long waterslide, hot tubs and a visitor observation area. Outside there are picnic facilities and a playground.
Birders will find Captain Cook State Recreation Area
an excellent destination with possible sightings including bald eagles, sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans, arctic and common loons, golden-eye ducks, mergansers, thrushes, warblers, and jays.
Captain Cook State Recreation Area
just north of Nikiski is the west end of the Swanson River canoe route. The Swanson River system links more than 40 lakes and 46 miles of river in the northern lowlands of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
with a one-way trip being an 80-mile paddle from Swan Lake Road to Cook Inlet. For a much shorter outing canoers will spend an afternoon paddling the park's Stormy Lake.
Nikiski Family Fun in the Midnight
Celebrating the longest day of the year, the Nikiski Family Fun in the Midnight Sun festival begins with foot races and continues with variety of contests such as three-legged races, egg and water balloon tosses and a obstacle course. In between there are carnival games, food and music to round out the day-long festival.
Nikiski is blessed with an excellent indoor pool and recreation area. The Nikiski Pool is a dome-shaped building that features a large pool heated to 84 degrees with 136-foot-long waterslide, splash area, hot tubs and a visitor observation area. Outside there are picnic facilities and a playground.
In Captain Cook State Recreation Area
anglers head to Swanson River to catch rainbow trout and silver salmon during late summer spawning runs. In Stormy Lake they cast for rainbows and arctic char and then return in the winter to ice fishing through the lake's frozen surface.