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.