Located at the intersection of the Sterling and Kenai Spur highways on the Kenai Peninsula and born when both roads were completed in the 1940s, Soldotna might be just another service center if not for one major factor: the Kenai River runs through it.
Each summer, thousands of Alaska residents and visitors alike stream into Soldotna on a quest for legendary Kenai River salmon. In fact, the world’s largest king salmon was plucked from the waters of the Kenai River in 1985 and the 97.2-pound trophy now hangs on the wall of the Soldotna Visitor Information Center. Biologists believe genetics and the fact that Kenai River salmon often spend an extra year at sea account for their gargantuan size. A trophy salmon elsewhere in Alaska is a 50-pound fish, while here, anglers don't get too excited until a king salmon tops 75 pounds.
All this makes Soldotna the most fish-crazy place in Alaska during the summer and the fastest growing city on the Kenai Peninsula with a population of just more than 4,000 residents. Soldotna is a full-service community and well set up for the wave of anglers who flock here from mid-May through September for the runs of red, silver and especially the king salmon in the lower Kenai River.
Things to do
Numerous charter guides are located in the area and use drift boats to float their clients over the best holes and runs in the Kenai River while everything a visitor needs to catch a king can be found in the sport and tackle shops in town. Soldotna has even constructed several public fish walks at Centennial Park Campground, Swiftwater Park Campground, Soldotna Creek Park and behind the visitor information center to make the river more accessible to bank anglers. All of Soldotna’s boardwalks have public access and are free for your enjoyment.
Not interested in fishing? Soldotna also offers many other attractions including the Soldotna Homestead Museum with a wonderful collection of homesteaders' cabins spread through six wooded acres in Centennial Park, access to nearby hiking trails and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center nearby. The refuge center is a family-friendly attraction with displays on the lifecycles of salmon, wildlife films shown in its theater, and naturalist-led outdoor programs in the refuge on the weekends.