From rafting and fishing to wildlife viewing and just plain relaxing in a beautiful landscape, the Upper Kenai packs everything you’d want out of an Alaska adventure—and has been called the state’s best-kept secret. Only a one-hour drive from Anchorage along the Seward Highway, the Upper Kenai is a goldmine. Here are five not-to-miss activities in this beautiful region while working a summer job in Alaska.
Raft Cooper Landing
A hub of outdoor adventure, Cooper Landing is nestled in the majestic Kenai Mountains and offers both smooth, relaxing floats or splashy, heart-stopping rapids along the Kenai River. You’ll drift through freshwater salmon fisheries, rocky canyon walls and graceful gravel bars. Whether you prefer a languid or lively day, Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge offers a float that will suit your style.
Spy on wildlife
Even if you’re not into fishing, you’ll likely fall for the fish of the Upper Kenai—if only because they play such a vital role in the life cycle of all the area’s other wildlife. A trip to the Upper Kenai puts you right in the middle of the habitats of wild animals from wolverines and moose to eagles and swans. Bring your binoculars and the longest camera lens you own.
Fish the peaceful Upper Kenai
Part of what makes the Upper Kenai so unique is that powerboats aren’t allowed. So if a peaceful day of fly fishing sounds like heaven, this is your place. The quiet drift-only area keeps a special feel of wilderness that way. In the summer, you might have a chance to land a giant sockeye salmon on its way upstream.
Hike the trail on a mountain bike
The mountain biking at Cooper Landing attracts guest riders from around the world. Trails like Crescent Lake and Lost Lake take you from alpine tundra to lush forests on a screaming fun singletrack. If you don’t have a bike, rentals are available in Seward.
Hike from cabin to cabin (or tent)
The landscape around Cooper Landing is strewn with scenic trails, up mountains, through meadows and along rivers. One fun way to explore the area is to hike Resurrection Pass where public-use cabins dot the way. The trail climbs over the pass over the course of 39 miles, so you’ll be sure to want to enjoy some time putting your feet up for a night or two in a cabin along the way. Pack your fishing gear to hit the lakes along the way.
The Upper Kenai’s landscape can be as raw and adventurous as you want. Fun trails, huge megafauna and fast flowing rivers can spark your adrenaline, but a quiet afternoon of fly fishing might just help lower your blood pressure. If wild landscapes make you happy, don’t skip a trip to the Upper Kenai. And if you would love to work in such an amazing place, be sure to see which Alaska summer jobs we have available on the Kenai Peninsula!