Category Archives: Kenai River

Kenai River

The Kenai River called Kahtnu in the Dena’ina language, is a river in the Kenai Peninsula of south central Alaska. It runs 82 miles (132 km) westward from Kenai Lake in the Kenai Mountains, through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and Skilak Lake to its outlet into the Cook Inlet of the Pacific Ocean near Kenai and Soldotna, Alaska.

The Kenai River [Kee-nye] is a meltwater river that drains the central Kenai Peninsula region. Its source is the Kenai Lake.[1] Near Cooper Landing, the lake narrows to form the river. About 12 miles (19 km) from the lake, the river passes through Kenai Canyon for about 2 miles (3.2 km) of fast-flowing whitewater rapids. The Russian River empties into the Kenai several miles west of Cooper Landing. 17.3 miles (27.8 km) from Kenai Lake, the river enters Skilak Lake. The Kenai to Skilak section is commonly referred to as the “Upper River”. The 19.5 miles (31.4 km) portion from Skilak Lake downstream to the Sterling Highway bridge near Soldotna is known as “Mid-River”. The final 21 miles (34 km) from the bridge to the mouth at Cook Inlet is known as the “Lower River”, where the flow is much gentler. The final 12 miles (19 km) are greatly influenced by changing tides.

Kenai Peninsula

The Kenai Peninsula is a large peninsula jutting from the southern coast of Alaska in the United States. The name Kenai is probably derived from Kenayskaya, the Russian name for Cook Inlet, which borders the peninsula to the west.

The peninsula extends approximately 150 miles (240 km) southwest from the Chugach Mountains, south of Anchorage. It is separated from the mainland on the west by Cook Inlet and on the east by Prince William Sound. Most of the peninsula is part of the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Gerasim Izmailov was the first European man to explore and map the peninsula in 1789, though Athabaskan and Alutiiq Native groups have lived on the peninsula for thousands of years.

The glacier-covered Kenai Mountains (7,000 ft/2,130 m) run along the southeast spine of the peninsula along the coast of the Gulf of Alaska. Much of the range is within Kenai Fjords National Park. The northwest coast along the Cook Inlet is flatter and marshy, dotted with numerous small lakes. Several larger lakes extend through the interior of the peninsula, including Skilak Lake and Tustumena Lake. Rivers include the Kenai River, famous for its salmon population, as well as the Russian River, the Kasilof River, and the Anchor River. Kachemak Bay, a small inlet off the larger Cook Inlet, extends into the peninsula’s southwest end, much of which is part of Kachemak Bay State Park