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. 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.