|a l a s k a j o u r n e y . c o m|
|The Kenai Peninsula|
Location/Climate: Northwest Kenai Peninsula at junction of Sterling Highway (AK 1) and Kenai Spur Highway. 17.4" /yr. precip., 6°F66°F.
Population: 3,990 (4.5 percent native).
Travel Attractions: Fishing access, museum, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.
Getting There: Vehicle access via Sterling Highway (AK 1), scheduled air service to Kenai.
Information: Kenai Peninsula Visitor Center, Mile 96 Sterling Highway, Soldotna, AK 99669, 262-1337, www.soldotnachamber.com, open mid-Maymid-September daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Like Wasilla to the north, this wide spot in the road just keeps getting wider. Located at the junction of the Sterling Highway and the Kenai Spur Highwaythe heart of this buildable regionSoldotna is right up there in rate of growth. Many in the area work in the oil business or for the government, though the towns biggest role is as a base for vacationers who seek the not-very-elusive salmon. There are many motels and B&Bs in the area. For comprehensive town and accommodation information, head to the visitor center (see above).
The Soldotna Historical Society Museum offers wildlife exhibits and a historic log village. Its on Centennial Park Road off of Kalifornsky Beach Road, just west of Mile 96.1 Sterling Highway. 262-1337, open summers TuesdaySaturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m.
Another worthy stop is the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Turn east at Mile 96.1 Seward Highway onto Funny River Road, then right to the top of Ski Hill Road; or turn east directly onto Ski Hill Road at Mile 97.9 Sterling Highway. Information, exhibits, and presentations are excellent. 262-7021, kenai.fws.gov. Open MondayFriday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weekends 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A trip down Kalifornsky Beach Road can be an interesting detour for connecting Soldotna or Kenai with Kasilof and the continuation of AK 1 south to Homer. The road runs straight for about 10 miles along a sandy bar backed by wide marshlands. Gas wells share the marsh with waterbirds, while the open sandbar offers views of Cook Inlet, the volcanoes across the water, and, possibly, beluga whales. From the Sterling Highway, turn toward the coast just south of the Kenai River bridge, bear right before the airstrip, then loop north and west to the coast.
Where to Stay and Eat in Soldotna
Accommodations on the Kenai (reservation service), 262-2139. B&Bs, lodges, cabins, charters.
Best Western King Salmon, 35546 Kenai Spur Highway, 262-5857. Good motel, restaurant, $120$160.
Hogg Heaven Cafe, 44715 Sterling Highway, 262-4584. This may be Soldotnas best breakfast place.
Kenai River Lodge, Kenai River Bridge, 262-4292. On the river, nice views. Rooms $60$110.
Sals Klondike Diner, 44619 Sterling Highway, 262-2220. A good 24-hour joint with typical diner fare.
Soldotna Inn, 35041 Kenai Spur Highway, 262-9169. Nice motel with rooms from $85$105. Mykels Restaurant is a good family choice.
Through the Seasons Restaurant, 43960 Sterling Highway, 262-5006. Lunch and dinner. Very nice.