Is Cooper Landing, Alaska, Worth Visiting?

Cooper Landing, Alaska, is conveniently located in the center of the Kenai Peninsula. This special place attracts visitors year after year to Kenai Fjords National Park, where whales and other marine life congregate.

Tourists also marvel at the Alaska Bore Tide near Hope and kayak through the bays of Kachemak Bay near Homer. The peninsula has something for everyone!

Let’s take a closer look at Cooper Landing and see how you can spend a day or two enjoying life in Alaska!

Where is Cooper Landing, Alaska located?

Cooper Landing is located in the heart of the Kenai Peninsula, about two hours from and 100 miles south of Anchorage.

The Kenai and Russian Rivers intersect here, and the place is an ideal spot for fishing. Many also come for rafting and hiking. Highway 1 runs right through town, Kenai Lake is to the southeast, and Kenai Fjords National Park is a little further south.

How big is Cooper Landing?

Cooper Landing is about 70 square miles, most of which is land. According to the 2020 census, fewer than 350 people live here. The center of the community is located at the western end of Kenai Lake. Even though Cooper Landing is a small town on the peninsula, the people who live here are doing well.

No one lives below the poverty line, and the average family income is $51,000. Just over half of the population is between the ages of 25 and 64.

Because of its convenient location on Highway 1, Cooper Landing is easy to reach. It takes about two hours and 15 minutes to drive to the southern end of the Kenai Peninsula in Homer. And it’s less than two hours to Anchorage.

Are there places to camp in Cooper Landing, Alaska?

There are several places to camp in Cooper Landing, Alaska. We stayed at Quartz Creek Campground in the Chugach National Forest between Kenai Lake and Quartz Creek.

The campground overlooks the lake and offers guests excellent access to boating, fishing, and hiking. There are 46 sites, and campers have access to drinking water, flush toilets, a boat ramp and picnic areas.

Cooper Creek South Campground is another site in the Chugach National Forest. Like Quartz Creek Campground, this site offers expansive views and outdoor recreational activities, but is slightly smaller with only 20 sites.

A third option in the Chugach National Forest is the Russian River Campground. This campground has 83 sites and offers guests water, vault toilets, tables, fire pits, and dumpsters. It is one of the most popular campgrounds in Cooper Landing.

Are there any hiking trails in Cooper Landing, Alaska?

Hiking on the Kenai Peninsula is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. From forested valleys to open meadows to colorful lakes, this area is a paradise. Many enjoy the Russian River Falls Trail and the Johnson Pass Trail.

The Falls Trail is a 4.7-mile out-and-back hike with a 557-foot elevation gain. Keep your eyes peeled for jumping salmon. Johnson Pass is over 22 miles long, but numerous trails lead to different trailheads if you don’t want to hike the whole way.

The Carter Lake Trail will really get your muscles working. With an elevation gain of 1,105 feet, your thighs will soon be burning. But this 3.7-mile out-and-back trail takes you through forests to beautiful valleys and meadow vistas.

View of the Kenai Peninsula.

5 things to do in Cooper Landing, Alaska

Cooper Landing, Alaska, may be small, but there’s no shortage of things to do here. Whether you’re visiting for a day or a week, there’s plenty to do here! Let’s take a look at five of our favorite activities.

1. take a boat tour on Kenai Lake

Kenai Float-n-Fish offers sailing tours on Kenai Lake. This two-hour tour runs June through August and costs $80 per person. The company also offers river trips on the Kenai River. You can book half-day or full-day trips or ice fishing.

John and Heather and their two daughters are dedicated to making your Kenai Float-n-Fish trip memorable while maintaining “Mom and Pop” hospitality.

2. pan for gold with Prospector John

Prospector John’s is aimed at tourists on the Kenai Peninsula near Cooper Landing, Alaska. Try panning for gold or prospecting for gems on site. You can also take a half- or full-day trip to Devil’s Canyon on the Dredge Adventure.

Gold prospector John knows all about this region. He received a streambed prospecting permit from the U.S. Forest Service in 2010, so he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Pro Tip: Before you pan for gold in Alaska, check out these helpful tips!

Rae and Jason panning for gold on the Prospector John Tour in Cooper Landing, Alaska.

3rd Drink at Cooper Landing Brewing Company.

Cooper Landing Brewing Company is located less than a mile from Quartz Creek Campground. This microbrewery is open daily from noon to 8 p.m. and offers some of Alaska’s best beers.

Try the Bean Creek Blonde, Hazy Angler IPA, Arterial Red Ale, Cooper Landing Pale or Porcupine Porter. Enjoy the outdoor patio or grab a comfy chair inside.

A beer flight featuring four different colorful beers at a brewery in Cooper Landing, Alaska.

4. watch the wild salmon jump at the Russian River Falls

The hike to Russian River Falls is enjoyed by many because of the wild salmon festival. The trail begins near the Russian River Campground and follows a level gravel trail suitable for all abilities.

This trail is ideal for families! Two miles into the hike, you’ll see the beautiful waterfalls and a viewpoint where you can watch the salmon. However, always be on the lookout for bears. Where there are salmon, there are bears in Alaska.

View of the Russian River Falls in Cooper Landing, Alaska.

5. visit the K’beq’ Interpretive Site

Finally, during your visit to Cooper Landing, Alaska, you can learn about Native people at the K’beq’ Interpretive Site. K’beq’ means “footprints,” and this cultural center gives visitors a glimpse into traditional Dena’ina customs and culture. There are interpretive signs and a boardwalk that circles the house.

Don’t forget: Is legal to camp anywhere in Alaska? Let’s take a look!

When is the best time to visit Cooper Landing?

Like most parts of Alaska, Cooper Landing is busy in the summer. If you’d rather enjoy winter delights like ice fishing or snowmobiling, you can make the trip in the off-season.

But with the summer solstice comes the long daylight hours – plenty of time to enjoy the beauty, recreation and culture of Cooper Landing, Alaska.

Also, many tours and attractions are only open from June through September. Always check websites or call for the most up-to-date information on hours.

Enjoy the small town of Cooper Landing on your next visit to the Kenai Peninsula.

The Kenai Peninsula is known for world-class salmon fishing, spectacular scenery, rich Native history and much more. Cooper Landing, Alaska, is located in the heart of this region. If you are traveling south of Anchorage, stop in and take in all that this community has to offer.

Have you ever been to Cooper Landing, Alaska?

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