Alaska is huge! You could spend a lifetime exploring the far reaches of this big state. Simply trying to catch all the "highlights" on a short vacation can seem daunting. Here are 5 ways to get the most out of your Alaskan family vacation by making Cooper Landing your home base:
1. LODGING/COMMUTING - To rent an RV or not to. That is the question! Whether you choose to rent an RV or a car, Cooper Landing boasts a multitude of comfortable camping and VRBO options. The key to a stress-free trip is to book early! Whether it's the Princess Wilderness RV site, the Russian River Campground or vacation rentals like Riverhaven, The Bear Den or The River House, we're sure you'll find exactly the experience you're looking for!
RV's can be a good option as our area boasts hundreds of camp sites. You essentially drive your hotel room wherever you'd like and if you're tired after a long day of ocean fishing or sightseeing, you can virtually stop anywhere and call it home for the night.
2. FISHING - World-class fishing goes hand-in-hand with any Alaskan vacation. Cooper Landing ranks among the top destinations around the state for salmon and trout fishing and is a great jump-off point for exceptional ocean fishing only a short drive away.
The world-famous Kenai River originates in Cooper Landing, Alaska. The Kenai is home to the world-record King Salmon and boasts prolific runs of sockeye, pink and coho salmon. The epic runs of salmon also keep a native population of trophy Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden well-fed. Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden are extremely popular catch and release sport fish on the Kenai River and the chance at hooking and landing the fish of a lifetime is a real possibility.
Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC calls this little town home and we aren't shy about our passion for fishing the Kenai River almost daily! We are kid-friendly and welcome anglers of all ability levels! We always have up-to-the-minute knowledge about the health of the salmon runs and have a great understanding of when the best times to fish for Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden are as well. One of the great benefits to fishing the Kenai River in Cooper Landing is the vast wealth of the local fishing guides, many of which live here year-round and have been fishing these waters for years!
A trip to Alaska wouldn't be complete without a day on the ocean fishing for Halibut. Not only are halibut true giants, they are some of the best tasting fish you'll ever catch! There's nothing like hauling a hundred pound fish from the depths of the ocean! A day dragging these behemoths to the surface will prove to be an unforgettable experience! Seward, Alaska is a short 45 minute drive from Cooper Landing and is home to exceptional halibut fishing - the charters out of Miller's Landing are hard to beat! Another option is to head to the Halibut Capitol of the World, about a 2 hour drive south - Homer, Alaska is genuinely worth the drive! Not only can the drive be extremely scenic with mountain and volcano views across Cook Inlet, the fishing is truly epic! - Definitely worth the day trip!
3. SIGHTSEEING - One of the trips that we would take every year is the Kenai Fjord Tour out of Seward, Alaska. Truly majestic views of towering glaciers and rock formations, not to mention endless wildlife - all day! Visitors have a realistic chance to spot Killer Whales, Humpback Whales, Porpoises, Sea Lions, Seals, Otters, Puffins and Bears - to name a few.
The Kenai Fjord Tour will prove to be a day well-spent with a variety of options ranging from 3.5 hour to 9 hour tours. They have food and drinks onboard for purchase and also have an option to stop off at Fox Island for a prime rib and salmon buffet.
4. HIKING - A couple of our favorite family-friendly hikes are the Russian River Falls here in Cooper Landing and a ride up the Alyeska Tram in Girdwood to hike to the top of the Alyeska Ski Resort.
If watching hundreds of Sockeye Salmon attempt to jump up the Russian Falls to continue their 100+ mile journey up the Kenai River into the Russian River sounds interesting, it sure is! With the chance of seeing Black and Brown Bears fishing the clear waters of the Russian River, a hike up to the falls and down the river is a great family adventure! Well-marked trails and convenient parking help make this one of the best ways for families to observe some of Alaska's truly wild animals in their natural habitat. - Definitely take all the necessary precautions while in bear country when venturing out to the falls - our bears are calm and alert, but definitely do not enjoy being surprised! Always announce your presence; carrying bear spray is recommended.
A day spent in Girdwood riding up the Alyeska Tram will prove to be a worthwhile experience. Girdwood is about an hour drive from Cooper Landing and is situated on the Turnagain Arm - it is a great destination to hit on your way to or from Cooper Landing from Anchorage. The short tram ride up to the top of Alyeska Ski Resort showcases great views of the Turnagain Arm as well as a multitude of distant glaciers and towering mountain landscapes. From the top of the tram, you can climb even further by foot to the upper ski lifts where you may observe downhill mountain bikers, ice climbers and world-class athletes training and enjoying the park. There are also 2 dining options at the top of the mountain: Seven Glaciers, a AAA 4 diamond restaurant and Bore Tide Deli and Bar, a more casual dining experience
5. CONSERVATION CENTERS- The Alaska Sea Life Center and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center provide great opportunities to view, up close, the vast array of aquatic and terrestrial animals that call Alaska home. Visiting these centers puts you in touch with these often endangered or threatened animals. You'll learn all about life cycles, eating habits and about their home ranges.
The Alaska Sea Life Center, located in Seward is a public Aquarium and marine mammal rehabilitation center and is the only facility in the world dedicated to the study of the northern marine environment and is dedicated to public education and research. You'll definitely want to schedule a tour of the facility in advance as they often fill up quickly! Kids will enjoy hands-on learning and up-close encounters in the touch-tank and other exhibits like the 2 story diving pool.
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is located on the Turnagain Arm about halfway between Anchorage and Cooper Landing. The AWCC is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Alaska's wildlife through conservation, research, education and quality animal care. The center is home to displaced, abandoned and injured wildlife that have found a forever home. Visitors can walk or drive the 1.5 mile loop and view animals in open pens and enclosures. The AWCC is home to Gray Wolves, Tundra Wolves, Wood Bison, Black Bears, Brown Bears (Coastal Bears and Grizzly Bears), Sitka Black Tailed Deer, Bald Eagles, Elk, Foxes, Lynx, Moose, Musk Ox, Owls, Porcupines and Reindeer. Getting an up-close view of these amazing animals makes for an exciting encounter and is sure to leave lasting memories!
These are just a few of the many things to do and see in and around Cooper Landing, Alaska. At Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC, we are more than just fishing guides, we are educators and advocates for our fish, wildlife, town and great state. If you are planning a trip to Alaska, look us up. We build custom fishing trips and can help with any of your trip planning needs!