"MORE THAN JUST A WIDE SPOT IN THE ROAD..."
As the Sterling Highway widens headed west from Cooper Landing, you'll pass through what looks like a relatively small highway town. It doesn't seem like there could be upwards of 5,000 residents inhabiting this area; however, the town of Sterling encompasses nearly 77 square miles and most residents live well off the highway.
Sterling is located 138 miles southwest of Anchorage, 12 miles east of Soldotna and approximately 34 miles from Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC's home base in Cooper Landing.
Sterling, Alaska is home to the famed "Middle Kenai River" with several access points conveniently located along the Sterling Highway. Most notably, the confluence of the Moose River and Kenai River at the Isaak Walton Recreation Site. Bing's Landing is also a well-known campground and boat launch for those wishing to access the Kenai River.
Located 150 miles southwest of Anchorage and approximately 45 miles from Cooper Landing, Soldotna is 10 miles inland from Cook Inlet. Originating in the 1940's as a series of homesteads from World War II veterans, the construction of the Sterling highway and Kenai Spur Road in the 1950's, as well as the discovery of oil in nearby Swanson River, increased the population of the area, as well as the economy.
Due to its central location on the Kenai Peninsula, Soldotna has become a major retail hub, with many business, both large and small, calling the community home. It is also the location of administrative offices for the Kenai Peninsula Borough, the regional hospital, and a multitude of other agencies, specifically those designated to protect and maintain the Kenai River and surrounding wildlife refuge.
The city itself maintains five areas along the Kenai River, including Centennial and Swiftwater Campgrounds, Soldotna and Rotary Parks, and the Classic Walkway at the Soldotna Visitor Center. These facilities include stairways and boardwalks along the river and provide some onshore fishing opportunities, although they may be quite crowded depending on the time of year. Most of the land bordering these sites along the river is privately owned or heavily restricted due to the immense impact bank erosion has on the fishery. The bridge in Soldotna marks the beginning of what is referred to as the "Lower River", which extends to Cook Inlet, and is influenced by the tides more so than other sections of the river.