The Sterling Highway runs along the western edge of the Kenai Peninsula and features extraordinary mountain scenery, sparkling lakes, glacier-fed streams, and beautiful coastal inlets. Wildlife abounds along this scenic route and you’ll probably even encounter a giant Kenai moose. The highway begins at mile 37 of the Seward Highway and travels 142 miles to Homer at the southwest end of the Kenai Peninsula. Mileage markers along this route read from Seward (mile 0) to Homer (mile 173). Details for the first 37 miles of this highway will be found in the highway description of the Seward Highway. The Sterling Highway accesses the towns of Cooper Landing, Sterling, Soldotna, Kenai, Clam Gulch, Ninilchik and Anchor Point. This is a good two lane highway with lots of passing lanes.
It was first opened in 1951 and was one of many roads surveyed by Hawley Sterling within Alaska. Some of the best fishing, camping, birding and hiking anywhere in the world can be found in the Kenai. The world record King salmon, caught on a line, was from the Kenai River.
After taking you through the Chugach National Forest and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge the highway runs parallel to Cook Inlet and offers breathtaking views, across the water of snow capped Mt. Iliamna, Mt. Redoubt, and Mt. Augustine. All of which are active volcanoes. Mt. Augustine last erupted in 2006 creating spectacular ash plumes that reached 8 miles high.
With over 15,000 square miles of extraordinary adventure and excitement to choose from, people from all over Alaska come to “Alaska’s Playground” when they need a reminder of why they moved here in the first place.
Campgrounds are plentiful in the Kenai and when the fish are running, competition for campsites and fishing space can be a challenge so plan ahead. The area near the Russian River and Kenai confluence is especially busy when the Red Salmon are running. The Kenai is also famous for clamming. However, due to a devastating storm that washed out the clam beds there has been a total ban for harvesting clams at Clam Gulch and Ninilchik since 2015.
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is home to moose, eagles, brown and black bears, lynx, wolves, trumpeter swans as well as a myriad of other birds and animals. The main Visitor Center is in Soldotna but there is a visitor contact station at mile 60 of the Sterling Highway.