Want to know more about Soldotna Alaska?

FRequently Asked Questions

Not sure where to find the answer to a burning travel question about Soldotna or you just want to learn an interesting quip? 

We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions, so problem solved!

Destination Information

Soldotna is located in the heart of the Kenai Peninsula, in south central Alaska. It is located  150 road miles south of Anchorage and 10 road miles east of Kenai.

Want to drive into town? The city of Soldotna is located 150 miles from Anchorage. Rent a vehicle at Ted Stevens International Airport for this beautiful, scenic drive or an RV from the many recreational vehicle agencies! 

If you’re looking to get here quicker, you can always catch a flight. Soldotna is a 25 minute flight from Anchorage. Flights arrive in Kenai – located 10 miles from Soldotna. From there you can rent a car or hail a cab to arrive to Alaska’s Kenai River City. 

Once in Soldotna, driving, walking, and biking are the top 3 ways for getting around. Bike rentals are available from Beemuns Variety- Bike & Ski Loft.

Kenai Municipal Airport (serving larger aircraft 10 miles west of Soldotna) and Soldotna Municipal Airport (serving private and smaller aircraft in Soldotna) are your best bets locally. The Kenai Municipal Airport tends to be the commercial air transportation gateway to the Kenai Peninsula Borough and West Cook Inlet. It has a restaurant and a bar, car rentals, and taxis. RAVN Alaska and Grant Air are the domestic airlines that serve Anchorage to Kenai.

The Soldotna Municipal Airport hosts fly out fishing, hunting and flightseeing services from locally owned charter businesses like Natron Air.

Soldotna has a variety of charter plane businesses that operate out of their own hangers. Call the Soldotna Visitor Center (907-262-1337) for a list of these or check out our online Directory category, Air Charters. 

Yes, we have a locally owned small business, Midway Auto, that rents cars and passenger vans in Soldotna. We also have a U-Haul store that rents vans and trucks. The Kenai Municipal Airport hosts Avis and Budget car rentals, two national chains.

Yes, we have one shuttle bus service named Alaska Bus Company. They operate seasonally, M-F, June-August. Their route contains the following stops, Homer, Soldotna, Cooper Landing, Girdwood, and Anchorage (Ted Stevens International Airport).

As with any city, traffic can be a bit congested during major holidays and annual events in Soldotna. Make sure to understand what events will be in town before you arrive and plan your drives accordingly, leaving plenty of time to reach your destination. The month of July tends to have the most traffic as you have two local holidays, many festivals/markets taking place, the height of the sockeye salmon run, and  personal use fishing, called dip netting, opens for Alaska Residents on the Kenai River. Our population quadruples in July.

Kenai 10 miles (~ 15 min.)

Sterling 10 miles (~ 15 min.)

Kasilof 12 miles (~ 20 min.)

Ninilchik 40 miles (~ 46 min.)

Homer 75 miles (~ 1.5 hr.)

Cooper Landing 52 miles (~ 45min.)

Seward 93 miles (~ 2 hr.)

Anchorage 150 miles (~ 2hr. 46 min.)

Alaska is not divided into counties but rather into organized and the so-called unorganized borough. Organized boroughs are similar to counties, however, and each of the such units are supervised by a small assembly.

The unorganized borough includes more than 80% of the state’s area but less than 20% of its population. It is administered by the state government; for statistical purposes it is divided into census areas (divisions).

Soldotna is located in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

 

Soldotna, Alaska is officially in the Alaska Time Zone. Alaska does utilize Daylight Saving Time. Alaska changes to Daylight Saving Time on the second Sunday in March and reverts to Eastern Standard Time the first Sunday in November.

All of Alaska uses the 907 area code.

Seat belts are required at all times when riding in or operating a motor vehicle in Alaska. 

Alaska has a text messaging ban for all drivers. Drivers are legally able to talk on the phone while holding it, although if you need to look at the screen for any reason, you will have broken the law. 

Alaska has a law aimed at reducing driver distraction. It is illegal to drive with a visual screen device operating.

If a collision with a big game animal occurs, contact the  local Police Department or
the Alaska State Troopers. Big game animals killed or injured in a vehicular collision are the property of the state.

During the winter months in Alaska, headlights are required for an extended period of time during the day. Headlights are required to be on at all times, day or night, on various roadways in Alaska. Motorcyclists are to use their headlights 24 hours per day year-round. Even when not required, many Alaskan drivers keep their headlights on year-round anyway. 

AS 28.35.140 requires drivers on a two lane roadway outside of an urban area to safely pull over when there are five or more vehicles immediately behind.

 

There is cell phone reception in most towns in Alaska, but it is very common to lose service when traveling between them. There are many spots without cell service or radio when driving between Anchorage and Soldotna.

Visitor Information

Basically, anytime is a good time to visit Soldotna. The determining factor for deciding when to visit is: What are your likes and dislikes? For example, the sockeye salmon run and festivals in July appeal to nearly everyone—evidenced by the crowding at that time. The spring arrival of migratory birds attract many people, too. But consider the relative non-crowding of the wintertime. Winters are mild in Soldotna compared to other Alaskan communities. Mountain vistas are enhanced by the lack of foliage on the trees. Lakes freeze over for a plethora of activities like snow shoeing, cross country skiing, ice-skating, and snow machining.

Soldotna experiences cool to mild summers, and winter temperatures remain relatively warm compared to other Alaskan communities. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 9°F to 64°F and is rarely below -16°F or above 71°F. The summer months of long days and a temperate climate make the are rich for outdoor activities. 

The warm season lasts for 3.8 months, from May 21 to September 15, with an average daily high temperature above 56°F

The cold season lasts for 3.5 months, from November 10 to February 23, with an average daily high temperature below 31°F

The snowy period of the year lasts for 6.8 months, from October 1 to April 26. The snowless period of the year lasts for 5.2 months, from April 26 to October 1. Soldotna averages 86 inches of snow per year. 

September is the rainiest month in Soldotna. Soldotna, Alaska gets 22 inches of rain, on average, per year. 

The key to being comfortable and warm is light layering to protect you from wind and rain. It may seem warm outside, but you never know when a cool breeze might come up, especially when you are on or near the water. The fall and winter traveler will want to layer a little heavier. Sunglasses are a good idea any time of the year. Our sun is bright in the summer and in the winter; there may be quite a glare off the water, snow, or ice.

In keeping with the functional packing, pack comfortable, sturdy shoes. It’s helpful if they’re water resistant. As for those personal items, don’t forget a good camera with extra memory cards, binoculars, and insect repellant just in case. 

What to Wear Ideas:

WINTER: Long-Sleeved Shirt, Jeans/Slacks, Warm Hat & Gloves, Insulated Boots, Long Underwear, Wool Sweater or Fiberfill Vest, Winter Coat
SPRING: Long-Sleeved Shirt, Jeans/Slacks, Walking Shoes, Waterproof Boots, Windbreaker or Jacket
SUMMER: Short Sleeved Shirt, Shorts, Long Sleeved Shirt, Jeans/Slacks, Walking Shoes, Windbreaker or Jacket
FALL: Long-Sleeved Shirt, Jeans/Slacks, Warm Hat & Gloves, Insulated Boots, Waterproof Boots, Windbreaker or Jacket, Wool Sweater or Fiberfill Vest

The bugs generally aren’t as bad as people fear, and they’re really only a big consideration in June and July.

Although some years are not as bad as others, one should always be prepared for the worst when it comes to mosquitoes. Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs. Avoid wearing bright colors, perfumes and scented hair sprays or lotions as these attract mosquitoes. Most stores and tackle shops supply a wide variety of insect repellent (DEET is the most efficient).

Mosquito head nets tend to be overkill unless you plan on doing a lot of hiking at lower elevations or hunting.

Often the best viewing is on slightly overcast days and in the fall (late August and September). It is important to keep a respectable distance when viewing any wildlife; binoculars and a good camera are helpful. It is common to see bear wherever fish and berries are plentiful. For this reason, it is recommended to carry bear spray and to hike in groups. Moose and Caribou may seem very docile, often strolling along the highway or through residential areas; however, they can be fiercely protective of their offspring and may suddenly become quite aggressive towards humans and pets. If you travel with a dog, it is important to keep your dog tethered for their protection and your own. Remember to be considerate and pull off the road when viewing wildlife; sudden and unexpected stops may result in a collision. Keep a sharp eye out and give all wildlife plenty of room.

Make Soldotna your homebase to explore the vast wildlife trail system known as the Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Viewing Trail (trail maps are available at the Soldotna Visitor Center). This trail is a string of scenic overlooks, backcountry drives, nature trails, and other sites where you can look for your favorite Alaska wildlife. Whether you’re visiting Alaska for the first time or a lifelong resident, the KPWV Trail offers the inside scoop on the best places to go. Try it out for photography, birding, or a family outing. No matter what the season, with 65 sites to explore on the Kenai Peninsula, you’re bound to see something interesting! In Soldotna, we recommend beginning your wildlife viewing excursion at the Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, located on Ski Hill Rd. The KNWR Visitor Center has nearly three miles of well-maintained trails and boardwalks that meander through diverse habitats, including a stop at Headquarters Lake. Have binoculars and cameras ready for the chance to see porcupine, muskrat, moose, and a plethora of birds, from small, Boreal Chickadees to the vocal, Great Horned Owl.

A second recommendation, is visiting the Slikok Creek State Recreation Site, located off West Endicott Drive. The entrance to this site is tucked away in a residential neighborhood, but don’t let that deter you from finding this gem! This quiet tributary to the Kenai River is home to two, scenic woodland trails that dead-end at the Kenai River. Look for waterfowl, eagles, moose, and a variety of salmon and trout. After exhausting the in-town wildlife sites, venture in any direction for more opportunities for wildlife encounters.  

Always be “bear aware.” At trailheads, look for posted signs about recent bear activity. Watch ahead for bears or for tracks. Don’t surprise bears. Make plenty of noise when traveling. Hiking in groups is safer than hiking alone. 

Don’t panic if you see a bear and the bear eyes you intently. The animal is just surveying the situation, trying to identify what sort of creature it has encountered, and whether it might be in danger. Once the bear realizes it has happened upon a person, the bear usually moves off to more important things – the daily business of being a bear. 

If the bear notices you and you have time to respond, stand your ground, ready your deterrent, group up, talk to the bear in a calm voice and watch the bear. Do not run.

1) If the bear is stationary, move away slowly while keeping your eyes on the bear.

2) If the bear starts to move toward you or charges, stop and stand your ground.

3) Let the bear know you are not a threat. Behaving calmly, moving slowly, and speaking in a low calm voice will help de-escalate the situation.

4) If the bear continues to approach, use your deterrent when the bear is within range.

5) Cubs and kill sites — Do not stand your ground at an occupied kill site or between a sow and her cubs. Instead, back away and leave the area immediately.

For more information on bears, visit Alaska Department of Fish & Game.

Contrary to most beliefs, Alaska doesn’t close down in winter and the people don’t all move away. Now, some smaller museums and charters operate seasonally, but most of your locally owned businesses in Soldotna are open year round.

If inside is where you want to be on a rainy day, we have some possibilities for you. Visit one of our movie theatres, enjoy a visit to our visitor centers, check out our public library, pop in to a local museum, go swimming in an indoor pool, or you could get outside anyway?

It is usually best to make reservations for lodging or guided excursions; however, it is essential during the peak months of June and July. It is not unusual for businesses to require a deposit to secure reservations. It is very important that you ask a lot of questions before paying anyone. Be very specific about the services that you expect for your payment and get an agreement in writing. For example: you may ask of a guide if  the package include rain gear, fishing gear, fish cleaning, shipping or storage; is there any refund if the weather prohibits fishing; exactly how many hours will you get for your money? If someone offers you an additional amenity, be sure to ask if there will be any additional charge for the service and what their policy is should the river go to catch and release. You may ask a lodging owner if there is a refund policy if they overbook and don’t have your room available or if it does not meet your standards of safety and cleanliness?  A booking agent may be helpful when you are trying to secure lodging or guiding services. 

Alaska is known for going completely dark in the winter. Where this may be true for northern parts of the state, Soldotna keeps about 6 hours of daylight on the shortest day of the year in December. 

In summer, we have 15hr.+ of daylight! 

Fishing information

All residents age 18 or older and nonresidents age 16 or older must purchase and possess a sport fishing license to participate in Alaska sport and personal use fisheries. In addition, a king salmon stamp is required to fish for king salmon. These laws apply in both fresh and marine waters. Sport fish licenses and king salmon stamps may be purchased online, at most sporting goods stores, and at Fish and Game offices.

Alaska residents age 60 or older and Alaska disabled veterans who maintain their residency may participate in sport fisheries without a sport fishing license, but must apply for and possess an ADF&G Identification Card.

Holders of ADF&G Identification Card and resident anglers under 18 years of age and nonresidents under 16 years of age DO NOT need to purchase a king salmon stamp in order to fish for king salmon.

Soldotna Office for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game

43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite B
Soldotna, AK 99669-8276

Commercial Fisheries Report
Phone (907) 262-9611

Commercial Fisheries, Sport Fishing, Hunting, Trapping, and Wildlife-related Information
Phone (907) 262-9368
FAX (907) 262-4709

Sport Fishing Information
Phone (907) 262-2737

Habitat Information
514 Funny River Road
Soldotna, AK 99669-8255
(907) 714-2475 phone
(907) 260-5992 fax

Escapement numbers
Phone (907) 262-9097

RUN-TIMING

Chinook (King) Salmon: The Kenai River supports two distinct king salmon runs. The early run usually enters the river in mid-May. Early-run fishing peaks in mid-June, and is over by the end of June.

Sockeye (Red) Salmon: Although there are two runs of sockeye salmon to the Kenai, early run reds do not present much opportunity for the Kenai River sport angler. It’s a small run and it’s headed straight for the Russian River drainage; therefore, this is called the first Russian River Red Run. Kenai River late-run sockeye salmon enter the lower Kenai in early July, peak in late July, and are generally complete by early to mid-August. Most fish arrive during the last two week of July.

Coho (Silver) Salmon: Although tradition holds that there are two runs of silver salmon to the Kenai, there are actually several periods of in-migration. The earlier fish arrive in late July, with more fish arriving early to mid-August through early October.

Pink (Humpy) Salmon: Because of their two-year lifecycle, pink salmon numbers are the highest in even-numbered years.  They run from late July through mid-August on the Kenai.

Anchor River
Species — King salmon
Timing — June and early July
Access — Heading south, the Anchor River follows the Sterling Highway for several miles beyond Anchor Point. Look for roadside foot trails along the stream.

Crooked Creek
Species — King and coho salmon
Timing — July through September
Access — At milepost 111 on the Sterling Highway at the intersection with Coho Loop Road, park at the Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Viewing Trail pullout to walk to creek viewing platform.

Dave’s Creek
Species — King, sockeye, and coho salmon
Timing — Mid-July through September
Access — At milepost 38, the junction of Seward and Sterling Highways, follow signs to Tern Lake campground.
Comments — At milepost 38, the junction of Seward and Sterling Highways, follow signs to Tern Lake campground.

Ptarmigan Creek
Species — Sockeye and king salmon
Timing — Mid-August through September
Access — Leave your car in the parking lot at Seward Highway milepost 23 and walk along the trail to the creek. You may hike up or downstream from there.

Quartz and Crescent Creeks
Species — King and sockeye salmon
Timing — July through mid-September
Access — From highway pullouts between milepost 41 and 45 of the Sterling Highway, walk to Quartz Creek. Or take the turnoff to Quartz Creek campground at milepost 45 and walk to the creek from the campground.

Resurrection Creek
Species — King, pink, chum and coho salmon
Timing — Mid-July through September
Access — At milepost 56 along the Seward Highway, follow the 19 mile road to Hope to access Lower Resurrection Creek.
Comments — Viewing is best at lower stages of the tide

Russian River Falls area
Species — Sockeye and King salmon
Timing — Mid-June through September
Access — Turnoff to the Russian River campground at Sterling Highway milepost 52.5. Park at the Russian River Falls trailhead a walk or bike about two miles to the falls viewing platform.
Comments — Salmon are present at the falls all season. You may also hike up or down stream from the falls.

The Kenai River supports about 40 unique species of fish. There are resident fish, which spend their entire life cycle in the river; “anadromous” fish, which spend part of their life in the river and part in salt water; and fish which are common to the intertidal area, which is a mixture of both fresh and saltwater. For opening dates, daily limits, motor restrictions, fishing regulations, and special tackle restrictions, consult the Southcentral Alaska Fishing Regulation Booklet.

While many fish make the run up the Kenai River, it takes a certain skill to locate the perfect spot and use the right technique to ensure success. So, whether you are an experienced angler or on your first fishing venture, we recommend the use of a licensed fishing guide who knows and understands the rules and regulations for fishing on the Kenai. There are opportunities for DIY fishing; the most popular occurs in late July during the sockeye salmon run when the local boardwalks will have many anglers displaying the lining technique. lining. Simply put, the fish swim upriver tight to the bottom with their mouths opening and closing. The trick is to find the right type of water, and to present the lure where the leader is at mouth level. 

The most efficient and cost-effective way to bring fillets home with you is to bring them with you as luggage on the airplane. The Soldotna Visitor Center will refer you to local, processing businesses in town that will vacuum pack, freeze, and store your fish. At the end of your stay they can pack them in insulated fish boxes, and you’ll pick them up on your way out of town. The fillets should stay frozen for up to 48 hours, giving you time to get the fish home and into your freezer. A more expensive option is to have them mailed overnight to your home.

The Kenai River starts at Kenai Lake, which is located in Cooper Landing. The mouth of the Kenai River where it meats the Cook Inlet is located in the City Limits of Kenai. The Kenai River is 82 miles long, and the Soldotna Visitor Center is located at River Mile 21. At our location, we are considered to be on the lower river. 

It is always better to book a full-day trip when salmon fishing. Half-day trips are usually better for trout and not salmon fishing. Salmon fishing can turn on and off during the day. A full-day trip will allow you a better chance at your limit of fish.

This is a ballpark estimate, only, based on an individual: A full day of salmon fishing is $270 per person. A half day of fishing is $185.

The Kenai and Kasilof Rivers (located approximately 14 miles south of Soldotna) yield the highest number of salmon on the Kenai Peninsula. They are also the most road accessible. However, Soldotna also has many stocked lakes like Arc Lake, Sport Lake, Longemere Lake, to which all have public access. To learn more about stocked lakes, visit the Alaska Department of Fish & Game website.

The short answer is not really. The best halibut season time is mid-May to mid-September during the high slack tide as it will keep your tackle as close to the bottom as possible. Halibut fishing trips are typically chartered by an experienced guide who takes you to either Ninilchik or Homer. Typically, many of our Kenai River Guides also guide in the saltwater. Homer ia known as the “Halibut Capital of the World” for a reason, but Seward is not far behind. 

Soldotna & Alaska facts

Soldotna was named for a nearby stream; it is a Russian word meaning “soldier.” However, the most accepted notion today is that the name originated from the Dena’ina word ts’eldat’nu, meaning “trickling down creek” or possibly “stream fork.”

As of 2021, the population of Soldotna is 4,783.

The first European visitors to Kenai were Russians, who built fish camps and canneries along the coast.

Russian settlers established the Holy Assumption of Saint Mary Russian Orthodox Church in 1791. The current building, in Old Town Kena, was constructed in 1894. Inside the chapel are many other cultural relics of Kenai’s Russian roots.

The native tribe of the Kenai is the Dena’ina. Of all the North Athabaskan tribes indigenous to Alaska, the Dena’ina were the only ones who lived near saltwater and fished for marine species, allowing them to have a sedentary lifestyle.

Yes!

The log cabin, which served as the first post office for the town of Soldotna was listed on the National Register of Historic Places since September 17, 2008. 

In 1947, Howard and Maxine Lee read about homesteading opportunities in Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska in The Saturday Evening Post that granted land to those willing to improve and inhabit it. Howard Lee was in the United States Navy and stationed in Florida, but headed north in March 1948. Maxine and their daughter, Karen, remained in Seattle, while Howard continued on to the Anchorage Land Office. Howard found that all the land along the Sterling Highway had been claimed, but learned of a couple who had moved the year before and would sell their land and a 60-foot by 30-foot Quonset hut to the Lees for $1,000. Maxine and Karen Lee joined Howard in June 1949.

The Soldotna Historical Society maintains and operates the post office during the summer months, as well as, the Soldotna Homestead Museum.

In 1985, Soldotna resident, Les Anderson, sport caught a world-record King Salmon (on a line with a spin-n-glo and salmon eggs). He hooked it in the Kenai River and it weighed in at 97 lbs. 4 oz. His incredible catch is on display at the Soldotna Visitor Center.

The turquoise Kenai Lake is fed by runoff from active glaciers in the Harding Ice Field that are pushing through rocky valleys. The glaciers function like bulldozers, grinding away and pulverizing rocks along valley floors and walls. The process produces a fine-grained powder of silt and clay—glacial flour—that is picked up by the Kenai River. Since the particles are so fine, they are slow to sink to the bottom, remaining suspended in the water column instead.

When sunlight hits the water, these particles absorb the shortest wavelengths: the purples and indigos. Meanwhile, the water absorbs the longer wavelength reds, oranges, and yellows. That leaves mainly blues and greens to get scattered back to our eyes.

State Flower: Forget-Me-Not

State Gem: Jade

State Capitol: Juneau

State Bird: Willow Ptarmigan

State Insect: Dragonfly

State Population: 733,391 (2020)

Square Miles: 570,640

State Sport: Dog Mushing

State Motto: North to the Future

State Nickname: “The Last Frontier” – the name Alaska is derived from the Aleut word “Aleyska,” meaning “great land.”

The Alaska State Flag was designed by 13-year-old Benny Benson while he was a resident at the Jesse Lee Home orphanage in Seward. The blue field is for the sky and the state flower, the Forget-Me-Not. The North Star is for the future of the state of Alaska, the most northerly of the union. The dipper is for the Great Bear – symbolizing strength.

“Alaska’s Flag” was adopted as the official state song of Alaska in 1955 (words by Marie Drake, music by Elinor Dusenbury).

“Eight stars of gold on a field of blue, Alaska’s Flag, may it mean to you; The blue of the sea, the evening sky, the mountain lakes and the flowers nearby; The gold of the early sourdoughs dream, the precious gold of the hills and streams; The brilliant stars in the northern sky, the “Bear”, the “Dipper”, and shining high, The great North star with its steady light, o’er land and sea a beacon bright, Alaska’s Flag to Alaskans dear, the simple flag of a last frontier.”

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