The town of Cooper Landing is located along the Sterling Highway that parallels the famous Kenai River. The small town, with a population less than 400, can be found at the west end of Kenai Lake. With the Kenai River rushing by one side and the Kenai Mountains hovering over the other, Cooper Landing is nestled in a beautiful area. It was named for Joseph Cooper, a miner who discovered gold in the area in 1884. Loren Leman, Alaska’s former lieutenant governor, is one of Cooper’s grandsons.
The Cooper Landing museum was opened in 2003 and holds the town’s past and present treasures. Visitors will find the articulated skeleton of a 20-year-old brown bear killed on the highway near Soldotna. Volunteers and students of the Cooper Landing School cleaned and assembled the skeleton during an eight-month period. Other pieces of Cooper Landing history include old newspapers and video tapes of the town’s early residents.
Cooper Landing is a town rich in heritage, culture and hardy Alaskans. Riverside lodges, river rafting tours and fishing guide businesses are a mainstay of roadside stops as homes with steep drives dot the winding highway.
For those looking to see the backcountry of the area, Alex Kime, owner of Alaska Horsemen Trail Adventures, has offered horseback trail rides for more than 10 years.
“Cooper Landing is one of the most beautiful spots I have ever seen. Combine our valley of mountains with the Kenai River, Kenai Lake, sheep on the mountains and you have on of the most serene vacations spots in the state,” he said.
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