Peninsula's small towns offer rustic charms

Posted: Saturday, May 26, 2001

For a glimpse of old-time Alaska, check out the colorful little towns on the Kenai Peninsula.

Hope -- The peninsula's northernmost community began as a Gold Rush boom town. Today the 140 residents retain small mining and logging operations. Visitors can visit the picturesque old town, check out its museum, pan for gold, mountain bike and hike the Resurrection Pass Trail.

Moose Pass -- This picturesque hamlet of about 200 on the road to Seward offers vistas of the Trail Lakes and a station on the Alaska Railroad.

Cooper Landing -- Tur-quoise Kenai Lake and the striking Kenai Mountains draw visitors and keep about 370 residents year-round. The town is home to the Kenai Princess Lodge and river rafting outfits. Surrounded by Chugach National Forest, it is near trail heads and the popular Russian River fishery.

Sterling -- Sterling is home to about 5,000 people and the gateway to the Swanson River canoe area in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The confluence of the Kenai and Moose rivers attracts fishing, camping and boating.

Nikiski -- Also known as North Kenai or Nikishka, it's home to about 5,000 people and the area's petrochemical industry. Recreation facilities include the North Peninsula Recreation Area and Captain Cook State Recreation Area.

Ninilchik -- The old Russian village is a favorite with photographers and anglers, who flock to the Ninilchik River and Deep Creek for salmon and offshore charters for halibut. The library or the chamber of commerce provide visitor information about this town of 780.

Anchor Point -- The westernmost point on the U.S. highway system, this town of 1,800 prides itself on the Anchor River's fly-fishing, steelhead trout and salmon runs. Events include fishing derbies for all ages, Fourth of July festivities and the winter Snow Rondi festival. The Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce has a summer visitors' center by the school.

Nikolaevsk -- This colony of Russian Old Believers has about 350 residents tucked in the backcountry west of Anchor Point. The community's church has striking exterior icons. Shops sell handicrafts such as embroidery and Russian souvenirs.

Halibut Cove -- The ferry Danny J takes visitors from Homer to the cove, which has lodges, art galleries and even a gourmet restaurant. The 40 residents live in a splendid setting on the doorstep of Kachemak Bay State Park.

Seldovia -- This south Kachemak village of 400 is one of the peninsula's most historic. The former fishing port reinvented itself as a tourist destination. It hosts a Fourth of July bash and features an old boardwalk, pocket parks and Alaska Tribal Cache. Seldovia offers access to Jakalof Bay, scenic Red Mountain or the Alutiiq villages of Port Graham and Nanwalek.

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