Park preservation: Soldotna protects much riverside land for public

Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Editor's note: This is the third part of a series on Soldotna and Kenai city parks and what they offer to residents and visitors.

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Photos By M. Scott Moon
Photos By M. Scott Moon
Roger Thornton looks up from the book he was reading to enjoy a view of the Kenai River from Soldotna's Centennial Park last weekend. "I come down here to watch the boats, the river, the eagles; I've been coming here for 26 years," he said.

With the world famous Kenai River coursing through much of Soldotna, it is little wonder a great deal of city-owned acreage along the pristine waterway is preserved as city park land.

Largest by far among Soldotna city parks is Centennial with 240 campsites, elevated riverside walkways, fishing platforms and boat launch ramps. The park is not just for camping. Picnic sites are available and the park features 13 sets of river-access stairways to get fishermen safely to the river's edge.

The city charges $16 a night for camping, and the day-use fee is $6 for folks who only stay in the park up to 12 hours.

Ice and firewood are for sale at the park's entrance booth and potable water is available throughout the park.

Campers with disabilities will find several campsites set aside for their use as well as 95 feet of dedicated fish walk.

Right in the heart of town is Soldotna Creek Park, five acres of wide open, landscaped terrain, often the site of large city-sponsored events and family gatherings.

Overlooking the Kenai River, the park features 1,700 feet of elevated boardwalk and 13 sets of river-access stairs for anglers.

The park also has several wooded picnic sites, a small picnic pavilion that can be reserved for special gatherings and a playground area for the youngsters. Plans are under way for a major redesign of the park and for a mega playground to be added in the near future.

For those seeking a more passive experience, a number of riverside benches are set along the river just for daydreaming or watching the area's plentiful moose stroll along the riverbanks.

A little more off the beaten path is Aspen Park tucked behind the Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts store mall at the corner of the Kenai Spur Highway and Marydale Avenue. The park, actually on Aspen Drive, was built with children in mind. Playground equipment for climbing, sliding and swinging is in the middle of the park, surrounded by a ring of park benches ideal for those who just want to keep an eye on their young charges. The park also offers picnic tables for refueling the active younger set.

Once the center of many Soldotna civic events, Parker Park has retreated to a quiet neighborhood spot to take a stroll or walk the dog on maintained trails and pathways. Situated on West Park Avenue near the Soldotna Senior Citizens Center, the park offers well-groomed lawn areas for picnicking as well.

Another small community park tucked back into the neighborhood is Riverview Park. With its slide, swing set and climbing bars, the park offers a good place for youngsters to get some exercise, and being separated from traffic by a circle of birch trees and bushes, it's a good place to just sit and read a book.

To get to Riverview Park, people should turn onto Kobuk Street from the Sterling Highway, then left onto Riverview Drive and into the park.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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