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Soldotna is River City U.S.A

Kenai River keeps city ticking

Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2002

If Soldotna is the heart of the peninsula, the Kenai River is the lifeblood that keeps that heart beating.

From tackle shops to restaurants, from fish walks to nature hikes, the city's economy and recreation are tied together by the waters of the mighty river. If fact, the Kenai River is by far and away the city's biggest draw.

"Just about everybody who walks through our doors asks about the river," said Soldotna Visitor's Center Coordinator Shannon Hamrick.

Hamrick said the importance of the river to the city's vitality simply cannot be overstated. She said that in June, when much of the river was restricted for fishing, the tourism outlook was "bleak." However, now that July has come and fishing is once again king on the Kenai, visitors are again flocking to town.

"We're on pace to equal our July numbers from last year. We've just been slammed in July," she said.

Anyone who crosses the Sterling Highway bridge on the south side of town this time of year can attest to the fact that more people are pouring into town. Hamrick said there's little doubt why they're there.

"I think most of the people who come here are here for the fishing, and specifically, the Kenai River," she said.

However, the spectacular fishing isn't the only thing the Kenai River adds to the city. Houses, restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts and parks all utilize the spectacular backdrop the river provides. On any summer day, visitors and locals alike flock to the city's Centennial and Swiftwater campgrounds in order to fish or just sit on the banks and have a picnic. In fact, Hamrick said many people who come to town never wet a line.

"They're all out on the boardwalk, checking things out," she said.

The Soldotna Visitor's Center is an excellent place to both watch the river rush past, or do a little fishing. A boardwalk lines the emerald waters, giving visitors a fish-eye view of the bridge, tree-lined shore and maybe even a salmon or two.

It is impossible to gauge the importance of the Kenai River to the city of Soldotna. Much as many peninsula residents depend on Soldotna as a hub for transportation and commerce, the city itself relies heavily on the river to maintain its vitality, spirit and industry. Soldotna is truly the "River City."

CAPTION:Clarion file photo

An angler tries his luck on the Kenai River below the bridge in Soldotna.

BYLINE1:By MATT TUNSETH

BYLINE2:Peninsula Clartion

If Soldotna is the heart of the peninsula, the Kenai River is the lifeblood that keeps that heart beating.

From tackle shops to restaurants, from fish walks to nature hikes, the city's economy and recreation are tied together by the waters of the mighty river. If fact, the Kenai River is by far and away the city's biggest draw.

"Just about everybody who walks through our doors asks about the river," said Soldotna Visitor's Center Coordinator Shannon Hamrick.

Hamrick said the importance of the river to the city's vitality simply cannot be overstated. She said that in June, when much of the river was restricted for fishing, the tourism outlook was "bleak." However, now that July has come and fishing is once again king on the Kenai, visitors are again flocking to town.

"We're on pace to equal our July numbers from last year. We've just been slammed in July," she said.

Anyone who crosses the Sterling Highway bridge on the south side of town this time of year can attest to the fact that more people are pouring into town. Hamrick said there's little doubt why they're there.

"I think most of the people who come here are here for the fishing, and specifically, the Kenai River," she said.

However, the spectacular fishing isn't the only thing the Kenai River adds to the city. Houses, restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts and parks all utilize the spectacular backdrop the river provides. On any summer day, visitors and locals alike flock to the city's Centennial and Swiftwater campgrounds in order to fish or just sit on the banks and have a picnic. In fact, Hamrick said many people who come to town never wet a line.

"They're all out on the boardwalk, checking things out," she said.

The Soldotna Visitor's Center is an excellent place to both watch the river rush past, or do a little fishing. A boardwalk lines the emerald waters, giving visitors a fish-eye view of the bridge, tree-lined shore and maybe even a salmon or two.

It is impossible to gauge the importance of the Kenai River to the city of Soldotna. Much as many peninsula residents depend on Soldotna as a hub for transportation and commerce, the city itself relies heavily on the river to maintain its vitality, spirit and industry. Soldotna is truly the "River City."



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