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The Kenai River flows into Cook Inlet at the community of Kenai on the east shore of Cook Inlet, about 65 miles (105 km) southwest of Anchorage, Alaska. Grigor Konovalov, the Russian commander of the ship Saint George, built a fortified post here in 1791 called "Redut Svataya Nikolaya," or "Fort St. Nicholas". In 1869, a U.S. Military Post was established here named "Fort Kenai" for the Kenaitze Indians living in the area.
The Kenai River is the most popular sport fishing destination in Alaska, particularly for King or Chinook salmon. The King salmon fishery is not as prolific as in other Alaskan rivers, but the Kenai is known for its large fish. A typical King weighs 40–85 pounds (18–23 kg), with considerably larger specimens not uncommon, although in recent years the fishery has been closed or heavily restricted due to low returns.
The river drains the central Kenai Peninsula and runs 82 miles (132 km) from Kenai Lake near the village of Cooper Landing, through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and Skilak Lake to Cook Inlet. Kenai Lake is fed by several glacial meltwater streams that give the lake and river an intense blue color. The upper river is about about 17 miles (27 km) long and runs through Kenai Canyon with fast-flowing whitewater rapids between Kenai Lake and Skilak Lake. The Russian River, famous for the run of Red or Sockeye salmon, empties into the Kenai River several miles west of Cooper Landing. Skilak Lake is 15 miles long (24 km) and the "Middle River" is the reach of 29 miles (47 km) between Skilak Lake and the Sterling Highway bridge near the town of Soldotna. The final 21 miles (34 km) from the bridge to the mouth at Cook Inlet is known as the "Lower River", with the last 12 miles (19 km) being influenced by the tides. Read more here and here. Click here to download the CoastView app and explore more of the Kenai River and Cook Inlet.