I’m beyond ready for another camping trip. Several destinations are calling to me, and many of them have me passing through an area I seldom think of as a destination unto itself. I’m not sure why, except that I’m so often on my way someplace else.
Cooper’s Landing is a small community of close-knit, adventurous fishermen, woodsmen and watermen. And, of course, the businesses that have traditionally supported these mostly seasonal, mostly tourist-driven ventures.
I drive Roada through Cooper’s Landing at least six times every summer and overnight there when time and opportunity allows.
The Kenai River in all its sparkling glory flows right through the middle of town, and the community itself has a relaxed, slow pace. The strictly adhered to 35 mph speed limit throughout the entire winding, narrow, guard-rail lined two-lane roadway helps remind tourists to slow down and safely enjoy the view.
There are plenty of pull-outs on the side of the road created just for that purpose.
The fast-flowing glacial-green water sparkles with jewels of changing milky opal and aqua shades glinting with sparks of diamonds and the surface froths white where it surges over a river bed of rocks and boulders.
There are also a couple of spendy RV Parks, but only one campground, Cooper River North, that actually boasts campsites right along the river.
Only once has a combination of luck and good timing snared me one of those coveted river’s-edge camp spots.
The glistening blue-green river flowed right by our campsite. Fishermen with their gear also walked right through, which they technically shouldn’t have, but the way the campground was set up, the riverfront campsites were really the only easy-access points for those camping on the other side of the camp loop. Besides, allowing them to walk through gained us a pair of nice, very fresh salmon filets! Yum!
Cooper River South is on the other side of the highway from the Kenai River, and is one of my favorite overnight campgrounds. Quiet and well, forested, sites are nicely spaced and the camp host is attentive and helpful. A few of the sites on this campground loop actually back onto the smaller but still lovely Cooper River – something I think most campers there don’t even realize.
Another campground just a couple miles further down the Sterling Hwy, the Russian River Campground, would seem from its name to have riverside (or at least river-view) sites, but I’m thinking you must need some secret code to access them. I sure didn’t have one.
I tried twice. Once, I ended up paying to spend the night at the Russian River Ferry Landing, which was a paved parking lot. Probably a wrong turn on my part. You do have a view of the Russian River and can fish from shore, which is a big draw for fishermen … but camping on asphalt is not my idea of camping. Still, I DID see a bear!
When I finally tried the actual Russian River Campground, the site they assigned me (I wasn’t given a choice) was beautiful and woodsy, but SO high up the mountain, I couldn’t even hear the river, much less see it.
My site was also remarkably isolated, with no other campers in sight, in spite of it being late July and the height of tourist and fishing season. I guess everyone else had found campsites down closer to the river?
I found myself walking Rhonda close to the RV and carrying my Hike & Strike walking stick more to give me courage than because I needed it for walking. There’s bears in them there woods! Who was I going to call for help?
Although perhaps the perfect campsite/campground for tourists looking to find the true “Alaskan Experience”, it gave me the willies.
I quickly decided I was happier being closer to Cooper’s Landing, with the friendly camp host nearby and Two Brothers Roadhouse within walking distance from my camp.