Kenai River Special Management Area

Quick Facts

Kenai River Special Management Area


(907) 283-3692

Map Directions

Things To Do



The abundant productivity of the Kenai River and variety of habitats enables the area to support large concentrations of bald eagles and many species of migratory waterfowl. Moose, caribou, wolves, bears and other wildlife also use the river system's resources. The area offers prime opportunities for fishing, boating, camping and wildlife observation.

Map of Kenai River Special Management Area (AK)

Latitude, Longitude: 60.568226, -151.238995



  • Boating

    The Kenai River Special Management Area (SMA) consists of more than 105 linear miles of rivers and lakes, including Kenai Lake, Skilak Lake, and the Kenai River from river mile 82 downstream to four miles above the river's mouth on Cook Inlet.

    Knowledge, skill and vigilance are required to operate a boat safely - especially with crowded boating conditions and natural and man-made hazards. Please learn the US Coast Guard "rules of the road" for your safety and others. Non-motorized boats and boats drifting downstream have the right-of-way. Boats under power headed or pointed upstream must yield to other traffic. Between May 15 and July 31, it is illegal to anchor in a manner that obstructs a primary traffic channel or fishing channel of any section of the Kenai River. Power boats are limited to 6 passengers on board, including the operator.

    Boat operators are legally responsible for their boats' wake and any damage it causes. Please travel mid-river whenever possible. Use appropriate speeds and keep wake to a minimum to reduce bank erosion and silting of spawning beds. Approach other boats and property, such as docks, carefully.

    US Coast Guard approved life jackets should be worn and must at least be readily accessible. State law requires that life jackets be worn at all times by children under the age of 13. Boating accidents usually result in hypothermia or drowning, due to cold water immersion and fast currents. Dress appropriately and help those in need. The Kenai and Skilak Lakes are very cold and subject to sudden high winds which kick up choppy waves. Stay on shore in bad weather.

  • Camping

    Camping is allowed only in developed campsites. All undeveloped lands and islands are closed to camping. There are many areas, including the islands below Skilak Lake, that are closed to bank fishing during sockeye season. Please consult the Fish and Game regulations for a listing of these closures.

  • Fishing

    The Kenai River boasts major runs of four Pacific salmon species - king, red, silver and pink - in addition to trophy-sized rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. Kenai River kings, or Chinook salmon, are among the largest North Pacific salmon, often weighing from 50 to over 85 pounds.

    Different fishing methods are popular in different river reaches - please don't buck the trend. Drift fishing through backtrollers, or backbouncing or backtrolling in the middle of an occupied drift is not only discourteous, it is dangerous. It may cause confusion, tangled or cut lines, hot tempers and accidents.


Open year-round, but subject to some closures.



4.2 Kenai Spur Highway.

Phone Numbers


(907) 283-3692