Hotel at a Glance: Orca Lodge
Birch and spruce trees shade a wooden footbridge that follows the Kenai River alongside Orca Lodge, where anglers come to reel in hefty hauls of king salmon every year. The rustic log cabins are a stone’s throw from the river; you can wade in and find a quiet spot to rest your pole or take a chartered fishing trip with guides who share their know-how. After dark, the sky fills with stars and campfires keep you dry and warm.
- Private log cabins feature full kitchens and tucked-away loft areas.
- Go fish!: Borrow gear from the lodge and cast out for king and sockeye salmon in the Kenai River.
- Cook your catch on the outdoor barbecue grills. The staff will even share their beloved recipe for barbecue salmon.
- Roast marshmallows and share stories around a blazing campfire in the evening.
Soldotna, Alaska: Angler’s Paradise on the Kenai Peninsula
A massive 97-pound king salmon hangs on the wall of the Soldotna Visitor Information Center. It’s the world’s largest sport-caught king salmon and an ode to the town’s reputation as the most fish-crazy place in Alaska during the summer. Each year, between the months of May and October, all five species of Alaskan salmon swim through the chilly Kenai River, which flows right through town. There are many local charters on hand that can help you find the best fishing spots, but you can also head to one of the town’s free, public fish walks and cast off directly from the riverbanks.
Soldotna backs up to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, which is considered to be a microcosm of the Alaskan wilderness. It spans nearly 2 million acres and dozens of habitats ranging from high-altitude ice fields to low-lying rivers, and it’s home to hundreds of native species including moose, brown and black bears, and trumpeter swans. There are plenty of year-round activities here, too: hiking, canoeing, and camping are popular pastimes in the summer; come winter, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling take over.