Southwest Kenai Locations:

Anchor River State Recreation Area

caption follows
Belted kingfisher.

Notable Species

  • Chinook salmon
  • Coho salmon
  • Steelhead
  • Mink
  • River otter
  • Common merganser
  • Red-breasted merganser
  • Bald eagle
  • Northern harrier
  • Sandhill crane
  • Spotted sandpiper
  • Black-bellied plover
  • Pacific golden-plover
  • Greater yellowlegs
  • Lesser yellowlegs
  • Least sandpiper
  • Belted kingfisher

Watch for beavers, river otters and muskrats early or late in the day along quiet stretches of the Anchor River. In spring, migrating shorebirds and waterfowl flock to this area, with many species remaining to nest. Look for mergansers and their broods in the river, and for Pacific golden-plovers, black-bellied plovers and greater and lesser yellowlegs along the river and ocean shores. Bald eagles perch in the cottonwoods overlooking the marsh, and northern harriers glide over the marsh grass searching for prey. Forest birds such as warblers and sparrows search for food along forest edges. Nearly 9,000 Chinook salmon return to the river between May and July, followed by almost 20,000 coho salmon in August. Steelhead trickle in during the fall.


The Anchor River passes through a mixed spruce-cottonwood forest with a lush riparian zone, then emerges into a broad estuary and marsh filled with salt-tolerant sedges and grasses.

Historical Connection

English explorer Captain James Cook spent the summer of 1778 sailing Alaska’s coastline in search of a Northwest Passage. The name Anchor Point commemorates the loss of one of his anchors at a point further north.

Viewing Tip

During fishing season, when the beach and river mouth can get crowded, check out other pullouts and recreation sites along the road.

Helpful Hints

Bring rubber boots for exploring the beach and river shallows. Avoid trampling sensitive wetland vegetation.

Getting There

Sterling Highway milepost 156.9. Turn west following signs to the Anchor River State Recreation Area. Several campgrounds along the 1.6-mile road provide river or beach access. The road ends at the beach.