The little roadside community of Cooper Landing, in a wooded mountain valley along Kenai Lake and the Kenai River, begins about 8 miles west of Tern Lake, where the Sterling Highway splits from the Seward Highway, and continues sporadically along the highway for about 7 miles. (The Sterling runs generally west until Soldotna, where it heads south again.) The frothing upper Kenai River is the community's lifeline, each summer bringing the salmon that draw visitors who fill hotels, restaurants, and the date books of fishing guides. The Russian River meets the Kenai at the western edge of the community, where a mad fishing frenzy for the July red salmon season occurs. A ferry takes anglers across the river from the highway.

If you're not an angler, there's not much here -- a couple of operators do rafting trips, and some trails start here. Cooper Landing is the starting or ending point for backpacking trips in the Chugach National Forest.. Look there also for descriptions of several campgrounds for tents or RVs.

Cooper Landing has a post office, service stations, and small stores selling fishing gear and essentials, but it's not a real center of commerce. For banking or anything else not directly related to catching a salmon, you'll have to drive to Sterling, 30 miles away to the west, or Soldotna, 14 miles beyond that.