Located south of Alaska's Kenai River City of Soldotna on the Sterling Highway is the wickedly underrated community of Kasilof, population 550. The massive widespread beaches, captivating lakes, prolific rivers, and awe-inspring vistas are loved fiercely by Last Frontier locals. But many visitors often overlook this tiny drive-by town in route directly to Homer, Alaska's halibut fishing capital of the world.

Tustumena Lake, Johnson Lake, Crooked Creek Recreational Area, Kasilof River, and the Kasilof Beach are some of the most popular attractions in the area. Fishing, ATV'ing, dipnetting, wildlife viewing, kayaking, camping, and even stand up paddleboaring are excellent outdoor recreational activities that'll keep you busy for hours on end in this charming Kenai Peninsula town. While the (incredible) two-minute YouTube video above will make you fall instantly in love with Kasilof, nothing will beat the magic that happens when you visit. 

Flickr - Luke JonesFlickr - Luke Jones

Kasilof River

Approximately 20 prolific river miles make up this spectacular body of water that drains from Tustumena Lake and empties into Cook Inlet. Fishing for kings, silvers, and sockeyes never gets old on the Kasilof River. There are also excellent wildlife viewing opportunities for bears, moose, and bald eagles. This is one of the most popular rivers on The Kenai as it attracts both locals and visitors from all around the world each summer season. 

Courtney Stanley 

Johnson Lake

This nice, heavily wooded lot is one of the best places for families to enjoy outdoor fun in Kasilof. The beautiful lake attracts fishermen (no motors allowed), kayakers, canoers, paddleboarders, and even those looking to take a dip in the chilly water on a hot Alaska summer day. Rainbow trout fishing here is loads of fun, and this lake is a great place for kids and beginners to ease into reeling in slippery fish. 322 acres surround the lake, and many enjoy hiking in the secluded surrounding areas. There are 48 campsites, 16 day-use spots, and plenty of places  for people to enjoy picnics in the sunshine. 

Courtney Stanley 

Kasilof Beach

If you've never been to Kasilof Beach, prepare to find your new happy place. A large widespread beach overlooks dramatic mountain ranges as far as the eyes can see. Go dipnetting for salmon, surf-casting for halibut, ride atv's, camp near the confluence of the Kasilof River, go beachcombing, or take the dogs out to stretch their legs while enjoying the sandy/rocky shores. The beautiful estuary makes for the most spectacular birding opportunities. You'll have premier opportunities to view bald eagles, while moose and bear have been known to make appearances on occasion as well. 

Flickr - Bryan Wilkins 

Crooked Creek

Crooked Creek State Recreation Area is at the confluence of Crooked Creek and the Kasilof River, and has lots of day-use parking spots and overnight camping spots as well. This area is most popular during the months of May and June, when the King Salmon fishing picks up on the Kasilof River. A small steelhead run happens in the spring and fall, and dolly varden, sockeye salmon, and silver salmon can be fished for during the summer months. 

Flickr - U.S. Region Fish & Wildlife Service 

Tustumena Lake

Located on the west side of The Kenai in the Kenai National Widlife Refuge is Alaska's eight largest lake and the largest lake on the Kenai Peninsula. In certain areas, the maximum depth of the lake is 950 feet (which is shockingly deeper than Cook Inlet). 73,437 acres make up this incredible outdoor playground, which is a popular place for game hunters, fisherman, wildlife viewers, kayakers, and campers. A few rustic cabins are available to rent overnight throughout the wildlife refuge.