Home Rule City
in the Kenai Peninsula Borough
- Area Type
- Current Population
- Population Comment
- 2013 DCCED Certified Estimate
- Pronunciation/Other Names
- (kee' nigh); includes Kenaitze (key night' zuh)
- Community's Judicial District
- Recording District
- Census Designated Place (CDP)
- Borough/Census Area FIPS Code
- Place FIPS
Geography and Climate
- Kenai is located on the western coast of the Kenai Peninsula, fronting Cook Inlet. It lies on the western boundary of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, on the Kenai Spur Highway. It is approximately 65 air miles and 155 highway miles southwest of Anchorage via the Sterling Highway.
- Winter temperatures range from 4 to 22 °F; summer temperatures vary from 46 to 65 °F. Average annual precipitation is 20 inches.
- Community Map Available
- Sq Mi Land
- Sq Mi Water
History and Culture
- Prior to Russian settlement, Kenai was a Dena'ina Athabascan Indian village. Russian fur traders first arrived in 1741. At that time, about 1,000 Dena'ina lived in the village of Shk'ituk't, near the river. The traders called the people "Kenaitze" or "Kenai people." In 1791, a fortified Russian trading post, Fort St. Nicholas, was constructed for fur and fish trading. It was the second permanent Russian settlement in Alaska. In 1849, the Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church was established by Egumen Nicholai. In 1869, the U.S. Military established a post for the Dena'ina Indians in the area, called Fort Kenay, which was abandoned in 1870 after Alaska was purchased by the U.S. A post office was established in 1899. Through the 1920s, commercial fishing was the primary activity. In 1940, homesteading enabled the area to develop. The first dirt road from Anchorage was constructed in 1951. In 1957, oil was discovered at Swanson River, 20 miles northeast of Kenai - the first major Alaska oil strike. The city was incorporated in 1960. In 1965, offshore oil discoveries in Cook Inlet fueled a period of rapid growth. Kenai has been a growing center for oil exploration, production, and services since that time.
- The Kenai River is a major sport fishing location for Anchorage residents and tourists. The river is world-renowned for trophy king and silver salmon. The Kenaitze (Tanaina Athabascans) live borough-wide and utilize the rich resources of Cook Inlet.
- Federally Recognized Tribe
- Name of Federally Recognized Tribe
- Kenaitze Indian Tribe
Facilities, Utilities, and Health Care
- Municipal Facilities & Utilities
- Piped Water, Piped Sewar, Airport, Harbor/Dock, Police, Fire/EMS, Roads, Library, Kenai Senior Center, Parks & Recreation, Cemetary and Memorial Park
- Kenai has access to the Sterling Highway. The City-owned Kenai Municipal Airport provides a grooved asphalt runway, gravel strip, and a water runway at the float plane basin. A flight service station is available. Float plane facilities are also available at Island Lake and Arness Lake. There are five additional privately-owned airstrips in the vicinity. The Kenai City Dock and boat ramp are located near the mouth of the Kenai River. There are also a number of private commercial fish processing docks. Moorage is by buoys anchored in the Kenai River.
- State Ferry
- Cargo Barge
- Road Connection
- Community's Senate District
- Community's House District