Web posted Wednesday, May 8, 2002

photo: people

A commercial operation that uses tractors to launch and beach boats has proven popular at Anchor Point, whcih is the jump-off point for world-class king salmon trolling.

Anchor Point: Home to a river of kings

Anchor Point proudly bills itself as the most westerly point on the U.S. highway system, but its real attraction is the Anchor River, which offers scenic camping, picnic areas and some of the best fishing in Alaska. Thousands of anglers flock to the river each summer and fall, casting lines for rainbow, Dolly Varden and steelhead trout and for king and silver salmon.

The area offers other opportunities as well. The view from the beach is spectacular: blue-green Cook Inlet stretches as far as the eye can see, and the skyline is dominated by three snow-capped volcanoes, which could be spouting wisps of steam. The beach provides a grand hike or a place to just sit and watch the view.

For a different perspective, take the 14-mile North Fork Loop Road, which begins in the middle of town (turn inland, away from Cook Inlet) and ends up on the Sterling Highway nine miles south. Along the way, you can take a side trip into the village of Nikolaevsk where you'll find a Russian Old Believer church with onion-dome construction and residents wearing traditional Russian garb. On the way back to Anchor Point, just off the Sterling Highway, is Norman Lowell Gallery, which features the renowned artist's own work, mostly of Alaska subjects.

Anchor Point's history began with rumors of gold in the 19th century, but the town wasn't founded until the l940s, when a group of homesteaders put down stakes along the river. After World War II, when homesteading rules eased up for veterans, the population of Anchor Point surged. Today, the town and surrounding area boasts about 2,300 residents.

Commercial fishing, tourism and logging dominate the economy, but construction and agriculture are also active. Anchor Point has several churches, motels, bed-and-breakfast accommodations, restaurants, bars, gift shops, gas stations, a public library and numerous retail stores.

Fourth of July in Anchor Point guarantees a good time for the whole family -- featuring such lively events as the Rubber Duckie Race, a community picnic and the Homesteaders Classic, which features racers running the beach from Homer to Anchor Point. During February's Snow Rondi, an outhouse race affectionately referred to as "The Iditapotty" is among numerous events.

For up-to-date information on where to go, what to do, as well as lodging and bed-and-breakfast establishments in the area, contact the Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce at 235-2600. Drop by the chamber office in the Visitor Information Center, across the street from the Anchor River Inn, or write to P.O. Box 610, Anchor Point, AK 99556. The chamber also has a Web site: www.xyz.net/.~apcoc/, and can be reached by e-mail at apcoc@xyz.net. There are popular campgrounds along the Anchor River and near the beach. Camping may be limited to specified areas and times, so check at the Anchor River Recreation Area office next to Anchor River Road.