In our own Backyard

Story last updated at 3:38 PM on Wednesday, July 20, 2011

halibut campground one of anchor point's treasures


By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

Editor's Note: This is the second in a multi-week series of ways to enjoy Homer and the southern Kenai Peninsula.


Photographer: McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

Fireside reading adds to the camping experience for Sandy Mazen of Homer.

When it comes to nights away from home, give me a hotel with a shower and a comfortable bed. Add room service and a pool and I'm good to go.

Camping? Rather not. I've spent enough time with sleeping bags, outhouses and water-hauling to last a lifetime.

Then I saw Halibut Campground at the end of Anchor Point Road, one of five campgrounds in the Anchor River State Recreation Area. It was, for me, a case of love at first sight. Not only is it near Cook Inlet's shoreline, the campsites are designed with privacy in mind and it's small — only 20 spaces.

All five Anchor River campgrounds are managed for the state by Alaska Recreational Management. Cody Sheffield handles the maintenance; his wife, Gail, handles supplies, fees and bank deposits. Arvilla Haywood, who divides her time between Alaska and California, is the camp host, assisted by her husband, Frank.

One recent Friday, my husband, Sandy, and I decided to give Halibut Campground a try.

Sandy claimed our campsite early in the day, before the weekend crowd arrived. The spot was nearly surrounded by spruce trees. Just enough so, in spite of seeing and hearing other campers, there was a sense of separation; few enough so we could see the inlet and hear the waves. It offered a picnic table and a fire area that included a grate and fireside bench. The warmth and smell of the campfire Sandy had going in short order made for a picture-perfect setting.

Halibut Campground is near Anchor Point Enterprises' operation for tractor-launching boats on Cook Inlet and retrieving them at day's end. The activity was fun to watch. I imagined what adventures the fishermen had had, what halibut and salmon they had caught. Scavenging seagulls and bald eagles also were drawn to the action. Their chattering and shuffling for position on the beach and in treetops around the campground caught the attention of camera-toting campers, myself included, eager to record the sight.

New campground arrivals continued throughout the evening. Sandy's idea to find a spot early in the day had been a good one.

The evening offered time to walk along the beach and around the campground, enjoy a fireside dinner and relax with good books as the day slipped away. Finally, reluctantly, we let the fire die. After storing our food in the car for the night, a safeguard against birds and four-legged critters, we crawled into the welcoming warmth of our sleeping bags.

An incoming tide satisfied my longing to sleep near the waves. It was reminiscent of summers at my family's Ninilchik fish camp where I fell asleep and awoke to the rhythm of the surf. Sandy was asleep within minutes. I followed soon after, visions of a campfire-cooked breakfast dancing in my head.

The soft patter of rain on the tent roused me from sleep at some point during the night. It was loud enough I enjoyed the sound; not loud enough to chase away images of eggs and bacon frying over a campfire.

When Sandy awoke around 8 a.m., the soft patter had become a bit louder and he realized our breakfast plans were being washed away. I didn't argue. Within minutes, we'd returned the campsite to the condition it was in when we'd arrived — give or take some moisture — and headed for home.

A few days later I caught myself thinking of our next trip to Halibut Campground. I'd need more batteries for the camera. Maybe a less exposed set-up for cooking and some meal options.

Next time? I had to laugh. Obviously, one night enjoying the picturesque setting of Halibut Campground wasn't enough. Even for this give-me-a-hotel gal.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at

Halibut Campground


At Anchor Point, take the Old Sterling Highway across Anchor River to Anchor Point Road, follow the road to its end at the beach. The campground is on the left.


Campground is open from May to September, the exact dates depending on weather.


One of five campgrounds in the Anchor River State Recreation Area.

Includes 20 individual campsites with campfire areas, picnic tables, nearby restrooms, firewood for $5 per bundle, a Dumpster, beach access and a nearby tractor launch for boats going on Cook Inlet

cost per night:


Gear desirable:

Good walking shoes; raincoat, hat, jacket (if rainy or cold); binoculars; camera; water and snacks.

>campground host:

Arvilla Haywood

More Information:

Contact the Alaska Division of Parks and Recreation, 235-7024, (907) 262-5581 or visit