Northeast Kenai Locations:

Quartz Creek and Crescent Creek Campgrounds

caption follows
Overlooking Kenai's lake system.

Notable Species

  • Sockeye salmon
  • Wood frog
  • Spruce grouse
  • Great horned owl
  • Boreal owl
  • Hairy woodpecker
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Black-capped chickadee
Bring rubber boots for the marshy landscape. ©Helen O'Harra

Quartz Creek empties into the glacial Kenai Lake, producer of almost 20 percent of the sockeye salmon in this watershed. An average of 10,000 sockeye spawn in Quartz Creek gravels, and as many as 70,000 have returned in some years. Thousands of adults hold in the mouth of the creek at the lake before moving upstream. Viewing decks just outside the campground offer a good place to watch for salmon and Dolly Varden. The best place to observe spawning is along the creek at the Crescent Creek campground.

The mixed forest along the lake draws black-capped and boreal chickadees, and hairy and downy woodpeckers. Black bears frequent the area, but are rarely seen. Watch along the creek edges early and late for browsing moose. Listen for owl calls in the evening hours.


Riparian zones follow these clear-running creeks, extending to shallows where Quartz Creek flows into Kenai Lake. A mixed forest of white spruce and paper birch, fringed by marsh, bounds the creek close to the lake. A mature spruce forest surrounds the creek upstream at Crescent Creek Campground.

Historical Connection

The Quartz Creek area is part of the Cooper Landing community, settled by gold miners in the late 19th century.


Viewing Tip

Take polarized glasses to see fish in the creek. Spend time along the boardwalk at Quartz Creek campground or the trails at Crescent Creek campground to listen for bird songs and watch for Alaska’s most widespread amphibian species, the wood frog.

Helpful Hints

Bring rubber boots or waders to access or cross the creek.

Getting There

Sterling Highway milepost 44.9—turn south on Quartz Creek Road near the Sunrise Inn. The campground is on the right next to Kenai Lake. The road crosses the creek .8 miles ahead and reaches Crescent Creek Campground at milepost 3.3.