The Majesty of Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park is a dazzling glacial paradise. Jagged, tree-topped cliffs rise out of turquoise waters. Waterfalls rush over massive boulders. Approximately 40 glaciers cascade from the vast Harding Icefield, the jewel of the Kenai Fjords with 700 incredible square miles of ice. If that doesn’t impress you, perhaps this detail will: the ice is almost a mile thick.
A spellbinding blend of ice, mountains and coastal beauty, Kenai Fjords is a must. Exit Glacier is one of Kenai Fjords’ most-visited attractions, as it is rapidly receding into the mountains and one of the only walk-in Alaska glaciers.
How to See Kenai Fjords National Park
Located near Seward and about three hours from Anchorage, Kenai Fjords National Park is one of easier Alaska National Parks to reach. The Seward Highway provides access to the park and trails around Exit Glacier, but a significant portion of the park is the water. An Alaska cruise to Seward or a Kenai Fjords boat tour are the best ways to explore this marine wonderland.
Other options including sea kayaking or hikes to Exit Glacier.
Kenai Fjords Glaciers and Tours
The peaks and valleys of Kenai Fjords National Park showcase a long history of glaciation that goes back thousands of years. Alaska glaciers shape landscapes in significant ways, even as they peel back. If you visit the park on your tour, you can learn more about Kenai Fjords’ glaciers at the Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center in Seward or the Exit Glacier Nature Center.
Part of the magic of Alaska is that creaking glacial ice that may break off and plunge into the water at any time. Many Kenai boat tours include a trip to Aialik Glacier on the itinerary. If you witness calving, a very Alaska phenomenon, you’ll remember it forever. The biggest in the bay, Aialik Glacier calves frequently in May and June.
About 15 minutes from Seward, Exit Glacier and its scenic surrounds are the only part of the park that you can access by road. Sandwiched between peaks, Exit Glacier has a bright-blue surface rippling with crevasses. Ice climbing and hiking tours are options for the brave. Here are some of the trails:
- Glacier View: easy 1-mile jaunt with a great view of the glacier
- Exit Glacier Overlook: heavily trafficked 2.2-mile trail through a cottonwood forest
- Harding Icefield: strenuous 8.2-mile adventure steadily up to an amazing icefield panorama
Listen to the sound of meltwater rushing beneath the frozen surface.
Kenai Fjords Wildlife
The Kenai Peninsula is filled with wildlife. You can find otters darting around, chubby seals chilling out on ice floes with their pups, and sea lions lazing on rocky shores. While the marine wildlife is in abundance, don’t forget to look to the skies for the birds. Thousands of puffins horned and tufted nest on the cliffsides in Kenai Fjords National Park. Known for their big beaks and fringed brows, you can see puffins on Kenai Fjords boat tours. Watch out for murrelets, red-faced cormorants and auklets who also make these glacial waters home.