As a beautiful meeting point of mountains, ocean and ice, Kenai Fjords National Park offers one of the best locations for refreshing and relaxing getaways. This 1,047 sq. mile national park in Seward, Alaska is located 126 miles south of Anchorage, and is partly accessible by vehicles. Only the Exit Glacier Area in the park is accessible by road. The most interesting feature of Kenai Fjords National Park is the Harding Icefield, a site where about 40 glaciers flow from.
Plenty of recreational opportunities are available at Kenai Fjords National Park for visitors and campers to enjoy. These make the visit to the park memorable. You could hike on any of the short trails on the valley floor or the 8.2-mile Harding Icefield Trail, kayak on the park’s waters, or fish for Dolly Varden and salmon. Within various habitats in the park, there are numerous birds to look out for. Additionally, with the right gear and experience, you can go mountaineering on the Harding Icefield. As snow falls in winter, the park is perfect for amazing recreational pursuits like snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and boat/dog sled tours.
No RV campsites and facilities are available in Kenai Fjords National Park. Only one campground with 12 walk-in campsites is available.
Kenai Fjords National Park was established in 1980.
Despite being located just to the west of Seward, a town accessible year-round by vehicles, only the Exit Glacier Area in Kenai Fjords National Park is accessible by road. During winter, the park is often inaccessible as the road that leads to Exit Glacier is closed due to the snow. The highway that leads to the park is the Seward Highway.
There is limited parking at the Exit Glacier area in Kenai Fjords National Park.
Public bus services are available from Seward to Exit Glacier, and back. Rail services also connect Anchorage and Seward.
Exit Glacier Campground in Kenai Fjords National Park features 12 walk-in campsites that are available for tents only. Vehicles and RVs are not allowed in the campground. Some of the campsites are, however, wheelchair-accessible. Some of the amenities and facilities in the campground include vault toilets, food storage, dining/cooking shelter, pit toilets and drinking water.
All the campsites are available on first-come, first-served basis. Maximum stay is 14 days and pets are not allowed.
Kenai Fjords National Park features maintained trails in the Exit Glacier Area. These include short trails on the valley floor that begin at the Exit Glacier Nature Center and pass though the cottonwood forest to points where you will enjoy scenic views of Exit Glacier. Hiking to the toe of the glacier means you’ll cross the rocky outwash plain which may be inaccessible a times, due to floods.
Longer hiking opportunities in Kenai Fjords National Park are available along the Harding Icefield Trail, an 8.2-mile trail that takes hikers through cottonwood and alder forests, heather filled meadows and above tree line to a breathtaking view of the Icefield.
Kayaking is a historically-significant activity at Kenai Fjords National Park. For this reason, visitors and campers love to paddle the park’s waters and join the long list of human-powered travelers along the Kenai Peninsula coast. As you paddle the waters, you get to experience the tidewater glacier and the frigid waters, while enjoying the view of birds and marine animals that call the park’s waters home. Experienced and inexperienced paddlers are welcome at the park, as long as the novice paddlers travel with a guide.
There are wonderful freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities in the surrounding areas of Kenai Fjords National Park. You can fish for Dolly Varden and salmon in the backcountry areas of the park. Rockfish, halibut and lingcod are other species that anglers in the park often look out for and catch. Opportunities to fish are also available all the way to Seward and its surrounding shores. Note that state fishing licenses are required to fish in and around Kenai Fjords National Park.
Excellent mountaineering possibilities are available on the Harding Icefield in Kenai Fjords National Park. If you wish to enjoy the activity in the park, then you should be very familiar with traveling on glaciers, crevasse rescue techniques, and be able to ski well. If you have snowshoes, you can also enjoy mountaineering on the icefield. Note that buried crevasses are prevalent on the icefield, so you’ll be required to exercise caution. Mountaineering can take a few days to up to two weeks so be adequately prepared.
Featuring more than 190 bird species, Kenai Fjords National Park is home to lots of beautiful birds that thrive within diverse habitats in the park. As a result, the park is a great place to see and learn about the birds within the coastal Alaska region. Some of the common birds in the park include bald eagles, black-billed magpie, peregrine falcon, Steller’s jay, and murres. As you hike the park’s trails or paddle on the waterways, watch out for them.
Although the road that leads to the park is closed during winter because of the snow, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy winter recreation at Kenai Fjords National Park. For starters, one of the best times to find moose at Exit Glacier is in winter. Be sure to keep your distance. Other recreational pursuits available to visitors at the park in winter include snowmobiling, snowshoe walks, boat tours, and dog sled tours. There’s no shortage of fun at the park in winter.