8 Best Sights in Kenai Fjords National Park, The Kenai Peninsula and Southcentral Alaska

Kenai Fjords National Park

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Harding Icefield Trail, Kenai Fjords National Park, The Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, USA, North America
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Seward is the gateway to the 669,984-acre Kenai Fjords National Park. This is spectacular coastal parkland incised with sheer, dark, slate cliffs rising from the sea, ribboned with white waterfalls, and tufted with deep-green spruce. Kenai Fjords presents a rare opportunity for an up-close view of blue tidewater glaciers as well as some remarkable ocean wildlife. If you take a day trip on a tour boat out of Seward, it's highly likely you'll see frolicking sea otters, crowds of Steller sea lions lazing on the rocky shelves along the shore, a porpoise or two, bald eagles, and tens of thousands of seabirds. Humpback whales and orcas are sighted occasionally, and mountain goats wander the seaside cliffs. The park's coastal fjords are a favorite of sea kayakers, who can camp or stay in reserved public-use cabins. One of the park's chief attractions is Exit Glacier, which can be reached only by the one road that passes into Kenai Fjords. Trails inside the park lead to an overlook of the vast Harding Icefield. Named for President Warren G. Harding, this area has more than three-dozen glaciers flowing from it. Backcountry travelers should also be aware that some of the park's coastline has been claimed by local Native organizations and is now private property. Check with park headquarters to avoid trespassing on Native land.

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Exit Glacier

One of the few accessible valley glaciers in the state, Exit is the only destination in the park accessible by car. Named for being a mountaineering expedition's exit from the first recorded successful crossing of the Harding Icefield in 1968, this glacier is the park's most popular destination.

Exit Glacier Nature Center

Open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the center includes a bookstore, exhibits of topographical maps, stories of explorers and adventurers, and geological and glaciological artifacts. The center is ADA compatible and has rangers on staff to answer questions and guide short tours of the immediate area.

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Glacier View Loop

A 1-mile, wheelchair-accessible trail that offers excellent viewing angles of Exit Glacier. Easy.

Harding Icefield

This is the largest ice field located entirely in the United States. It began forming during the Pleistocene Epoch, about 23,000 years ago, and is now comprised of a number of interconnected glaciers. As it's not possible to see through the ice, it's hard to gauge the depth of it, but radio wave studies have indicated that it's at least 1,500 feet deep in a ridge above Exit Glacier. The surface area is relatively easy to study, however, and research shows that over the past 10 years, the ice field's melt has increased, dropping it 10–12 feet in elevation every year.

Kenai Fjords

The Kenai Fjords explode with glaciers, rain forests, and wildlife sights. The marine mammals you'll likely see are the Dall's porpoises, sea lions, otters, seals, dolphins, and whales (orca, humpback, gray, minke, sei, and fin). In the air, on the water, and populating the many islands and outcroppings along the way are almost 200 species of birds that call this region home, including falcons, eagles, and puffins.

Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center

Located in Seward's small-boat harbor, the main visitor center is open daily from June to mid-September. The small center has a few things for sale, issues marine tour tickets, and offers free viewings of a short 2-minute film narrated from the perspective of a wilderness kayaker, a marine ecologist, and a Sugpiaq family whose ancestors hailed from the region. Park rangers are on staff to answer questions about the area.

Resurrection Bay

Serving as the port for the city of Seward, this 18-mile long fjord is the epic destination for kayakers from all over the world, as well as the entry point to Kenai Fjords National Park. Framed by snow-tip peaks, this scenic body of water is an exciting place for viewing birds and marine life in the summer months.