Kenai Fjords National Park Travel Information & Guide

Kenai Fjords National Park Travel Information & Guide
Kenai Fjords National Park, located on Alaska's southern coast, 130 miles south of Anchorage, is an exhilarating combination of glaciers, wildlife and, of course, fjords. Established as a national park in 1980, Kenai Fjords is one of Alaska's most accessible parks. The closet town to Kenai Fjords is Seward, approximately 14 miles to the southeast. In Seward, you will find several hotels and motels that will serve as good home bases for your adventures in the park.
 

Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier, an ice flow that branches off the massive Harding Ice Field, is the most accessible region of Kenai Fjords. To reach the Exit Glacier, drive 3.7 miles on Alaska Highway 9 and then turn off onto Exit Glacier Road for 9 miles. At the ranger station you will find access to the three main Exit Glacier trails. The Main Trail is partially paved and offers immediate views of the Exit Glacier. As you hike the Main Trail, look for the half-mile nature trail offshoot to get good views of cottonwood, moraines, alder and willow.

Exit Glacier's most ambitious, but arguably rewarding, trail is the 3.5 mile, one-way Harding Icefield Trail. The trail is not for the feint of heart as it rises more than 3,000 feet in elevation. Once you complete the hike, you will be treated with access to the Harding Icefield. Check with a ranger before you begin your hike as weather conditions could force certain areas of the trail to close. Wildlife lovers will enjoy the chance to see a mountain goat or black bear during the hike. Remember not to approach the wildlife and take necessary precautions to protect yourself. More information about Exit Glacier can be obtained from the Kenai National Park's headquarters.

Kenai Fjords Park Headquarters
P.O. Box 1727
Seward, AK 99664
(907) 224-3175
npa.gov/kefj

 
 

The Fjords

To access the many fjords that give Kenai Fjords its name, you will need to take a boat. Most boat tours will take you through the Resurrection Bay, around the rocky Aialik Peninsula, and into the Aialik Bay Fjord. Here, you will get up-close views of the Holgate and Aialik Glacier. More ambitious fjord explorations will take you down to the Granite Passage into the Northwestern Lagoon, the long and narrow McCarty Fjord, or to the park's southern extreme at West and North Arm. Near the arms at Palisade Peak, you will see a 900-foot waterfall and many black bears, moose and river otters.

Many companies offer guided boat tours of the fjords but only Major Marine Tours and Renown Tours will provide you with park ranger guides. If you plan to travel during the peak season (July and August) make sure to book boat tours far in advance.

Major Marine Tours
#2 Boardwalk, Seward Small Boat Harbor
PO Box 1571
1302-B 4th Ave.
Seward, AK 99664
(907) 224-8030
majormarine.com

Renown Tours
1302-D 4th Ave.
P.O. Box 310
Seward, AK 99664
(888) 514-8687
renowntours.com

Lodging

The only formal, in-park lodging is four cabins within the park's fjords. Cabins are only available from May to September and only accessible by boat or sea plane. Contact the park headquarters for booking information. A campground is located at Exit Glacier with 12 camp sites. Camping is free, but on a first-come, first-served basis. July and August are the campgrounds' busiest months, so arrive early. Also note that the campground has a 14-day camping limit. The campground has pit toilets and pumped drinking water. Cooking, food storage and pets are all prohibited. Additional camping is permissible in various locations throughout the park including Quicksand Coves, Pendersen Lagoon and Bear Cove. Availability and access depends on the season. Contact the park's headquarters for more specific information.

If you require other accommodations, Seward has several hotels and motels. Lodging ranges in price from the high-end Hotel Seward to the more affordable Murphy's Motel. Additional Seward lodging includes the Van Gilder Hotel, the Breeze Inn and the Marina Motel.

Kenai Fjords National Park Headquarters
P.O. Box 1727
Sewerd, AK 99664
(907) 224-3175
npa.gov/kefj

Hotel Seward
221 5th Ave.
Seward, AK 99664
(907) 224-2378
hotelsewardalaska.com

Murphy's Motel
911 4th Ave.
P.O. Box 736
Seward, AK 99664
(907) 224-8090
murphysmotel.com

Van Gilder Hotel
308 Adams St.
P.O. Box 609
Seward, AK 99664
(907) 224-8090
vangilderhotel.com

Breeze Inn
1306 Seward Hwy.
P.O. Box 2147
Seward, AK 99664
(907) 224-5237
breezeinn.com

Marina Motel
1603 Seward Highway
Seward, AK 99664
(907) 224-5518
sewardmotel.com

 

Article Written By Alexander Grouch

Alexander Grouch is a freelance screenwriter, journalist and children's book author. He currently writes music reviews for "The Red Alert." Grouch has visited all 48 contiguous states and plans to document his journeys in a travelogue. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Africana studies from Brown University.

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