Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park

Quick Facts

Kenai Fjords National Park

Alaska

(907) 422-0500

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Formed by glaciers, earthquakes and ocean storms, Kenai Fjords National Park stretches across 607,805 acres of unspoiled wilderness on the southeast coast of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. Here, you can experience the largest icefield within U.S. borders, diverse marine and wildlife, such as orcas, otters, puffins, bear, moose and mountain goats, take a hike or boat tour, all to explore this unspoiled remnant of the ice age.

Map of Kenai Fjords

Latitude, Longitude: 60.110724, -149.544525

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Activities

  • Boating

    Boat tours depart Seward's small boat harbor daily in the summer months. It's a good idea to make reservations in advance. Several companies provide a variety of tour options, schedules and amenities. Full-day tours that venture out to the park's tidewater glaciers are available as well as half-day tours that stay in the more protected waters of Resurrection Bay while giving you a taste of the park's wildlife and scenery. Park Rangers provide narration on all Major Marine Tours and present programs daily at Kenai Fjords Tours' day lodge located on Fox Island.

    Smaller charter boats are also available. During the shoulder seasons and winter months, some companies offer tours traveling the shorter routes in Resurrection Bay.

  • Camping

    During the winter, a warming hut with firewood and benches is available for day use. The Willow Public Use Cabin can be rented by the night, providing visitors with a once in a lifetime winter backcountry experience.

    Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, Alaska's newest eco lodge, opened in 2009 on Native-owned land in Aialik Bay. It is the only lodge on the Kenai Fjords coast and is accessible by boat during the summer months. Two rustic public use cabins, Aialik and Holgate, are available on the Kenai Fjords Coast during the summer months (from late May through mid-September).

  • Climbing

    The Harding Icefield offers excellent mountaineering possibilities. Parties wishing to explore the icefield should be well versed in glacier travel and crevasse rescue techniques and should be experienced skiers. However, people can also travel on the icefield with snowshoes. Travelers should rope together whenever moving on the icefield as buried crevasses can be encountered anywhere.

    April is generally the best time of year for crossing the icefield. The days are getting longer and warmer but there is still plenty of snow to ski and pull sleds on the approach and descent. The easiest access points are Exit Glacier on the east side and Tustemena or Chernof glaciers on the west.

  • Fishing

    Within the park's backcountry you can fish coastal streams for salmon and Dolly Varden. The Fjords and Resurrection Bay are hotspots for salmon, halibut, rockfish and lingcod. State Fishing Licenses are required. Fishing charters are available year-round.

  • Hiking

    The only maintained trails in Kenai Fjords National Park are those in the Exit Glacier area. These include several short trails on the valley floor and the Harding Icefield Trail.

    Most of the backcountry is trail-less wilderness. Off-trail hiking is not recommended. The terrain is steep and rugged, and often requires scrambling through dense vegetation.

  • Picnicking

    Help keep wildlife wild! Be careful not to leave wrappers, crumbs or other food trash after picnicking.

  • Water Sports

    Kayaking is possible in the park. Traveling with a guide is strongly recommended for inexperienced paddlers. These are not waters for beginners! Landings often involve surf, particularly when afternoon breezes kick up from the south. Wind and rainfall can be excessive, and summer storms often push an ocean swell of three feet or more into the fjords.

    Most kayakers access the park by water taxi or charter boat from Seward and get dropped off in Aialik Bay or Northwestern Lagoon. Another alternative is to fly in to the less-visited Nuka Bay area from Homer. Paddling directly from Seward is okay for day trips in Resurrection Bay or overnight visits to Caines Head or Bear Glacier, but rounding Aialik Cape in a kayak is not recommended. There are long stretches of exposed coastline with no landing sites between Callisto Head and Aialik Cape, and the waters around the Cape can be extremely treacherous.

  • Wildlife Watching

    When hiking, look for mountain goats, marmots, bears, moose and bald eagles. The coastal areas offer views of seals, sea lions, sea otters and migrating whales. More than 50,000 seabirds, including murres, puffins and squealing black-legged kittiwakes occupy coastal cliffs in summer.

  • Winter Sports

    Once the Exit Glacier Road is snow-covered and closed to cars, it is accessible by cross-country skis, snowmobile or dog sled. Winter recreation generally starts in early November and the snow can last into May.

    Snowmobiles are allowed in the park once there is at least 18 inches of snow with a solid base. The Harding Icefield has adequate snow cover year round, but the rest of the park is generally open to snowmobile use from November through April. The use of snowmobiles is prohibited within the Exit Glacier Developed Area, except on the Exit Glacier Road, in the parking areas, and on a designated route through the Exit Glacier Campground to Exit Creek.

    Technical ice climbing is permitted on the glacier's terminus from November through March. The rest of the year, climbers must be at least ½ mile above the terminus. Ice climbing opportunities are very limited due to unstable ice conditions.

Seasonality/Weather

Kenai Fjords National Park is open year-round; however, the Exit Glacier road is closed to cars for the winter months and much of the spring. The Park's coastal backcountry is also inaccessible late fall through early spring due to rough seas.

Park Partners

Alaska Geographic

As the park's official nonprofit education partner and bookstore, Alaska Geographic offers an extensive collection of titles on Kenai Fjord's natural and cultural heritage, provides financial support for the park's interpretive programs and other educational offerings, and works to connect visitors with Alaska's magnificent wildlands.

Alaska Geographic operates bookstores at the Kenai Fjords Information Center in Seward and at the Exit Glacier Nature Center. Your purchase at these locations directly benefits Kenai Fjords--a portion of every sale supports the park's educational and interpretive programs.

(907) 274-8440

Directions

Driving

Kenai Fjords National Park is located just outside the town of Seward in South-central Alaska, 126 miles south of Anchorage. Seward is accessible year round via the Seward Highway, a National Scenic Byway with stunning views of Turnagain Arm, Kenai Lake, glaciers, wetlands and rugged mountains.

Flying

Currently there is no regularly scheduled air service between Anchorage and Seward; however, charter flights may be available.

Visit the Seward Chamber of Commerce for a list of operators that offer scenic overflights of the park. Flightseeing is one of the best ways to get a sense of the vastness of the Harding Icefield. Soaring over this expanse of ice broken only by isolated mountain peaks, or nunataks, is like traveling back to the Pleistocene.

Overflights also provide dramatic views of the Park's glaciers, fjords and even wildlife. You may catch a glimpse of a mountain goat traversing a rocky ledge, or peer down at a brown bear fishing in salmon-choked streams.

Public Transportation

Bus service is available year round between Anchorage and Seward. The scenic Alaska Railroad serves Seward in the summer months (May - September). Several cruise ship lines access Seward during the summer months.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(907) 422-0500

Road conditions

(907) 422-0573

Links