Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park

Sights to See at Kenai Fjords

Exit Glacier is Kenai Fjords National Park's premier attraction and also one of its most accessible. Literally the remains of a massive glacier that once extended to Resurrection Bay, this slow-moving blanket of ice is truly a sight to behold. It is like the tongue of a massive giant, speckled with debris and splintered with crevices, as it barges through the Alaskan landscape in a slow and methodical path. Exit Glacier is a half-mile wide, a dynamic river of ice whose source is the 700-square-mile Harding Icefield. Slowly, it cascades out of the higher Harding Icefield and down the U-shaped glacial valley, traveling a distance of approximately three miles and descending nearly 2,500 feet. As it moves, the glacier carries rock material plucked from the underlying rock and walls and deposits it at the glacial edge in a pile of debris called a moraine. Rocks embedded in the bottom of the moving ice continually gouge and grind the underlying base rock, leaving distinctive striations and scars on the rock below. As you explore the Exit Glacier area, please stay on the trails and clear of the ice at the foot of the glacier. Glacier ice is unstable, unpredictable and extremely dangerous to be near. There are no fees for the Exit Glacier area.

After you've thoroughly explored the glacier's edge, visitors looking for a challenge should hike the difficult, but breathtakingly beautiful Harding Icefield Trail. This challenging seven-mile round-trip hike parallels Exit Glacier up to the Harding Icefield. The trail is steep—every mile equals a thousand-foot gain in elevation! However, the results make the effort worthwhile. At the end of the trail, you will find outstanding views of the 700-square-mile Harding Icefield, the dominant feature of the park. This immense piece of ice, named after President Warren Harding, is one of only four remaining ice fields in the United States. It seems to stretch into oblivion as it enshrouds entire valleys and mountaintops. The Harding Icefield Trail is accessible from mid-June to early October. For the remainder of the year, the trail is snow covered and requires special equipment and climbing experience.

One of the most memorable moments in Kenai Fjords National Park will undoubtedly occur when you spot some of the park's magnificent wildlife. If you're hiking, look for mountain goats, marmots, bears, moose and bald eagles. Be cautious when encountering moose and bears, however, since these animals can be dangerous.

The coastal area also has abundant marine life, including seals, sea lions, sea otters and migrating whales. One of the most impressive sights to behold is the large number of sea birds that occupy the coastal cliffs during the summer. Thirty species of sea birds—with total numbers exceeding 174,000—occupy discrete nesting habitats. Two of the most popular and abundant are the colorful tufted puffin and the squealing black-legged kittiwakes.