Equipped with stunning scenery, incredible wildlife, and aquatic adventures, Kenai Fjords National Park is a glacial wonderland of Alaska.
In this article, we’ll cover the best things to do in Kenai Fjords National Park, the best hotels near the park, its entry fees, etc. along with other pertinent details to help first-timers plan a memorable trip. Let’s get started!
|Park||Kenai Fjords National Park|
|Things to do||Kayaking and Paddle boarding and many more|
|Hotels near Kenai Fjords National Park||Hotel Seward, Spruce Lodge and many more|
|Entry Fee||Free Entry|
|Camping Locations||Multiple Location|
Where Is Kenai Fjords National Park?
Kenai Fjords National Park is located on the Kenai Peninsula in south-central Alaska, near Seward, which is 126 miles to the south of Anchorage.
You can reach Kenai Fjords National Park by Alaska railroad, or you can take the Seward Highway anytime year around. You can also take water taxis, tour boats, air taxis, etc., to reach the park.
About Kenai Fjords National Park
This Park is one of the smallest and most incredible destinations in Alaska and is more than just a rich glacial landscape and wildlife encounters and offers numerous variety of activities and outdoor adventures.
The park’s rugged landscape is characterized by lush forests, massive icefields, and abundant marine wildlife.
Countless tidewater glaciers pour down, carving valleys that fill with seawater for beautiful fjords. Nearly 51% of the Park is covered in ice.
Still, there’s plenty of leisurely activities and aquatic adventures for visitors, including boating, kayaking, camping, biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, mountaineering, ranger programs, and much more.
The Park attracts thousands of people every year who come to enjoy its stunning landscape and see tidewater glaciers and marine wildlife up-close.
Kenai Fjords National Park – Alaska (TRAVEL GUIDE)
History Of Kenai Fjords National Park
According to archeological evidence, Kenai Fjords has been home to Alaska Natives for thousands of years, and their stories still abound in the region.
The earliest proposals to create a national park at Kenai fjords were raised in the 1970s, but it faced some hurdles in native land claims.
In 1972, four areas of the Kenai Peninsula were set aside under the ANCSA for federally protected areas.
In 1973, the Nixon administration proposed the creation of the Harding Icefield Kenai National Monument as a part of ANILCA legislation, and the Kenai Fjords National monument was established in 1978.
The Park officially became a national park in 1980 to preserve the fjords and rainforest ecosystems, Harding Icefield, wildlife, and archeological and historical remains.
Today, the Park is home to a massive variety of terrestrial and marine animals, including moose, seals, sea otters, killer whales, and black bears.
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Things To Do In The Park
This Park offers an incredible variety of things to do in the Park and along the Kenai Peninsula:
See The Harding Icefield Trail
The magnificent Harding Field is considered the crown jewel of the this Park.
This massive 700-square-mile icefield is a remnant of the Pleistocene Ice masses and has countless tidewater glaciers pouring down from it, carving icebergs and fjords.
More than 40 glaciers of various types also flow from the Harding Icefield, some of which end up in lagoons, some ending on land, while some being tidewater.
You can either hike to the icefield or take an aircraft or boat tour to enjoy some of the most breathtaking views in the Park.
Visit Exit Glacier
Exit Glacier is the main Glacier in the Park accessible by road. Various hiking trails will take you to the Exit Glacier where you can see the Glacier up close in the valley it carved out for itself.
Hike to Exit Glacier is quite strenuous and time-consuming, but the view of the icefield is gratifying.
If you visit in summer, you can drive straight up to the base of the Glacier, where the views are just mind-blowing.
Join A Ranger-led Program
This Park offers plenty of ranger-led programs offered in the summer season.
You can take a 1.5-hour walk with a ranger to the Glacier Overlook, or just listen to an informative talk at the pavilion near the Nature Center that talks about the history and diverse wildlife of the Park.
During summer, Major Marine Tour company leads special boat tours allowing visitors to see the marine wildlife up-close.
Cruise Tour Of Fjords
A Cruise tour is one of the best ways to experience the breathtaking beauty of the giant glaciers of the Park, and for a good reason.
When the cruise enters the ocean, the views you get to see are just phenomenal and can’t be described in words.
You can spend time in front of towering tidewater glaciers and watch calving where huge chunks of glaciers break off and fall into the water.
You might get a chance to spot wildlife, including whales, sea lions, bald eagles, and others.
Go Kayaking & Paddleboarding
Kayaking or paddleboarding in this Park can once in a lifetime experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your days.
It’s a great way to experience the overwhelming power of glaciers while you dip a hand in the freezing waters.
Please keep your eyes peeled for birds and marine mammals who call these frigid and food-rich waters home.
You can take a guided group kayaking trip with experienced guides and get a closer look at the glaciers, whales, and other marine animals.
Best Time To Visit
This Park is open all year round, but the best time to visit the Park is summer from June through August because winter snow often leaves roads impassable.
Also, during summer, all the main attractions of the Park are open for visitors, and the weather is mild and pleasant for hiking and other water adventures.
Flightseeing trips can be arranged any time of the year, depending on the weather.
Map Of Kenai Fjords National Park
You can get the Park’s official map from the visitor center or the administrative office.
But we’d recommend downloading a PDF Map of the Park before planning your trip and getting yourself familiar with all the entry and exit points, trail, and points of interest.
The downloadable version of the map is available on the NPS website.
The only campground in the Park is at the Exit Glacier and has 12 only-tent camping sites.
Backcountry camping is allowed in the park except within 1/8 mile of a road or trail at Exit Glacier. All campsites are available on a first-come-first-served basis.
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Weather Of Kenai Fjords National Park
The Park has a more temperate maritime climate than other parks in Alaska and is hard to predict.
Winters are freezing, while summer has changeable weather with average daily temperature fluctuating between the 40s to 70s with frequent rain.
Be aware of the weather conditions here and check the current weather before planning a visit.
Hotels near Kenai Fjords National Park
The Park has no lodging options inside the Park, but you can find a variety of accommodations near the Park, ranging from lodges to luxury hotels.
Here are our top favorite places to stay:
- Johnstone Adventure Lodge
- Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge
- Spruce Lodge
- Hotel Seward
- Harbor 360 Hotel Seward
- Land’s End Resort
Entry Fees Of Kenai Fjords National Park
The Park has no entry fee, and visitors can enter and explore the Park completely free.
Checklist for Things to Pack
Listed below are the few necessary items you must bring with you while visiting the the Park:
- Warm layers
- Warm pants
- Insulating Jacket
- Hat and mittens
- Warm hiking boots
- Wool socks
- Lip balm
- Rain Jacket
- Nuts & Protein bars
- First-aid kit
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How much time do I need to In Kenai Fjords National Park?
Ideally, you should spend at least two days in Kenai Fjords National Park to have enough time to see the town of Seward, Exit Glacier, and take a half-day cruise of the Fjords.
How is the cell phone service in Kenai Fjords National Park?
It varies depending on your location and service provider.
Some parts of the Harding Icefield trail have cell phone coverage, while there’s no cell phone coverage at Exit Glacier.
Can I drive through the Kenai Fjords National Park?
Yes, it’s possible to drive through the Park, but you can access only one side of the Exit Glacier.
To reach the other side, you must take a ski or snowmobile instead.
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After completing her graduation in hospitality, Shefali decided to follow her passion and started writing. Shefali has been writing for two years now and contributes to our website as a skilled editor and content writer with strong research skills. Writing product and service reviews, biographies, and book reviews are some of her key areas, among many others in which she specializes.