Kenai Fjords National Park


Kenai Fjords National Park is a great place near Seward to do many activities.

The main and most popular attraction is the open-year-long Exit Glacier; it’s the only part of the park that’s accessible by road, and you can take several trails and ranger-led walks around the glacier. In the winter the road might be closed for cars due to snow, but the season is also an outlet for other activities on the road: snowmobiles, dogsleds, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat bikes. The Exit Glacier Nature Center is the park’s trailhead, and contains a multitude of services, which includes a water-filling station, a campground a quarter of a mile off from the center, and flushing toilets.

The Harding Icefield at Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the main reasons for its creation, and there is a specific 8-mile trail by which you can get to the edge of the icefield, nicknamed the Harding Icefield Trail. Flightseeing is offered for an overhead view of the icefield, along with being air taxi’d to the location, but other vehicles that are allowed are: snow machines, and dog mushing, and you can even tent ⅛ miles off the site’s trail path. 

If you’re looking to hike, there are several trails you can use that start at the Exit Glacier Nature Center and end in various locations to view Exit Glacier; short, 1-mile trails that you can access are the Glacier View Loop Trail, and the Glacier Overlook Trail to get perfect views of the glacier. However, if you’re looking for a day hike, then the Harding Icefield Trail is your best option. Specifically, the Harding Icefield Trail allows hikers to go up 1,000 feet of elevation with each mile, and even if you don’t make it to the top of the 8-mile round trip, you’ll still be able to see the amazing park from the trail. However, it’s warned that you must check for trail conditions and be prepared, as there could be a sudden change of weather, and even an avalanche while in the winter, the Harding Icefield Trail becomes a route for mountaineering. There are also black bears near the area, so it’s best to be cautious of that.

As mentioned earlier, in the winter the Harding Icefield Trail is a great route for mountaineering, but so are other parts of the icefield. If you’re wishing to mountaineer however, you’ll have to know well about glacier travel; as hidden crevices could be everywhere, it’s always nice to rope other travelers with you. April is generally the best time to mountaineer, and while that’s so, traverses of the icefield have taken from six days to two weeks, so it’s best to be prepared in case one one of those days winds and whiteout pin you down. To remain safe, build a snow wall around your tent incase of storms, and don’t forget to bring a good quality tent, bear-proof food storage, two stoves (one for use, one for emergencies), fuel, repair kits, a shovel, climbing gear, a map and a compass, or GPS system if you have one. That is what Kenai Fjords National Park recommends you bring.

If you’re more interested in learning about the park, along with options for short walks and day hikes, then joining a park ranger is a great way to do so. Programs are offered between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and so are books, backpacks, and an app to enhance your experience. If you’d like to take advantage of these programs next summer, then a ranger program you can join without a reservation starts from the Exit Glacier Nature Center and ends at the Glacier View lookout in a timespan of one and a half hours. But, that’s not the only thing that is at the Exit Glacier Nature Center, as the summer pavilion talks about the park’s animals and stories are twenty minutes long, and like the program mentioned earlier, no reservations are needed. In fact, the next and final program also doesn’t need a reservation: the summer Fjord Junior Ranger Walk for younger visitors gives a better look at the ecosystem, and will follow the coastline near town, and is only an hour and a half long.