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Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park Detailed Guide

Alaska is a place where the mountain, ice, and ocean meet. Kenai Fjords National Park is a unique place to see in Alaska with its numerous glaciers, icefields, vast forests and wildlife and of course cold. There are lots of other national parks in Alaska but Kenai Fjords National Park should on top of the list of the places visited in Alaska.

Glacier Express Kenai Fjors National Park
You can experience a six-hour-long cruise (Source).

Establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park was founded in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act which also known as ANILCA. We can say that it is a relatively small national park when you compared it to the others. For example, Kenai Fjords National Park is about %88 big as Yosemite National Park but 11th of 13th in all Alaska national parks. It is also on the 5th position in the Alaska national parks for visitor numbers. Kenai Fjords National Park is also the closest one to the Anchorage city. Park’s headquarters is located in the Seward where is the south of Anchorage.

Settlements Around The Park

Park has a long-standing history for its inhabitants. During the establishment of the park, some studies carried out to the light. The archeological surveys show that the early time of the occupation over the area. Researchers believe that the earliest settlement in the parking area located along the shoreline and in time increase in the water levels inundate many of the settlements. Research shows that the settlements date back to the 1920 AD. Until the 1980s there were mining activities and settlements around the area. Also, eleven mining sites were also determined to be suitable for the National Register of Historic Places.

Bear Glacier Kenai Fjords National Park
The longest glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park (Source).

Becoming a National Park

On December 2, 1980, the ANILCA bill signed by the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter that converted the Kenai Fjords to a national park. Improvement in the park focused on the Exit Glacier at first where is a must-see place in the park and will be explained below in detail. In 1982, based on the general management plan Exit Glacier designed as front-country and Fjords as back-Country and the icefield as wilderness. Kenai Fjords National Park has around 482 km2 of native selected lands based on ANILCA.

Exit Glacier Kenai Fjords National Park
Exit Glacier is the most famous symbol of the Kenai Fjords National Park (Source).

The Climate of the Kenai Fjords

As you expect, the weather can be channeling around the park. Based on the Köppen climate classification system Kenai Fjords has a subarctic climate with cool summers and year-long participation. Annual extreme temperature is around -29.1 C. So, it better get ready for the cold. Especially thermal effect clothes and more.

Glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park

It can be said that Kenai Fjords is dominated by massive and impressive glaciers. You can see huge rivers of ice that flow out from the Harding Icefield located. Based on the up-to-date data more than 50 percent of the national park is covered by this massive ice. It is also said that all of the parking areas once covered the ice. Save The World! Stop Global Warming!

As you expect you cant drive all the way through the national park. You can just walk to the park it can too dangerous for you and probably official won’t allow you. But you can take a cruise tour to experience the beauties of the national park.

Exit Glacier Area of the Kenai Fjords National Park

This place can be one of the most stunning place on Earth. You will see a massive ice river which is not moving, at least not as fast as water. Boundry of the Exit Glacier changes during the year based on the global climate but it is retreating for the last couple of decades. The Exit Glacier area is the only glacier that can be accessible by the road. You need to take the Herman Leirer Road to reach Exit Glacier but the road will be closed during the winter season. You should check this website for the alerts. Even if the road is closed, for winter recreational activities such as skiing, biking, walking is permitted.

Exit Glacier Area Kenai Fjords National Park
Exit Glacier is a stunning place to see for every human being (Source).

Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center is located at the small boat harbor of the Seward Town. It is highly recommended to go to the center before taking a cruise tour or going to the park to get more information. Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center offers various information about the national park, an auditorium for showing a film about it, bookstore and staff to answer your questions about the national park. There is also Exit Glacier Nature Center is located at the trailhead for the Exit Glacier and Hardin Icefield trail. Exit Glacier Nature Center has exhibits about the Exit Glacier, bookstore and staff to answers your questions. There is also parking space at the Exit Glaciers but it is limited only between 10.30 and 03.30. Please take this into the account while you’re planning your trip. If the hours are not ok for you, think to arrange a taxi or shuttle from Seward Town.

How to Go to The Kenai Fjords National Park?

Can you drive to Kenai Fjords National Park? The answer is yes and it will be a great natural journal for you and others. At first, you should go to the Anchorage, the major city closest to the park. From Anchorage, you need to the Seward town by using the Seward Highway. The trip will take around 2.5 hours and 200 km. This should be your route to the Seward from Anchorage. The National park is located just outside of the Seward town. If you don’t want to use the car to go to the park there are other options of course.

You can also use the Alaska Railroad, owned by the Alaska State to reach the Seward town from Anchorage. train services are available between May and September. You can check the Alaska Railroad website about the prices and other information. Ticket prices for one adult are 332 USD and the trip will take around 4 hours 15 minutes. It is also possible to take a flight to Anchorage. You need to buy domestic flights within the United States.

Alaska Railroad trains
Taking a train will be another experience in which one is a little expensive (source).

Kenai Fjords Cruise Tours

You can take a flight to Anchorage or Seward but they should be domestic flights within the United States. There are multiple sightseeing cruise tours from Seward to the Kenai Fjords National Parks. I wrote down the most popular tours and details about them. All of them depart from the Seward Small Boat Harbor. You can choose one of them and buy your tickets in advance from this website. Don’t forget to compare the tour prices from different websites and get confirmation about your reservation or ticket. You will also find different types of tours for the national park. Mainly tours are focusing on glaciers, mammals, Fox island and other natural wonders. So, you can choose the cheapest one between the same tours. Most of the companies are good and trustworthy.

Kenai Fjords National Park Tour

  • 153 USD
  • 6 hours
  • Between May 2 – September 27
  • Departure times: 08.00, 11.30
  • Glaciers, marine mammals

Northwestern Fjord Tour

  • 179 USD
  • 9 hours
  • Between June 6 – August 30
  • Departure time: 08.30
  • Glaciers, marine mammals

Kenai Fjords National Park Tour with Dinner on Fox Island

  • 179 USD
  • 8.5 hours
  • Between May 23 – August 30
  • Departure time: 10.00
  • Glaciers, marine mammals, Fox Island

Resurrection Bay Tour

  • 105 USD
  • 5 hours
  • Between May 15 – August 7
  • Departure time: 12.00
  • Calm waters, marine mammals, Fox Island

Glacier Dinner Cruise

  • 153 USD
  • 5.5 hours
  • Between June 6 – August 16
  • Departure time: 15.00
  • Glaciers, marine mammals

Gray Whale Watch Tour

  • 80USD
  • 4 hours
  • Between March 12 – May 14
  • Departure time: 12.00
  • Calm waters, marine mammals

Tips for Visiting the Kenai Fjords National Park

  • Check the official website for alerts and warnings.
  • Take thermal clothes, sunglasses, binoculars.
  • Buy your travel and cruise tickets in advance.
  • Visit Exit Glacier.
  • Take a picture of marine mammals.
  • Enjoy a silent night in Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park.
  • Walk to the head of the Harding Icefield.

Please use the comment section to share your thought and questions about the Kenai Fjord National Park.

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