The Beauty of Kenai Fjords Park, Alaska
Renowned for its signature glaciers and home to a distinct array of wildlife, Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park is truly a sight to behold. The park spans over 600,000 acres, with almost 60% of this area being covered by snow and ice (Travel Alaska, 2020). This rugged landscape is characterized by towering cliffsides, steep valleys, drastic glaciers, foamy seas, and stunning fjords; one look is sure to take your breath away! Kenai Fjords National Park, although Alaska’s smallest national park, has been a beloved national treasure for decades. The park was designated as a national monument by Jimmy Carter in 1978 and officially established as a national park two years later (Barnes, 2018).
Today, it is no surprise the park draws a dedicated crowd of visitors as there is lots to see and do at Kenai Fjords National Park! The park is situated on the edge of the massive Harding Icefield, with its 714 square mile width claiming the title of America’s largest icefield entirely within the country (National Geographic). From Harding Icefield flows almost 40 cascading glaciers, with Exit Glacier and Bear Glacier being some of the park’s main attractions (Mood, 2016). The fjords that have been carved by these numerous tidewater glaciers have produced a unique ecosystem that is only found in five other locations in the entire world (Mood, 2016). Visitors can witness the diverse and abundant wildlife that call these cliff sides and waters home, including over 20 species of seabirds, 27 species of mammals, and 10 species of sea mammals (National Geographic).
The best time to visit the park is during the summer months, mainly June through August. The days are longer, the seas are calmer, and there is more park service available! There are numerous boat tours departing from the popular port destination of Seward, and visitors can take half-day trips within Resurrection Bay or full-day trips to see some of the park’s famed tidewater glaciers (Wulff, 2017). The breathtaking views of the expansive glaciers will be the highlight of these tours, but visitors should also watch out for the harbor seals, otters, and even whales that dip in and out of the cerulean waters. The park also has two official hiking trails, with the Exit Glacier Trail being a short 2.2 mile trip (Hahnel, 2020).
Of course, these once-in-a-lifetime experiences are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak! From kayaking and fishing to flightseeing and mountaineering, there is something for every adventurer at Kenai Fjords National Park. The park is a monument to the stark and unparalleled beauty of the natural world, one that will need extra care, protection, and appreciation in the coming years. View all the Kenai has to offer on our World Affairs Council tour this summer!
Barnes, Susan. 2018. “Kenai Fjords National Park: 10 tips to make the most of your visit.” USA Today, April 11, 2018. https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/experience/america/national-parks/2018/04/11/kenai-fjords-national-park-visiting-tips/504478002/
Hahnel, Renee. 2020. “The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Kenai Fjords National Park.” Renee
Roaming, September 17, 2020. https://www.reneeroaming.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-exploring-kenai-fjords-national-park/.
Mood, Abbie. 2016. “Insider's Guide to Kenai Fjords National Park.” RootsRated, July 1, 2016. https://rootsrated.com/stories/insider-s-guide-to-kenai-fjords-national-park.
National Geographic. “This Coastal National Park Is a Haven for Wildlife—and Adventure.”
National Geographic, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/national-parks/kenai-fjords-national-park/.
Travel Alaska. “Kenai Fjords National Park.” Travel Alaska, https://www.travelalaska.com/Destinations/Parks-and-Public-Lands/Kenai-Fjords-National-Park.aspx.
Wulff, Alexia. 2017. “A Practical Guide To Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.” CultureTrip,