Are you thinking about visiting the Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska? 

If so, you are going to love it. Kenai Fjords National Park is 1 of 8 national parks in Alaska. It is one of the most visited national parks in Alaska. Kenai Fjords is located near the ocean.  51% of Kenai Fjords is covered in ice.  

When we planned our trip we thought a boat tour was the only way to see Kenai Fjords National Park. But we learned there is more you can explore and even some hikes to enjoy. Kenai Fjords is absolutely beautiful! 

Let’s explore Kenai Fjords National Park.

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Visit Kenai Fjords National Park Alaska

Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska

Kenai Fjords National Park is massive.  However, there are only a few ways to see it.  Booking a boat tour is the most common way.  This will allow you to view some of the glaciers as well as wildlife in the ocean and some of the land animals that call Kenai Fjords home.  

Another option to see the park is to visit Exit Glacier.  As you enter Seward there is a road that leads to Exit Glacier.( Mile Marker 3.7 on the Seward HWY)  It is about 8.6 miles.  This area of the park has some great hiking options.  

You can also take a helicopter tour and land on a glacier, a scenic flight, or kayak at Kenai Fjords National Park.

When is the Best Time to Visit Kenai Fjords National Park?

Summer is the best time to visit! Actually, unless you are a mountaineer, it is not recommended to attempt  some of the hikes near Exit Glacier in winter.  Exit Glacier gets over 200 inches of snow during the winter! 

The road that leads to Exit Glacier is closed during the winter. Commercial boat tours only run Mid-March – through late September. 

Can I Drive to Kenai Fjords National Park Alaska?

Yes, you can drive to the Exit Glacier Visitor Center.  There is a parking lot at the start of the Exit Glacier trail head. 

How Many Days Do You Need at Kenai Fjords National Park?

I would say 1-2 days.  We were able to do a half day boat tour and hike the Exit Glacier area in a day.  It helps that we had the midnight sun on our side.  We loved visiting in the summer. 

If you wanted to go on a full day boat tour and then have another day to hike, two days would be good.  

 

Admission and Park Hours

Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center

 

Admission

Kenai Fjords National Park does not have an entry fee. 

Kenai Fjords is open year round, however the visitor centers are only open May 29- September 6th.  

Hours 

Seward Visitor Center

9:00 am  – 7:00 pm

Exit Glacier Visitor Center

9:30 am – 6:30 pm

Junior Ranger Program at Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park Junior Ranger Program

We love participating in the Junior Ranger Program at every national park we visit.  Kenai Fjords provided a different experience. 

You will meet with the park rangers at the Seward docks.  There is a visitor center located on the south end of the docks.  The park rangers are stationed there. They have books for the younger children and journals for those over 13.  You will want to grab these before you get on your tour boat. 

While you are observing Kenai Fjords National Park, on your boat tour,  you will fill out your book.  Once the tour ends the park ranger will be waiting for you as you exit the boat.  You can submit your book and get a national park badge or pin.  

Boat Tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park Alaska

Boat Tour To Kenai Fjords National Park

I highly recommend booking a boat tour. These tours are based out of Seward, AK. Let’s explore some of the tour options available. 

What Type of Boat Tours are There?

There area few options available. 

 A half day cruise is perfect if you have younger children.  On your boat tour, you will explore Resurrection Bay. The tour is typically three and half hours long.  

A full day cruise is another option.  These are between 6-8 hours.  Some of these tours include a stop at Fox Island

Will I See Glaciers on the Boat Tour?

Bear Glacier off of Resurrection Bay in Alaska

Yes. In a half day cruise you will get to see Bear Glacier.  It is amazing!  The tour boat provides at great way to view the glacier.  

If you are on a full day tour you will also get to view the Holgate Glacier and the Aialik Glacier. 

What Type of Animals will you See on a Tour?

Wildlife at Kenai Fjords National Park

  • Humpback Whales
  • Otters
  • Puffins
  • Porpoises
  • Mountain Goats
  • Sea Lions 

What Should I Wear on a Kenai Boat Tour?

Kenai Fjords Boat Tour Alaska

Dress warm on the boat tour.  You do have the option to sit indoors. However, you will want to go outside and view all the animals.  It can be extremely windy and cold.  When you get closer to the Bear Glacier, it is very cold.  

Hiking at Kenai Fjords National Park Alaska

Hiking at Kenai Fjords National Park

There are two major hikes at Kenai Fjords: Trails to the Exit Glacier and Harding Icefield Trail.

Both trails are in bear country so be sure to bring your bear spray.  You will also need to be aware of moose in the area. 

Hike with a Park Ranger

At the Exit Glacier trail head there are ranger led hikes daily at 10:00 am, 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm in the summer.

Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier at Kenai Fjords National Park

Miles: 1 – 1.6 (depending on how far you want to go)

Difficulty: Easy – Moderate

How to Get There?

You will begin at the parking lot at the Exit Glacier Lot.  The trail begins just beyond the visitor center.

What is the Trail Like?

Exit Glacier Trail

There is a network of trails that offer different viewpoints of the Glacier.  I recommend checking out each view along the way.  The first trail is called the Glacier View Loop.  It is about 1 mile round trip.

You can continue another .6 miles to Exit Glacier Overlook.   The trail is relatively flat until you get closer to the glacier.  There will be an elevation gain allowing for the best view.

Our Experience

things to do at Kenai Fjords National Park

We loved hiking this trail.  It was beautiful! We took our little kids and they did great!  I highly recommend taking the time and hiking. We took the time to view Exit Glacier from each view point along the way.  

Harding Icefield Trail

Harding Ice Field at Kenai Fjords National Park

Image Courtesy of nps.gov

Miles: 8.2 round trip

Difficulty: Extremely Difficult 

How to Get There

The Harding Icefield Tail begins about .6 miles for the Exit Glacier area.  

What is the Trail like? 

It is steep — 3,000 feet of elevation gain — but with great views!  At the base of the trail, there is a place for you to sign in to indicate you have gone up, and to again sign when you return.

At the top, you can get a view of the Harding Icefield.  The icefield is 7000 sq miles in area and 4000 ft deep.  It is the largest icefield in the United States.  The icefield contains over 40 Glaciers.

One really good thing about the Harding Icefield Trail is that you do not have to climb very high to see impressive views.  At the upper portion of the trail there will still be snow even in July.  

How Much Time Does the Trail Take?

If you are planning on the entire 8.2 mile route you will want to allow 6-8 hours.  

What Should I Bring on the Hike?

You will need to bring warm clothes, rain gear, good hiking shoes, sunscreen, and sunglasses.  2 liters of water per-person is recommended or a water filterThe streams may contain Giardia, which can cause abdominal pain.  

Where to Stay Near Kenai Fjords National Park

Places to stay near Kenai Fjords National Park

Camping and RV

Kenai Fjords is a great place to camp because it is free!  There are 12 tent sites near the Exit Glacier area.

There are also many other camping option near Seward.  As well as RV parking if you decide to rent an RV in Alaska.

Hotels in Seward

Seward is a small town but there are a few accommodations available.

Are you Ready to Visit the Kenai Fjords National Park?

Kenai Fjords National Park

Are you ready to go to Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska?  Hopefully, this helps you plan your trip! There are some fun things to do in Seward, AK as well.  Kenai is a perfect day trip from Anchorage! 

Visiting Kenai Fjords National Park is worth it! 

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