Kenai Fjords National Park   2 comments

Where Is It: About 125 miles from Anchorage. Only three of the National Parks are accessible by road: Kenai Fjords, Denali, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks. You can reach this park by train, plane or boat.

The Birth: From Wikipedia:

Kenai Fjords National Monument was initially designated by President Jimmy Carter on December 1, 1978, using the Antiquities Act, pending final legislation to resolve the allotment of public lands in Alaska. Establishment as a national park followed the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980. The park protects the icefield, a narrow fringe of forested land between the mountains and the sea, and the deeply indented coastline.

Size: 669,983 acres … making it the smallest National Park in Alaska.

# Visitors: 281,279 in 2012. July had peak attendance; winter months have almost no attendance.

Plants: From Wikipedia:

The plant communities at Kenai Fjords are shaped by glacial retreat. New lands exposed in former glacier beds are at first stony, lacking in soil. The first plants to appear in recently glaciated areas are lichens and mosses, with a few hardy plants such as dward fireweek and yellow dryas. These pioneers are followed by other plants as the moss and lichen break rock down into soil. In particular, Sitka alder is capable of fixing nitrogen, supporting itself and enriching the soil. Willows also appear at this stage. Willows and alders are followed by black cottonwoods, then Sitka spruce. The mature forest features Sitka spruce and mountain hemlocks, with an understory of Devil’s Club, Alaska blueberry, elderberry, baneberry, watermelon baneberry and lady fern in the coniferous forest understory. A similar succession pattern is seen at the park’s nunataks, exposed rock outcroppings in the Harding Icefield. Forested portions of the park are dominated by conifers, with deciduous forests confined to areas recently vacated by glaciers.

Animals: From Wikipedia:

Large terrestrial mammals in the park include Alaskan brown bears, American black bears, moose and mountain goats. Smaller mammals include beaver and river otter. Marine mammals include sea otters, harbor seals and Steller sea lions. Cetaceans seen in park waters include orcas, fin whales, humpback wales, minke whales, Dall’s porpoises and Pacific white-sided dolphins.

Bird life at Kenai Fjords includes bald eagles, the Peale’s subspecies of peregrine falcon, black-billed magpies and Steller’s jays.

Choices: From

For recommendations on getting around the park, visit the Kenai Fjords National Park Information Center near the small boat harbor. The most popular and accessible area in the park is Exit Glacier, 13 miles northwest of Seward. You can drive to it or take a tour bus. Trails offer half-hour hikes to the glacier and a full-day roundtrip hike to the Harding Icefield.

Otherwise, hiking is a matter of exploring wilderness shores and ridges accessible only by boat and plane. From mid-May to late September, daily tour boats from Seward offer round-trip half-day and full-day excursions to the fjords and outlying islands. Charter boats take kayakers and campers to any fjord they wish (most often Aialik Bay) and pick them up the same day or days later. Kayaking, fishing, and backpacking guides are available. Ask the park for a list.

From Seward or Homer you can book a breathtaking one-hour flight over the Harding Icefield and Kenai coast. For extended adventures, skiplanes drop off and pick up skiers on the icefield, and floatplanes do the same for kayakers in the fjords, weather permitting.

Fees: $5 for a car’s 1-week pass.

Staying There: There are 10 sites and 4 cabins in Kenai Fjords only campground, which is a walk-in, tents-only campground. No fees are charged. There is no lodging in the Park.

Contact Info:

Kenai Fjords National Park
P.O. Box 1727
Seward, AK 99664
Visitor Center (Late May – Mid September) – 907-422-0535
Park Headquarters – 907-422-0500


National Park Service: Kenai Fjords National Park

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