Hike to one of the largest icefields in North America, kayak in front of glaciers, spot humpback whales and orcas on a wildlife cruise, go ice climbing or glacier hiking, and soar over the fjords in a helicopter…these are all things to do in Kenai Fjords National Park.
This is one of the few national parks in Alaska that you can drive to, but to really experience this park, you will need to hike, kayak, cruise, or see it from the sky. Most of this park is ice and water, so it is not the type of place where you drive from viewpoint to viewpoint.
But that is what makes this park such a wonderful place to visit. If you are seeking adventure, you can find it here. With kayaking, ice climbing, and glacier hiking, many wonderful adventures await. And if you prefer to sit back, relax, and view this park from a boat, you can do that too.
KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK
Founded: December 2, 1980
Annual Visitors: 411,000 in 2021, making Kenai Fjords the 42nd most visited park that year.
Size: 670,000 acres
Top Experiences in Kenai Fjords
Take a wildlife cruise. Cruising the fjords is one of the best things to do in Kenai Fjords. Cruises last a half day to a full day and the farther you go from Seward, the better the experience. Not only do you get to see glaciers and dramatic coastal scenery, but you also have the chance to spot orcas, humpback whales, sea otters, bald eagles, seals and sea lions, and puffins.
Drive Exit Glacier Road. Exit Glacier Road is the only road in Kenai Fjords National Park. It’s only 8.5 miles long and it connects Seward to the Exit Glacier.
Hike the short trails at the base of the Exit Glacier. The Glacier Loop Trail and Glacier Overlook Trail take you to viewpoints of the Exit Glacier and is perfect for those with limited time or those who don’t want to do a long, challenging hike.
Hike or ice climb on the Exit Glacier. Another great thing to do in Kenai Fjords National Park is to go hiking or ice climbing on the Exit Glacier.
Hike the Harding Icefield Trail. The Harding Icefield Trail is an 8-mile strenuous hike that takes you to a stunning viewpoing of the Harding Icefield. For hikers, it is a must-do in the park.
Go glacier kayaking. If you want to see Kenai Fjords National Park from the water and want to do something more adventurous than a wildlife cruise, adding on glacier kayaking is a great option. We went glacier kayaking in Aialik Bay and it was an awesome experience.
Take a flightseeing tour. If you want to see Kenai Fjords National Park from the sky, you can take a scenic helicopter flight or even a backcountry helicopter hiking trip.
Go fishing. In Kenai Fjords National Park, you can go both freshwater and saltwater fishing. You can fish for salmon and Dolly Varden in the rivers and streams. In Seward and Resurrection Bay, you can fish for salmon, halibut, rockfish, and lingcod.
Kenai Fjords National Park preserves and protects the Harding Icefield, which is the largest icefield that is located entirely within the United States. This icefield is what “feeds” the glaciers on the Kenai Peninsula and there are at least 38 glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park.
The Exit Glacier is the most accessible of these glaciers. It’s the only glacier that you can drive to. You can hike several trails to viewpoints of this glacier, as well as hike on it or go ice climbing, with an experienced guide.
About 50% of this park is covered in ice. The Harding Icefield gets 60 feet of snow a year!
Learn More about Kenai Fjords
How Many Days Should You Spend in Kenai Fjords National Park?
We recommend spending at least two full days in Kenai Fjords National Park. This gives you enough time to take a fjord cruise and hike the trails near Exit Glacier or go ice climbing or glacier hiking.
With more time, you can also hike the Mount Marathon trail or Lost Lake Trail, spend some time in Seward, go fishing, glacier kayaking, or go flightseeing.
4 Day Kenai Fjords National Park Itinerary:
Day 1: Scenic drive on the Seward Highway to Seward/Kenai Fjords National Park
Day 2: Kenai Fjords cruise
Day 3: Hike the Exit Glacier trails, the Harding Icefield Trail, and/or go ice climbing or glacier hiking on the Exit Glacier
Day 4: Flightseeing, Lost Lake Trail, Mount Marathon, or a cruise + kayaking combo
Best Time to Visit Kenai Fjords National Park
The best time to visit Kenai Fjords National Park is in the summer (June, July and August). This is when fjord cruises, glacier hiking, and ice climbing tours are offered.
You can visit Seward all year but Exit Glacier Road closes to vehicles once it gets snow covered. And many tours are not offered between October and mid-May.