Kenai Fjords became a National Park in 1980 in order to protect the Harding Icefield and its outflowing glaciers and coastal fjords. At approximately 600 square miles, the Harding Icefield is the largest icefield wholly contained within the United States.
Glaciers, earthquakes, and ocean storms have crafted the Park’s architecture, resulting in a vivid landscape. A birder’s paradise, visitors flock to this temperate rainforest to view the abundant wildlife, watch active glaciers, and experience the trails and backwoods adventures. For more information, reference the Kenai Fjords National Park website.
Exit Glacier is the only part of Kenai Fjords National Park accessible by road. Here you can stroll the trails, walk very close to an active glacier, or take a ranger-led walk. It is a place where you can witness up close how glaciers re-shape a landscape and learn how plant life reclaims the barren rocky land exposed by a glacier’s retreat.
The Exit Glacier Nature Center includes hands-on exhibits and an Alaska Geographic book store. Exit Glacier is open year-round, but the road is closed to vehicle traffic upon the arrival of snow (usually Oct through mid-May). The glacier is several miles from the closure gate and can not be seen from the turn-around point. Winter access includes snow machines, dogsleds, hikers, and cross-country skiers.
Boat / Kayak to the Park
Boat tours into the National Park run seasonally from late spring until early fall. Local companies offer a variety of itineraries and departure times – all from the easily-accessible Seward harbor.
For those wishing to get even closer to the Park’s wonders, kayak guides lead group and custom tours. Options range for a few hours to more adventurous overnight packages.
While the Park does not “close”, access is significantly limited for the casual visitor from late September through early May. The road to Exit Glacier is closed by the end of September, which also restricts vehicle access to the Park’s public-use cabins. Scheduled boat tours generally cease at the end of September, and while Whale-Watching tours begin as early as late March, the Park tours generally do not begin until May.