Kenai Fjords is a U.S. National Park. Established in 1980, it is located near Seward, Alaska, and it covers more than 1,700 square miles. Kenai is best-known for its unique landscape and remote location. In fact, it is one of only three Alaskan parks that are accessible via roadway.
Nature and Terrain
The park is very diverse. It is home to both active glaciers and a beautiful coastline. The glaciers have reshaped the landscape, and much of the terrain is described as rocky. Exit Glacier is the only section of Kenai that is accessible via roadway. Animals in the area include various marine creatures, bears, and whales. Ocean storms and ice storms are common in the area.
Walking and Hiking Trails
Hikes and walks allow visitors spectacular, close-up views of the glaciers. Some walks are led by park rangers. However, guests may choose to explore a bit on their own. Those who desire to climb to Exit Glacier must cross a rocky plain. Because there is no defined path leading across the plain, it is probably best to make the trip with the help of a guide or ranger. Sometimes the plain is closed due to flooding. Visitors are advised to take caution when approaching the glacier. They should not venture to places where the ice rises above their body because large pieces of ice may fall down with no warning. The access road is open year-round, but it is closed to personal vehicles around mid-November through the early part of May.
Harding Icefield Trail is another popular hiking spot. The hike is longer that the walk to Exit Glacier. Harding Trail begins in the valley and winds through forests and meadows. The hike leads up an incline to a great view of an ice field packed in ice and snow. The hike is 7 miles round-trip, and should take 6 to 8 hours to complete. The hike is recommended for those who can handle a strenuous climb and rocky terrain. Guests may choose to hike with a park ranger. Hikers should take caution and check trail conditions before departure. They are advised to be mindful of the following:
–The path is often snow-covered, so bring appropriate clothing.
–Be careful, avalanches may occur.
–Temperatures may change suddenly, so be prepared for all types of weather.
–Bring lots of water.
–Beware of black bears along the trail.
–Do not venture off from the trail.
Visitors are allowed to camp in the Kenai backcountry. However, the area can be quite dangerous for those who are not aware of their surroundings. Campers are advised against setting camp near berry patches, salmon streams, or places located near hunting and game trails. These areas are often a magnet for black bears and other wild animals. Campers should camp in places where bear food lockers are located. They should also use bear-resistant containers for their food. Campers should check in with the visitor’s center upon arrival to receive further instructions about camping restrictions and warnings.
Some kayakers make their way into Kenai via water taxi, and others arrive by plane. Once they’ve gained entry to the park, kayakers are advised to use a guide. The waters can be rough, especially for paddlers with little experience. Breezes, ocean swells, and summer storms may affect the water and make paddling more difficult.
Fishermen are drawn to Kenai’s waters. They fish in salt water or fresh water. Resurrection Bay and the Fjords contain various types of fish including salmon, halibut and lingcod.
Mountaineers enjoy exploring the ice fields. Only experienced mountaineers should attempt to camp and trek through the area. Mountaineers should be skillful skiers with good survival skills. They must also understand rescue procedures. April is considered the best month to cross the fields.