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Exploring Kenai Fjords National Park

Welcome To Kenai Fjords National Park

If you aren’t arriving in Seward via cruise line or train you’re most likely flying into Anchorage or other points north and driving. From Anchorage you can drive the Seward Highway which follows the coast south of Anchorage with the mountains of Chugach State Park on your left and the Cook Inlet on your right. The highway is classified as an All-American Road and Scenic By-way for a reason, providing magnificent views along the way. For more details on the drive you can check out our post on traveling the Turnagain Arm Scenic By-Way.

Continuing south on the Seward Highway you soon reach the Kenai Peninsula Welcome Sign.


Offering a wide range of spectacular scenery. The Kenai Peninsula includes views of soaring mountains, awe inspiring glaciers, turquoise fjords along with an abundance of marine and land wildlife.


Notable Stops:

If it’s a clear day on your drive toward Seward there are a couple of spots along the highway you might consider for some pretty views and photo ops.

  • Tern Lake: Tern Lake is located at the junction of the Seward and Sterling Highways. The area is shared by common loons, bald eagles and arctic terns along with a variety of songbirds. You might spot beavers, river otters and muskrats as well as Moose. Dall sheep and Mountain Goats on the surrounding mountains. There are pullouts available on both highways at the southbound junction. Google Map
  • Kenai Lake: A small area is available to pull off to the side of the southbound highway. Google Map


Visit for a driving guide listing stops along the Seward Highway from Anchorage to Seward.

Seward Highway Driving Guide
Map Source:

Seward Alaska

Seward is a popular destination for visiting Alaska. Situated at the head of Resurrection Bay, Seward’s harbor and lively waterfront offer stunning views of the bay and its rugged coastline. The harbor is filled with all types of fishing vessels and of course commercial cruise lines. You can enjoy a meal and views at an assortment of cafes and restaurants located along the harbor.


When To Visit Seward

Although Seward and all of Alaska is open 12 months a year we planned our visit for early June. We normally plan our travels during “shoulder season” or at the very least early or late tourist season in order to avoid the crowds. Plus rates tend to be lower than during peak season.

In Alaska, cruise ship season runs from May through September with July and August being the busiest. In planning our visit for early June we were able to avoid much of the crowds while still being able to see most of what we had planned.


Where To Stay In Seward

A wide range of lodging options are available in Seward including hotels, bed & breakfasts and vacation rentals as well camping and RV options. Of course where you stay depends on your preferences and budget.

We typically search for places that are close to the action but away from the busyness of town. That’s exactly what we found with Bear Lake Lodgings B&B. It’s located just a few miles north of Seward right on the shores of Bear Lake smack dab in the middle of nature.


Bear Lake Lodge Gallery:


Our hosts Pat and Dennis were super easy to communicate with prior to our arrival and offered a number of suggestions of things to do and stories during our stay. Our room was neat & clean and included a sitting area as well as a separate bedroom both with views of the lake.

Several delicious breakfasts were available to select from in advance as well as an assortment of ingredients you can use to create your own trail snacks. Guests get access to kayaks & canoes to enjoy the lake and are included with your stay. You can even borrow a can of bear spray if you’re going on a hike. And if you’re arriving by sea plane the lodge has you covered!

One other bonus is being so near the Bear Creek Weir to view the returning salmon, it’s located just down the road from the lodge that you can walk to or drive.



If you are planning a trip to the Seward we highly recommend Bear Lake Lodgings B&B for your consideration.

Wherever you end up staying we recommended booking as far in advance as possible to ensure availability.


Top 2 Things To Do While Visiting Seward

If your time is limited then be sure to plan on doing these Top 2 Activities during your visit. A Kenai Fjords Tour and a Visit to Exit Glacier!


Kenai Fjords Tours

There are a number of reputable companies offering Kenai Fjords tours of various durations depending on your timing and budget. Two of the most popular are Kenai Fjord Tours and Major Marine Tours. Options for smaller vessel and kayak tours are also available from other outfits.

We chose the 7.5 hour tour with Major Marine Tours which was nothing short of incredible! Even though the weather was cool, wet & gloomy the captain and crew made this tour one of the top highlights of our entire trip to Alaska!

Wildlife sightings included otters, sea lions, orca and humpback whales, mountain goats with a variety of sea birds and more. We visited sea stacks, waterfalls and multiple calving glaciers. The tour provided ample time at each stop to insure everyone got their fill of natures beauty. Lunch was included in the tour as well as a cash bar, we even had the opportunity to partake in margaritas prepared with glacier ice that had been harvested from the sea.

Be sure to check out both our gallery and short video below. They offer a variety of cruises including half and full day options based on your interests and itinerary including options with educational kids programs and more.

While we visited in June we actually purchased our tickets the previous November during their black friday sale to get what we believe is their biggest discount. So be sure to check online & social media channels from any of the different providers you’re interested in.


Major Marine Tours
Kenai Fjords Photo Gallery:


Major Marine Tours Video:


Visit Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier is one of the most visited glaciers in the world and the only portion of Kenai Fjords National Park that is accessible by road. It’s about a 15-20 minute drive from Seward located 8.5 miles off the Seward Highway near milepost 3. From the Seward Hwy you head west on Herman Leirer road which ends at the nature center.


If you’re arriving by train or cruise you can take the Exit Glacier Shuttle to the Nature Center.

Parking and restrooms are available at the nature center though it can tend to fill up so arriving early is always a good bet.



There are several hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels, the most accessible is the Glacier View Loop Trail that leads through the cottonwood forest and along the river to Glacier View. It’s a one mile accessible trail that loops back toward the nature center.


Photo Courtesy NPS


From the Glacier View Loop Trail you can continue on to the Glacier Overlook Trail for another .6 mile to reach the Exit Glacier Overlook. The Overlook Trail is well maintained though a bit more challenging. It provides impressive views of the glacier and the surrounding valley. Year markers along the trail indicate the glacier’s previous end points, in fact you’ll notice them along the road as well when driving in.

The Outwash Plain: A short offshoot trail from the Overlook Trail leads to the outwash plain. This is the riverbed that runs from the toe of the glacier formed from rushing meltwater. Note that there are signs warning that entering is at your own risk because the area is prone to unpredictable glacier outbursts. As you get closer to the toe you’ll note additional signage stating the area is closed and unsafe. Please head these warnings.



We ventured out into the outwash area where, from a safe distance, you can view ice caves that have formed at the toe of the glacier. If you visit the outwash area do take note of where you entered in order to find your way back as the trail is not marked.

More adventurous hikers can challenge themselves on the Harding Icefield Trail. A strenuous 8.2 mile hike that rewards hikers with breathtaking views of the icefield.

Exit Glacier Gallery:


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