It became one of the national parks of the United States after the passage of the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act in 1980. Home to the massive Harding Icefield, the park is named after the many fjords – valleys located below sea level-carved by the glaciers that descend the mountains. The icefield has created at least 38 Kenai Fjords glaciers, with the Bear Glacier being the largest. You can explore parts of the park by plane, on foot or by car. But a cruise to the Kenai Fjords National Park from Seward is both the most popular way and, in my opinion, the best way to see it.
KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL WILDLIFE PARK
We saw a lot of Alaskan wildlife before we even left Resurrection Bay. Bald eagles hovered above us waiting for our luggage to be loaded. Humpback cetacean and a host of finisher cetacean were feeding in the cool water, and we saw several pairs of sea otters hovering next to each other. From the black three-legged gulls and common moray eels to pelagic cormorants and various seagulls, Alaskan birds were almost constantly in close proximity. But our favorites were the two types of puffins, the horned puffin and the bushy puffin, which we often discovered next to the boat.
TIPS FOR YOUR ALASKA GLACIER CRUISE
Even if you are only taking a half-day cruise in the Kenai Fjord, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure a positive experience:
- If your visit stays in the relatively sheltered waters of Resurrection Bay, you can probably expect a fairly leisurely cruise. But if the weather is bad and your tour takes you further into the Kenai Fjords National Park, seasickness can be a problem.
- If motion sickness is a recurring problem for you, take the medicine before your Seward cruise departs. Once you feel sick, it is too after for the medicine to stop nausea.
- Our AdventureSmith tour included lunch, but not all Kenai cruises. It’s a good idea to bring snacks just in matter, as nausea on a full stomach is less likely.
- The sun in Alaska can be very intense, so be sure to bring a day pack or backpack with a wide hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and photo equipment or binoculars for wildlife viewing.
- The weather on the Kenai Peninsula can be notoriously unpredictable. Even sunny days can be quite cool, especially if you are on the open deck.
- Dress in layers, ideally with windproof and waterproof trousers and jackets. Bringing a warm hat and gloves is always a good idea if you don’t like the cold.
VISIT TO THE KENAI FJORDS GLACIER LODGE
Owned by the same company as the Kenai Backcountry Lodge and the Kenai Riverside Lodge, the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge is by far my favorite Lodge in Alaska that I have ever visited. Located in the 1,700-acre Pedersen Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary, Kenai Lodge has been designed to have minimal impact on the environment. The intact sanctuary is owned by the Port Graham Corporation (PGC), an Alaska Native corporation, and is part of the Alutiiq ancestral home.