Park Number: 48/61
First Visited: August 23, 2015
Of the Alaskan national parks, Kenai Fjords is the most accessible. Just 130 miles south of Anchorage, this park invites visitors of all dispositions: boat tours for the more observational, sea kayaking for the more adventurous, glacial hiking for the more masochistic.
The town of Seward sits at the center of it all, offering a quaint location as a home base. It is here that you can enjoy espresso from a café converted church, grab a beer with other vagrant wanderers, or tent camp for an easy $10 (if you can snag a first-come, first-serve campsite in the national park it’s free and infinitely more scenic).
Choosing the way of the ocean you will witness glaciers, like frozen cliff-side avalanches, creeping down to the Gulf of Alaska and calving baby icebergs. You’ll also most likely see variations of the park’s myriad whales, puffins, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, and jellyfish.
If you go the way of land, checking out the Exit Glacier or, further yet, the Harding Icefield, you’ll see a different array of fauna: black bears and Dall sheep. Hiking to the Harding Icefield was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done as it was the most strenuous hike I’ve been on (in terms of unrelenting elevation gain) coupled with a surreal payoff—a view at the endless expanse of terrain where Kenai Peninsula glaciers are born.
Considering this diversity, Kenai Fjords is my favorite Alaskan national park thus far.