If you visit Seward an absolute must is to take a day trip into the Kenai Fjords National Park. You will be amazed by a beautiful, lush green coastline featuring tidewater glaciers. More than likely you will also meet some of the locals, like killer whales, humpbacks, puffins, sea otters and other marine life.
There are numerous companies offering tours to the National Park that is named for this numerous fjords carved by glaciers. There glaciers origin from Harding Icefield which is one of the largest icefields in the United States. A boat trip is the only way to see its many glaciers, except Exit Glacier which can be reached by car.
The tours all start from the picturesque harbour of Seward. Surrounded by mountains and filled with colourful fishing boats the harbour is a beautiful spot in itself. This is also the perfect spot to see fishermen clean the catch of the day. As soon as we got on the water it didn’t not take long before we spotted our first glacier.
The park protects the icefield, a narrow fringe of land between the mountains and the sea, and the rugged coastline. All of which we got to experience on this trip.
I was crossing my fingers for orcas (or often referred to as killer whales) and humpbacks was thrilled when we got to see both! The humpback didn’t stay with us long, but did offer a lovely pose of it tails before it dowe under.
The orcas however seemed like they were hunting along the shoreline and we followed them for 20-30 minutes. It must have been around 8-10 orcas in the pod that we observed. I was surprised by how close to the shore they went.
I could have stayed with the orcas all day had it been up to me. But we were headed to see a tidewater glacier and had to move on. One last picture of the orcas before we continued further into Kenai Fjords National Park.
For those of you interested in geology, or the Ice Age animation movies, you’ll be excited to learn that this park has been landscaped by Continental Drift. Beyond the surface of this beauty large forces are at work as the continental plates collide. Did you know that some of the rock you see was once coral reef close to the equator. Pretty fascination to think about, right?
About half of the park is covered by ice and we were heading in Aialik Bay to see some of it up close and personal. Aialik Glacier is one out of 38 glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park with Harding Icefield being the source of all of them.
It is such an impressive feeling to be close to a tidewater glacier. You can feel the draft get colder the closer you get. When you get up close you realise the size of the wall and you hear the cracking and thundering when the glacier calves. And those deep blue colours are nothing less than stunning.
Aialik Glacier was our turning point, but the fun was far from over. On our way out Aialik Bay we came across the most adorable sea otters. If you have ready any of my previous Alaska posts you know I have a soft spot for these fellas. Just look at them clinging together in the water having a snack. So cute.
A bit further out on one of the more exposed rocks a group of seller sea lions kept it cool in the shadow. We saw a lot of sea lions while in Alaska, but this bunch I must admit was of the more relaxed type. It must have been far outside of breeding season.
A day cruise is the way to go if you really want to experience Kenai Fjords National Park. The tours usually run from May to September. You should at least do a 6 hours tour to have sufficient time to visit one of the tidewater glaciers. For those enthusiasts out there you will also find longer options. Should you be more adventurous you take a kayaking tour that includes overnight in a wilderness cabin in the park.
Thanks for reading, we would love to hear what you think. Have you been to Kenai Fjords National Park? What would be your favourite moment, the orcas or the tidewater glacier?