Exploring the Kenai Peninsula is a part of an Alaskan mini-series. Click here for Part 1.
Marine Cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park is mainly the coastline of the Kenai Peninsula. Most of the park is only accessible by water with only one road going into the park to Exit Glacier. With that being said, the boys wanted to do a marine tour out of Seward.
We woke up in the morning and headed to Seward to figure out what type of cruise we wanted to see. We found Major Marine Tours and bought the 7.5 hour cruise for roughly $173 per person that did not include food. We then got our assigned seats and boarded the Spirit of Adventure. Even though we had assigned seats, we did not stay in the seats long. We decided to stay on the open parts of the deck to maximize our chances for wildlife photography.
Spirit of Adventure
We made our way out of Resurrection Bay with foggy conditions but the fjords were still visible and entered into Kenai Fjords National Park by passing Bear Glacier. We had some choppy water, so I stayed outside for fresh air during those times. It wasn’t long until we spotted some puffins and a humpback whales that continued to surface. We spent some time circling and following the humpbacks around to watch them surface. The tour had a ranger on board, so the tour was very informative.
Bear Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park
We then thought we saw small orcas, but they were dall’s porpoises. They were riding in the wake of the boat, so we were not able to get a good picture until they dove. We then got to the Aialik Glacier, where we saw lots of birds, puffins, and bald eagles.
We then got to see several orcas in the distance while approaching the glacier. We saw some orca families with babies swimming with their moms. We also got to see one breach or jump out of the water. We then got close to the glacier on the boat to watch the glacier calve, which then formed tons of icebergs in the water that the boat had to maneuver around.
On the way to Holgate Glacier, we saw sea otters hanging out. They are really shy, so the boat would usually scare them into the water before we got close enough to take pictures. They were extremely cute when they were floating and trying to eat their food above water.
After the Holgate Glacier, we had a long trip back to Seward. We continued to see wildlife and even got to see a mountain goat and more bald eagles and birds. It was pretty rainy the whole trip, so we were pretty wet. We did go back inside for a while to dry off on our return back to Seward to hear the ranger talk more about the history of the Kenai Peninsula, the park, and the wildlife we encountered.
Dustin talked to her for a bit because he seemed really interested in living in Alaska for a little and a ranger would be a seasonal option for him. On the way back through the Resurrection Bay, the water was extremely choppy. The captain of the boat made everyone sit down. We were the only ones outside because Dustin and I were getting a little sea sick with all the motion. Dustin actually got sick a few times during the trip. I was better than I thought I would be.
After we returned to land, we decided to grab dinner in Seward before heading back to our cabin. We ate at Thorn’s Place, which was not cheap. The place looked like an old strip club you see in movies with leather benches and red velvet walls and colors. We all shared our dinners and then did some souvenir shopping.
We got back to the cabin in Moose Pass around 8. The weather started to turn around a little when we were relaxing, so we decided to venture out for some photo opportunities. We ended up at Tern Lake, where we saw some sockeye salmon in the creek near Tern Lake. They were extremely pink and showed up nicely in the water. We got back and were in bed around 10:30 even though it was still light outside, which Dustin continued to comment on throughout our trip on how much daylight we had.
Hiking Harding Ice Field Hike/ Exit Glacier
Before the trip, I planned some hikes that were on Kenai Peninsula. I printed out the route descriptions and decided that the three of us could decide which one we wanted to do once we were together. We were able to keep our trip more flexible by doing this. However, Andy found a hike that we ended up really enjoying and was good for the three of us. We wanted to see Exit Glacier anyways, so we decided to the the Harding Ice Field Hike.
We woke up and headed to the only part of Kenai Fjords National Park by car/foot. We parked the car and started the hike at 9:41 am. The hike was an 8.2 mile round trip hike that gained roughly 3,000 feet elevation in a short 4.1 miles to the top. During the hike, we started up through the trees with occasional views overlooking Exit Glacier and the valley below.
We had a semi muddy trail up switchbacks through the trees. There were a few stream crossings, so I was not worried about conserving my water. We also passed through some alpine meadows. We ended up keeping pace in front of a mother and daughter hiking pair from Switzerland. I kept pace and the boys stayed with me as we continued our way up through the trees, alpine meadows, and then alpine areas with areas of snow on the trail. The snow had some pink colors and various blue colors as well. The pink colors were from the bacteria that lived on the snow. Since we started the hike early, the snow on the way up was still pretty hard and not extremely wet.
Hiking to the Harding Ice Field
We continued our way through the snow and finally made it to the end of the trail that overlooked the Harding Ice Field. It was pretty cool to see the top of the glacier and how it cut through the mountains to make the valley and landscape that was magnificent. It only took us 2.5 hours to get to the end of the trail. We took a 45 minute break. We then had a nice little snack/lunch on the top.
Harding Ice Field
We then headed back down, which did not take too long. We ran into more people attempting the hike, but some looked like they were struggling with the elevation climb. The snow started to melt a little, so we had some slushy conditions on the way back down. We filtered some water when we got back below tree line. We had to slow down our pace through the trail because of groups being slow because the trail was narrow.
We completed the descent in 1.75 hours around 2:30. We then walked down to the foot of the glacier. We went to Outflow Plains, took off our boots, rolled up our pants, and put on our water shoes to prep to cross the glacier streams. We did about 4 to 6 crossings and the water was pretty strong. We got to the base of the glacier and then decided to climb up the bank up to the overlook area where most people go. We got to the overlook and headed roughly 1 mile down to the visitor’s center. We stopped back quickly to pick up our boots from the bushes we hid them in at the Outflow Plains trail head.
Cross Glacier Runoff
We got to the visitor’s center and overheard someone say that a bear and her cub just crossed the trail. We were kind of bummed out because we have been wanting to see a brown bear really bad during the trip. We then found out that it was a black bear, so we did not care too much since we have black bears at home. We then checked out the visitor’s center, and Dustin bought a couple of books and talked to more rangers.
We then decided to grab dinner in Seward again. However, we did not make it to Seward. We ended up at Salmon Bake restaurant and waited for the restaurant to open. The dinner was extremely good. Dustin made friends with a table of fishermen from Arizona. We chatted with them while we waited for our food and drank our beers. I ordered the Alaskan red snapper fish and chips, and the guys both had the salmon bake. Dustin enjoyed that we all shared our food and let each other try all the beers we ordered. The Arizona table bought us a chocolate, peanut butter cheesecake, which was delicious.
We then headed back to the cabin and repacked. We were all in bed around 9 pm for our last night in the cabin.
Have you ever seen a fjord or glacier?
More in this series:
- Alaska Itinerary
- Kenai Peninsula
- Kenai Peninsula Homer Fishing
- Denali National Park
- Tips for Planning a Visit to Denali National Park
If you liked this post, please share it. To follow me on my journey to travel the world please subscribe to my RSS feed or any of my social networks.