Destination Guides

Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska: home to famous American black bears

The glacial lakes, expansive evergreen forests and natural beauty of Alaska make it one of the top US destinations on everyone’s bucket list. Most visitors only ever see Alaska by ship, but setting foot on dry land is the only way to truly appreciate the majesty of the state. Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska is a hidden gem but with so much to offer. Home to thousands of native wildlife species and magnificent landscapes, Kenai Fjords National Park is a must see. 

Visiting Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska

Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska is a uniquely wild place, famous for its abundant wildlife as well as the Kenai Mountains and the Harding Icefield. 

The park is also extremely accessible, being only a 2.5 hour drive south of Anchorage, and the town of Seward is the perfect base for sightseeing. But if you’re unfamiliar with Kenai Fjords National Park and don’t know where to begin with your trip, here are 9 things you have to see and do.

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See the Harding Icefield

The jewel of the park, the Harding Icefield is the largest in the United States, covering a massive 700 square miles and containing over 35 glaciers. The largest glacier, Bear Glacier, is a tidewater glacier and is a popular spot for kayakers. The serene blue waters and massive icebergs are a sight to behold, whether from the water itself or via aircraft.

Go fishing

Kenai Fjords National Park is home to some incredible fishing, with saltwater fishing possible right from the Seward shoreline or on a boat in the fjords. There are even freshwater options at some of the glacial lakes in the area. 

Attend a Ranger-led program

The Park Rangers at Kenai National Park regularly run guided hikes and educational programs about the wildlife and geology of the park and its many inhabitants and glaciers. Alaska is filled with untouched natural beauty and if you’ve ever wanted to learn more about what makes Alaska special, the Kenai Fjords National Park Rangers are more than happy to help.

Take a boat tour of the fjords

This is probably the main attraction of the park and for a very good reason. Taking a boat tour out into the water to see the giant glaciers jutting out into the ocean is something you will remember forever. There is also sure to be plenty of wildlife around, as the waters around the Kenai Peninsula are filled with whales, seals, sea lions, bald eagles and other marine life.

Take a scenic flight

To truly appreciate the beauty of the landscape, a scenic flight will give you a perspective you will never get from the ground. Whether by plane or helicopter, soaring over the evergreen forest and the Kenai Mountains will take your breath away. 

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Go kayaking

Bear Glacier is a popular spot for kayakers, but there are many more options if you want to get out on the water. The amazing views and tranquil waters are made even more magical because kayaking makes less noise than boats and you may be able to spot more wildlife.

Go mountaineering

For the more adventurous visitor to Kenai Peninsula, the Harding Icefield offers excellent mountaineering opportunities. April is the best time for access to the Icefield with minimal risks. However, all mountaineering adventurers should be well-versed and experienced in glacier travel and crevasse rescue. The best routes are from Tustemena Glacier to Exit Glacier, and from Chernof Glacier (via the Fox River) to Exit Glacier. Exit Glacier is, naturally, the ideal ‘exit’ since there is no need to rely on boat or plane access.

Experience the wildlife

Kenai Fjords National Park is home to thousands of native wildlife species, including moose, timber wolves, porcupines, coyotes, and Canadian lynx. The wide variety of wildlife is a major draw for many visitors to the national park and there are many options to view Kenai’s animals, whether from the hiking trail, the water, or the sky.

Kenai’s Black Bears

Of all Kenai’s wildlife, its black bears are probably its most famous inhabitants. If you’ve been wondering where to see bears in Alaska, then Kenai Fjords National Park is a must-visit.

The Kenai black bear is a compact little guy, being the smallest bear species in America. Males can weigh in at a whopping 250 kilograms at the height of summer. Still, compared to other bear species, like the grizzly or brown bear, black bears are tiny.

Don’t let that fool you though, the best way to observe bears in Kenai Fjords National Park is from a distance on one of the many bear-viewing platforms and from the official hiking trails. Be sure to pack a pair of binoculars to maintain a safe distance. 

Black bears are not the only bears in Kenai Fjords National Park, however. Brown bears also make their home here, though black bears are far more common.  

Whether you want to hike, kayak, fly or simply observe the local wildlife, Kenai Fjords National Park has it all. Trafalgar’s Majestic Alaska tour will guide you through all the beauty and majesty of Alaska, including Kenai Fjords National Park. 

Have you ever visited Alaska, or Kenai Fjords National Park? Do you plan on visiting in the future? Let us know in the comments or check out our website to find out where to see bears in Alaska!

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