Welcome to my article on Kenai Fjords National Park! My name is Jen Leigh Brewster (@jens.on.a.mountain) and I’m a proud Colorado native, born in Denver. My father, Hans, is an avid outdoorsman who shared his passion for the mountains with me as a young girl. My family is an active one!
We enjoyed hiking, skiing and camping as entertainment over things in the city. My father was born in Germany and my Oma and Opa traveled the world. Watching their adventures and being raised with a German influence gave me a sense of culture and adventure outside the US.
COVID-19 then drastically changed my world in Denver, as with millions of others around the world. My boyfriend, Peter, had been working on his dream of owning and operating a gold mine. Originally, I had not intended to go with him for the season but since I was out of work I thought: “Why not”?! Alaska had always been on my bucket list of places to explore.
I can now say that I ran a productive gold mine for a summer and hiked over 400 miles of trails in Alaska. We were there from May to October of 2020 and we traveled around most of the state in our truck and camper.
Visiting Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska
I am a national park geek and advocate. I have visited over 30 national parks. Since Alaska hosts some of the most beautiful, vast and unexplored parks – you can bet I ensured that I would see multiple while there! We hiked and camped in Denali National Park and Preserve, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve and last but not least Kenai Fjords National Park.
Kenai Fjords was absolutely beautiful. The way I describe it to others is that it feels like a mix between tropical, mountainous and wintery. Being from Colorado and having hiked all “14ers” (Colorado has 58 mountain peaks exceeding 14,000 feet), I would say that the mountains in Kenai Fjords aren’t that big because many of them were in the 6,000 to 10,000 range.
The tallest peak in Kenai Fjords National Park is Truuli Peak at only 6,612 feet above sea level. But that doesn’t mean you don’t gain some serious elevation as many of the hikes there start right at sea level. While in Kenai Fjords National Park, we did a lot of hiking. We knocked out a few hikes that were very touristy but also did some amazing off-the-grid hiking trails.
Best Things To Do at Kenai Fjords National Park
For those not as experienced in hiking in the backcountry, I would highly recommend Portage Glacier, Exit Glacier and Tonsina Creek Trail in Kenai Fjords National Park. All of these hiking trails are relatively short and don’t require excessive amounts of gear and equipment. Also, they are heavily trafficked – so the chances of encountering wild bears is much lower.
Most trails inside national parks in Alaska don’t allow dogs, so just keep that in mind if you plan on traveling with your pooches! In the more advanced categories we hiked Marathon Race Trail, Lost Lake Trail, Caines Head Trail, Crater Lake, Mt. Alice Trail and Alpine Trail. The elevation gains on these hikes were quite intense but the views were stunning.
We also kayaked with a company called Liquid Adventures through an active iceberg peninsula up to Bear Glacier, which is Harding Icefield’s largest glacier. On this tour we saw so much wildlife – from bears to sea otters to eagles. We even had a large iceberg break off 25 feet from us!
The whole time we were surrounded by green lush mountains yet floated past massive icebergs. It was the most incredible juxtaposition. Kayaking Bear Glacier was my absolute favorite adventure in Kenai Fjords. My second favorite experience was getting the chance to camp on the beach.
Need to Know Before you Go
Plan your routes prior to traveling. All of the national parks inside Alaska are large and have very few accessible roads (and limited cell service to boot). Understanding how to navigate a map is important! Many of our hikes were 15+ miles to get anywhere with the views that we wanted.
Also, plan where you want to stay. We had our own truck and camper since we traveled to Alaska for five months. Most of the time we just lived in our camper. Every so often we would treat ourselves to a nice hotel. We did a lot of backpacking and many of our meals were eaten over a campfire.
The port city of Seward is where we spent most of our time while visiting Kenai Fjords National Park. We camped in a few different areas there. Both Lowell Point State Recreation Area and Resurrection RV Park were fantastic when we wanted to use our camper. So I can definitely recommend both of those places for accommodation if you plan on traveling by camper.
Alaska is very seasonal in terms of what is open or closed. And it can be an expensive place to travel through. For example, a simple meal can cost $25 per person on average without beverages! Groceries are also super pricey. Last but not least, don’t skim on gear. You will need many layers – especially those which keep you dry. Enjoy your visit to Kenai Fjords!