Kenai Fjords tours, courtresy Circi AlaskaKenai Fjords National Park and Preserve
Kenai Fjords National Park and Preserve encompasses approximately 605,000 acres of the rugged, rocky and often steep coastline of the Kenai Peninsula. The Harding Icefield, a major part of the park, is one of North America’s largest ice fields.
The variety of whales that migrate to the area in the summer to feed includes orcas in pods, humpbacks, fins and minkes. Dall’s porpoises, Steller sea lions, sea otters and seals populate the waters, too. On land, mountain goats, black bears, moose and more than 80 different species of birds can be found.
Seward is the gateway to the park, and the best way for groups to experience the park’s beauty is by boat. Kenai Fjords Tours has offered wildlife and glacier cruises in Kenai Fjords National Park since 1974.
“Our vessels are designed for wildlife and glacier viewing and accommodate 40 to 150 people,” said Dee Buchanon, director of marketing for CIRI Alaska Tourism. “Groups have a variety of options, including chartering an entire boat for a private tour.”
Day cruises range from four to nine hours. The premium, nine-hour Northwestern Fjord Tour travels farther into Kenai Fjords National Park than any other daily tour and is popular with birders because it visits the Chiswell Islands where the puffins and murres nest. In addition, the only Steller sea lion rookery that can be legally and easily approached is located on the islands.
Several cruises feature a buffet lunch at Fox Island in Resurrection Bay: salmon, prime rib, fresh vegetables, mashed potatoes, rolls and, for an additional charge, a half-pound of Alaskan king crab. There’s also a three-and-a-half-hour dinner cruise to the island.
The Seward Windsong Lodge and its Resurrection Roadhouse restaurant, with views of the Resurrection River Valley, easily accommodate groups for a perfect hub. Groups can take the lodge’s guided hike to Exit Glacier, one of the toes of the Harding Icefield. Still active, the glacier moves forward about two feet per day.