Planning a great Alaskan adventure can be a challenge. There are so many things to do, especially in Kenai Fjords National Park, it can be hard to narrow down the possibilities and find the best options for your schedule and budget. There is no need to worry though, one of the many great things about Alaska is you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a great experience. Even for the most frugal travelers, there are plenty of amazing things to see and do.
The National Park has one campground inside the park. They do not take reservations so it operates on a first come, first serve basis. The park has a couple of public use cabins that can be reserved during the summer. Nightly the price is $75 and they can be reserved for a maximum of three days. The cabins are pretty deep in the park and don’t have any road access so to reach the cabins, you have to find your own transportation. Air Taxis, charter boats or if you happen to have a boat of your own, you can get there, but if you are like us and want to be more economic there are cheaper options. For the majority of our stay, we camped at an amazing free site just outside Seward. The site is right next to the Resurrection River, in the woods and offers a lot of privacy. R.V. parks are also a good option for camping, even with no R.V. since there is usually a showering facility and the price generally ranges from $15-$30.
Everybody has heard of Alaskan salmon, but if you haven’t seen what that means in person I would recommend making an effort to do so. We didn’t realize when we planned the trip that summer is salmon spawning season. It was an experience nobody could have prepared us for. Any fishing enthusiast would be in paradise being in Alaska during this season. The water was so full of fish Andres was actually able to pluck one out of the water with his bare hands. Even cooked over our campfire with nothing but a little salt, it was the best fish we have ever had. All the fish attract bears so it’s important to be careful and always carry bear spray. We were able to get some amazing photos of bears while they were distracted wrestling and fishing. You’ll need a fishing license and poles, or just the license if you’re as talented as Andres.
Get out on the water
The best way to experience Kenai Fjords National Park is by boat. Almost all of the 38 glaciers in the park are accessible only by boat. Fortunately, there are a lot of companies to choose from for tours with the rates starting around $150 for an adult and $75 for a child. The link above is one of many companies that offer tours. Different cruises offer different levels of amenities, most offer lunch and some have park rangers on board to guide the tour. During the summer these tours depart daily, some all day and some for half the day. You should call ahead to reserve a spot. Kayaking is also very popular in this park. Bear Glacier Lagoon offers access to the biggest glacier in the park and plenty of smaller ones.
There is one main trail through the park that branches into other trails. Most of these trails lead to different viewpoints of Exit Glacier. A very short, easy hike leads to a nice viewpoint of the Glacier. We went for the longer hike up to the side of the glacier and a bit farther on the Harding Icefield Trail. The Harding Icefield Trail is 8 miles roundtrip and is much more strenuous. There is a lot of wildlife in the park to keep an eye out for. Our hike ended with a giant mama moose and her calf standing not 10 ft. from us in the middle of the trail. We also spotted a black bear and plenty of marmots.
There is an amazing sea life center in Seward Alaska. Tickets are $25 for an adult which gives access to the aquarium. You can see otters, puffins, octopi, seals, lots of fish, and birds. They allow visitors to participate in feedings for an additional $25. For an additional $75 you can even go in for a close encounter, but this should be booked in advance.
Alaska is a playground for sportsman of all stripes. The appeal to the fishing community is pretty obvious, but something widely overlooked by tourists is the opportunity to go clamming. Clamming is a very fun, hands-on sport with little preparation and lots of reward. The best season is early summer and all you need to do is get a $20 permit, a bucket, and something to dig with. Buying a clam gun will make things much easier than using a regular shovel. Most of the clams you’ll chase are more experienced diggers than you and will surprise you with their speed.
Traveling in Alaska doesn’t have to break the bank. Most of the really amazing things to experience here are in the outdoors. In Alaska being out for even just a little while can result in a close encounter with an animal. We came across lynx, bears, moose, marmots, and plenty of eagles. Kenai Fjords National Park has amazing wildlife and sporting opportunities and I would recommend a visit to anyone with the chance. Thank you for reading and be sure to join us next time when we fly into Lake Clark National Park.