For many Alaskans, the best thing about living in the Last Frontier is the easy access to diverse landscapes and the seemingly endless opportunities to explore. That's exactly what makes the rugged coasts, glaciers, peaks and forests of Kenai Fjords National Park the perfect place for an in-state getaway. It's a quick trip from Anchorage and the Mat-Su region, and yet it can feel invigoratingly new each time you visit.
Established as a national park in 1980 and measuring a whopping 607,000 acres (which is actually small by Alaska standards), Kenai Fjords is the quintessential coastal Alaska destination.
Here, where the Gulf of Alaska pushes its way up into southcentral Alaska, is the ultimate adventure playground for locals and visitors. And for many of the lucky people who live in Alaska, it's become an annual trip to get down to Seward and break free in Kenai Fjords.
As the ancient glaciers forged the deep fjords of the Kenai Peninsula, wildlife settled in a thriving habitat. Whales, harbor seals, Steller sea lions and sea otters roam the waters. More than 20 species of seabirds, including puffins and eagles, soar above. And on land, bears, moose, coyotes and mountain goats cohabitate in a land of abundance.
Of course, such a stunning natural environment brings out characters. Modern Seward locals love to share stories of past residents who formed the pioneer spirit of this place. There's also the legendary over-winter of iconic artist Rockwell Kent, and countless other renegades who found freedom to truly be themselves here in the Kenai Fjords.
"Resurrection Bay" by Rockwell Kent. Courtesy of the Anchorage Museum, 1973.003.001.
Seas that range from placid to stormy, hiking trails as diverse as a stroll in the woods and a ragged summit — there's adventure at every turn here. Paddle Resurrection Bay, trek to the Harding Icefield, spot whales at the Northwestern Fjord or go fishing for halibut and salmon out at sea. Alaskans have a ton of fun exploring and connecting — both with the landscape and with each other — on and beyond the coastline.
It's worth the short drive from Anchorage just to snap that stellar photo of a whale breaching, or of an eagle soaring above the pines. Photographers love this region of Alaska for the vast topography, bright hues, busy wildlife and varied subject matter.
Maybe it's all the rain that forges such strong bonds — Seward is full of passionate people united by a love for this place. People here genuinely care about the incredible environment where they live and work. From marine science non-profits and athletic clubs to arts and culture, the community is vibrant and committed. You’ll also find no shortage of great restaurants, coffee shops and lodges in town!
In the heart of Resurrection Bay lies a small island that's wonderfully picturesque and blissfully remote. Just 12 miles from Seward, this is a place locals come back to time and time again for accessible isolation. Spend the night at Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge and you'll get that “this is why I live in Alaska!” feeling all over again.
Local Alaskans know that spring and fall are prime times to visit Seward and the coast of southcentral Alaska. The lovely long days of summer are not to be missed, either. So do the Alaskan thing and make a trip to Seward. You won't be disappointed!