Kenai Fjords National Park and Seward, Alaska Quick Guide


Harding Icefield in Kenai Fjords National Park

Seward, Alaska, located about 2 hours southwest of Anchorage, is the entry to Kenai Fjords National Park.  This national park is well-known for it’s hiking, most notably the Harding Icefield trail, and vast wildlife.  We recommend spending 2-3 days in Seward to allow enough time to explore the park.  Here is our quick guide on Seward, Alaska and Kenai Fjords National Park. 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!


What to do in Seward


Hike Harding Icefield Trail in Kenai Fjords National Park

Harding Icefield View in Kenai Fjords National Park

This is truly the hike of a lifetime.  If you only do one hike in Alaska, do this one.  Not only is it unforgettable for us because of the pristine and diverse scenery along the trail but also because it is the trail where we got charged by a bear.  See Top 5 Most Picturesque Alaska Hikes and What you can Learn from Being Charged by a Bear in Alaska posts for more details. 

This hike is 8.2 miles round trip with 3,812 feet of elevation gain. Add a mile if you hike to the base of glacier before or after.

Views hiking up to the Harding Icefield

Looking for great hiking boots?  Here are links to the ones we’ve used for 6+ years and highly recommend: Men’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots & Women’s Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots


Visit the base of Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park

As an alternative or in addition to hiking the Harding Icefield trail, you can hike a shorter, less than 1 mile, trail to the base of Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park.  As you hike on this trail, it is very interesting, yet sad,  to see the Glacier recession points over time.  

Base of Exit Glacier

Kenai Fjords National Park Boat Tour

Active Glacier onboard our Kenai Fjords National Park Boat Tour

Other than hiking the Harding Icefield trail and visiting Exit Glacier, take a boat trip is the best way to access Kenai Fjords National Park.  On our 6 hour day tour, we saw an active glacier as well as a lot of wildlife including orca whales, humpback whales, puffins, sea lions, seagulls and sea otters.  No wildlife sightings are guaranteed but the tour companies–through knowing the areas well, using binoculars and communicating with other ships in the park–make their best effort to find as many sightings as possible.  There are several different companies you can use for a tour but Major Marine tours has some of the best online reviews and is the only one with a National Park Ranger aboard. 

Wild Sealions in Kenai Fjords National Park

Major Marine Kenai Fjords National Park Boat Tour

Tip: We recommend doing a full day tour that goes further out into the national park, past the protected Resurrection Bay waters.  You get to go to an active glacier and are more likely to see wildlife on these longer tours.  However, if you easily get motion sick, like Natalie, you may consider doing a half day tour that stays within the protected waters.  Natalie did feel queasy at times on the full day tour, but she felt the motion sickness was worth the extra wildlife and glacier views. 


Hike to Vagt Lake

Vagt Lake outside of Seward, Alaska

This trail was so serene and felt untouched by human activity.  The trail takes you through a beautiful forest before bringing you to the secluded Vagt lake.  While hiking on this trail, we saw no other people but certainly thought we were going to see a bear with how much bear scat we saw along the trail and the heavy foliage around the trail. Make sure you are very “bear aware” here.  (See What you can Learn from Being Charged by a Bear post.)  This out and back hike is about 3.2 miles and there is an option to loop around the lake that totals a little over 4 miles.

View from where you park to hike the Vagt Lake trail

Tip: This trail was exceedingly hard to find.  It is not marked on google maps, not in the All Trails App and there are no signs on the Seward Highway to indicate where to exit to get to it.  If you google Vagt Lake, the trailhead slightly south of the lake and just off the Seward hiking, south of Lower Trail Lake.  It may take a bit of searching to find the trailhead but we think it is worth it.

Vagt Lake Hike


What/Where to Eat in Seward


Fresh Salmon

We got some fresh, locally caught salmon from the grocery store in Seward which we prepared at our Air B n B cabin.  This salmon was so fresh and delicious, we highly recommend buying locally caught fish. Since our Air B n B had a full kitchen, we did not eat any meals out in Seward so we do not have any restaurant recommendations here. 

Tip: We really enjoyed having a full kitchen and being able to make our own food, especially after some long days of hiking. We recommend accommodations where you can do your own cooking.  


Where to Stay in Seward


Cabin Mile Marker 23

Cabin outside of Kenai Fjords National Park

This Airbnb was one of our favorites.  This cabin felt remote but was located right off of the main Seward highway, about 20 minutes from Seward to the north.  We found this to be the perfect place to unwind and cook after some long days of hiking and exploring Kenai Fjords National Park.

Book your first Airbnb using this link for up to $65 off your first stay

Airbnb Cabin Mile Marker 23


We hope this post helps you plan your trip to Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park.  Anything else you’d add to our guide?  We’d love to hear your feedback or questions.  Please leave us a comment! For more Alaska information, please see Alaska Road Trip: The Perfect Guide.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *