In the late 1800's, prospectors coming to Alaska
arrived by steamer train to the small port of Seward, blazing trails to
Turnagain Arm to seek their fortune.
The town was born in its modern form in 1903, when a
company seeking to build a railroad north came ashore. They failed,
but Seward was still an important port. The federal government took
over the failed railroad building effort in 1915, finishing the line to
Fairbanks in 1923.
Today, the main reason to go to Seward has been
Resurrection Bay and the access the port provides to Alaska.
Southwest of Seward, following the coastline, is Kenai Fjords National
Park — where mountains and ice meet the ocean. The natives probably
never ventured inland, over the impossibly rugged interior of the Kenai
Peninsula, leaving its heart to be discovered in 1968, when the first
mountain climbers crossed the Harding Ice Field, which covers most of the
670,000 acres of this immense national park. The fjords became a
park only in 1980, when the National Park Service explored more than 650
miles of coastline. Most of the park is remote and difficult to
reach. The most practical way for most people to see the marine
portion of the park is by tour boat - the inland portion only being
accessible at Exit Glacier, near Seward.
Don't miss an opportunity to kayak Resurrection Bay.
From Seward, you can travel by kayak 6 miles down the coastline along
Caines Head State Recreational Area. The overwhelmingly beautiful
coastline scenery is only overshadowed by the wildlife you will see along
the way — majestic bald eagles, playful sea otters splashing alongside
your boat and puffins skimming the water on their lengthy take-offs.
Exit Glacier, and all the glaciers of Kenai Fjords
National Park, flow from the Harding Ice Field, a 1,000-foot-thick ice age
leftover. The ice field lies in a bowl of mountains that jut
straight out of the ocean to heights of 3,000 to 5,000 feet. When
moisture-laden ocean clouds hit those mountains, they drop lots of rain
and snow. Up on the ice field, 40 to 80 feet of snow falls each
Winter. Summer weather isn't warm enough to melt the snow at that
elevation, so it packs down deeper until it turns into the hard, heavy ice
of glaciers and flows downward to the sea.
Kenai Fjords National Park is home to an amazing
abundance of wildlife — humpback whales, sea lions and otters, seals, bald
eagles, puffins, mountain goats and more. A wildlife boat tour is
the best way to experience the beauty of this wildlife and the imposing