Kenai Fjord National Park Cruises

When in Alaska, one can often times be at the mercy of the weather.  Those of us who live here know that since there is so much of Alaska, one can always go far enough to find a sunny spot.  But even with web links to satellite photos showing cloud patterns over the state, there are times when veteran adventurists get caught in the rain.  After traveling so far, we still need things to do.  On a particularly rainy day in Seward, we thought a day cruise would be just the thing.

To find the cruise operators, head into Seward on the Seward Highway.  Park near the small boat harbor on the left side of the road.  Kiosks for the different tours will be located near the ramps down to the docks.

Going on a wildlife cruise was not the best choice.  We thought, why not stay indoors, but see some wildlife and beautiful rugged coastline?  We got all that and much more.  We paid no additional charge for swells on the Harding Gateway so big that the 85 foot boat’s keel would smash with a thunderous boom against the water before the next wave picked us right back up.  This was the first time I had ever experienced seasickness.  The crew was wise enough to realize that an entrance to the Gulf of Alaska could be disastrous, and so we turned what was normally a full day cruise into a half day cruise, visiting the protected coves and bays along the Fjords.  Seward is not known for sunshine.  It is a northwest coastal rainforest.  If you find yourself looking up into a cloudless sky while visiting Seward, you have been truly blessed.

The wildlife is bountiful.  Within five minutes of the harbor on our way out we saw Glaucous-winged Gulls, Sea Otters, Bald Eagles, Double Crested Cormorants, Arctic Terns and a formidable air force of Black Legged Kittiwakes feeding on the biomass from fish processing.  Through the tour we spotted numerous mountain goats perched upon ledges few other animals would brave.  Many of the mountain goats had their newborn kids with them learning to walk along the treacherous cliffs.  The black bears comb the beach below for falling animals, as this is an easy lunch for an animal that has nothing on its mind but filling a hibernation starved stomach with whatever falls before it.

The captain of the boat took us quite near a rock covered with Stellar Sea Lions. 

The geology of the fjords is remarkable.  As your cruise takes you along the high cliff walls, you will read the history of a great love story between the North American and Pacific tectonic plates.  No my friend, mammals are not the only things on this earth that rise to 45 degree angles or more.

If you love waterfalls, there will be little disappointment if you are a spring traveler.  Snow melting from atop the mountains surrounding the fjords trail into dozens of white cascades along the route.  The Kenai Fjords truly are a picture book fairytale scene.

Last visited: May 1999

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