When we ask visitors what are the top attractions that bring them to The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground, the most common answers are 1. Mountains, 2. Glaciers, and 3. Wildlife.
And the most beautiful thing about that answer is that it is often a possibility to enjoy mountains, glaciers and wildlife all in the same trip. Amazing, right? Only on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground!
Below we have a list of some of the most amazing glaciers on the Kenai Peninsula that you absolutely MUST visit at least once in your lifetime. Trust us, you will not regret one single moment of your journey.
The Kenai Peninsula extends approximately 150 miles southwest from the Chugach Mountains, south of Anchorage. It is separated from the mainland on the west by Cook Inlet and on the east by Prince William Sound. Throughout this vast land you will find many glaciers.
Glaciers are made up of fallen snow that, over many years, compresses into large, thickened ice masses. Glaciers form when snow remains in one location long enough to transform into ice. What makes glaciers unique is their ability to move. Due to sheer mass, glaciers flow like very slow rivers. Some glaciers are as small as football fields, while others grow to be dozens or even hundreds of kilometers long. Presently, glaciers occupy about 10 percent of the world’s total land area. In Alaska, glaciers cover about 5% of the state.
Portage Glacier is a glacier on the Kenai Peninsula and is included within the Chugach National Forest. It is located south of Portage Lake and west of the small town of Whittier. This beautiful glacier is definitely worth a visit!
Byron Glacier is located in the Portage Valley, about 20 minutes South of Girdwood and an hour from Anchorage. As you drive down the Turnagain Arm, you will find the turnoff for Byron Glacier on the left. Once you hit the trailhead, the hike up to the glacier is about 1.5 miles. This 1.4 mile trail offers an easy walk for all ages. It allows a close-up view of a glacier with rugged, mountains in all directions.
Grewingk Glacier is quite the magnificent find in the Kenai Mountains! This is a 13 mile-long glacier located near Kachemak Bay near the town of Homer, Alaska. The best way to access the glacier is via a water taxi from Homer. From there you can be dropped off near the glacier and can enjoy a day of hiking and exploring deep into the wilderness.
Exit Glacier is a glacier derived from the Harding Icefield in the Kenai Mountains of Alaska and one of the Kenai Fjords National Park’s major attractions. The best part about this amazing glacier is that it is easily accessible to view. With just a short drive from downtown Seward, visitors can hike a short well-traveled trail to a viewing area of Exit Glacier.
Spencer Glacier is located in the Chugach National Forest and is only accessible by train. Hop off the Glacier Discovery train at the Spencer Whistle Stop, and take a 1.3 guided hike to Spencer Lake, and from there you can take the 2.1 mile trail to Spencer Glacier. There are even spots to camp along the trail! If you aren’t interested in hiking, there is a cool rafting trip that you can take to get a beautiful view of Spencer Glacier. This is absolutely a must-do if you are visiting Alaska and don’t have time to get to all of the amazing glaciers that we’ve listed here.
Aialik Glacier is about 15 miles from the town of Seward, Alaska and is the largest glacier in Aialik Bay, located in Kenai Fjords National Park. Glacier calving activity is most active in May and June. Take a cruise from Seward to experience Aialik, or you can go out on your own and experience via the glacier via kayak.
Holgate Glacier is a glacier located outside the town of Seward, Alaska in the Kenai Fjords National Park. It flows outward from the Harding Icefield toward Holgate Arm of Aialik Bay. While it is one of the smaller glaciers in Aialik Bay, Holgate Glacier is still a popular destination to see calving glaciers. And it is actually advancing! Holgate Arm is often filled with ice, but on a good day you can get to a close and safe distance from the glacier.
Pedersen Glacier is an outlet glacier of the Harding Icefield in Kenai Fjords National Park near the town of Seward, Alaska. In the 1980s, the lagoon was designated as the Pedersen Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary, a 1,700-acre sanctuary meant to preserve and protect the area’s wildlife and land.
Godwin Glacier is located outside of the town of Seward, Alaska near the waters of Resurrection Bay. For a once in a lifetime experience, Godwin Glacier is a must-see. And if you’re up for a thrilling experience, you can visit Godwin Glacier via a Glacier Landing excursion with Seward Helicopter Tours.
Bear Glacier, found in Kenai Fjords National Park outside of the town of Seward, Alaska is a tidewater glacier and a popular spot for kayakers. You can also easily see it on a cruise from Seward. With massive icebergs and blue waters, seeing the glacier up close is a thrilling experience. Many people camp on the outer beach near Bear Glacier, and enjoy the glacier views in the background. This is also a great area to check for whales, sea otters, puffins, and other wildlife.
Are you as blown away by these stunning photographs as we are? It’s hard not to fall in love. And just wait until you experience these incredible glaciers in person. The feeling of the crisp air and the sound of the robust calving is quite enchanting. If you haven’t already, be sure to add a visit to some of these amazing glaciers to your 2016 Kenai Peninsula bucket list!
(Note: Although the above pictures are absolutely breathtaking, it is never a good idea to hike on a glacier by oneself, without proper gear, or without training and experience. Glaciers are very slick and can be very dangerous for travel. It is always a better and safer idea to view these gorgeous glaciers from a safe distance. Outdoor guide services are available on the Kenai Peninsula for those wanting to get up close and personal with these beautiful glaciers.)