This Alaska Town Has Glaciers You Can Walk To

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As soon as you set foot in this quaint town, majestic glaciers are within easy reach, creating a breathtaking landscape that presents a playground for adventurers like you.

The town is a gateway to experiencing the majesty of Kenai Fjords National Park, where glaciers dominate the landscape, and nearly 51% of the park is covered by ice.

The Harding Icefield, a crown jewel of this region, feeds over 30 named glaciers, including the famous Exit Glacier. This glacier, remarkably accessible to visitors, offers a tangible connection to the ice ages past right here in Seward, Alaska.

The lively harbor bustles with activity as fishermen haul in the day's catch and tour boats depart for wildlife spotting and ice-viewing excursions.

Seward's historic downtown area, with its shops, cafes, and galleries, showcases local artists and offers a taste of Alaskan hospitality.

Your experience in Seward is complemented by comfortable accommodations, ranging from cozy bed and breakfasts to homey cabins, ensuring a restful end to your day's explorations. Continue reading to find out more of what Seward has to offer!

Seward — Your Gateway to Exit Glacier

Hiker in Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward, Alaska

Exit Glacier is the easiest glacier to get to from Seward and offers an incredible opportunity to see a glacier up close.

It's just a short journey away, about 12.2 miles from Seward, which typically takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive under normal conditions, making it an ideal day trip.

What makes Exit Glacier particularly special is how accessible it is compared to other glaciers in the Kenai Fjords — anyone can visit Exit Glacier, no matter their hiking skill level.

You can easily reach it by car, following the signs off the Seward Highway to Herman Leirer Road (also known as Exit Glacier Road), which leads straight to the nature center's parking area.

The parking can be limited, so arriving early or considering alternative transportation like biking or the local shuttle service might be wise.

Your Trail Options

Once you arrive at Exit Glacier, you'll find three different hiking trails waiting to take you through its stunning landscapes. Each trail has its charm, offering various views and experiences of this icy marvel.

1. Glacier View Loop

Ideal for those seeking a leisurely walk with minimal effort, the Glacier View Loop provides a 1-mile easy trail that brings you face-to-face with the awe-inspiring Exit Glacier.

Perfect for families and those looking for a quick yet rewarding outdoor activity, this trail offers an up-close experience with the glacier's beauty.

2. Glacier Overlook Trail

For hikers who are after a bit more of a challenge and want to gain an elevated viewpoint, the Glacier Overlook Trail is a great option.

Stretching for 1.8 miles, this trail offers more elevation than the Glacier View Loop and rewards hikers with stunning views from a higher perspective.

3. Harding Icefield Trail

Harding Icefield seen from the ridge coming up from Exit Glacier with some peaks in the background

Adventurous hikers looking for a full-day trek will find the Harding Icefield Trail to be an exhilarating challenge. This 8.2-mile trail is more strenuous, ascending past the treeline to offer panoramic views of the Harding Icefield, which feeds Exit Glacier.

This trail is recommended for experienced hikers prepared for a significant elevation gain and a longer journey.

More Glacier Explorations At Kenai Fjords National Park

Beyond the popular Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park is ripe with opportunities for glacier discovery. Though not all of them are as accessible by foot as Exit Glacier, there are still lots of cool things to do:

1. Bear Glacier

Bear Glacier Reflection In Kenai Fjords National Park

Bear Glacier, the largest glacier flowing from the Harding Icefield, presents a mesmerizing sight with its vast size. You can marvel at its beauty from afar on a kayak or catch a glimpse as you fly over in a tour plane.

2. Aialik Glacier

close up view of aialik glacier and snow-capped mountain in kenai fjord national park alaska usa

This glacier's dramatic calving events, where ice crashes into the Gulf of Alaska, showcase the dynamic nature of these icy behemoths, observable on boat tours that bring you up close to the action.

3. Holgate Glacier

Beautiful View of Holgate Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

If you love taking photos, this is the place. You can get on a boat tour that takes you right up to it, and if you're lucky, you'll hear the ice crack and see it fall into the water. It's pretty cool and makes for great pictures.

4. Pedersen Glacier

Pedersen Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

Pedersen Glacier offers an intimate glimpse of glacial beauty. It's smaller than its neighbors but equally impressive. The tranquil lagoon in front of the glacier is a serene spot, perfect for contemplation.

5. Godwin Glacier

Aerial view of Godwin Glacier, Alaska

Your heart races at Godwin Glacier as you step onto a dog sled for a thrilling ride across the ice. This glacier provides a unique opportunity to combine Alaskan tradition with stunning icefield views.

Planning Your Glacier Adventures In Seward

To ensure a successful glacier exploration, you'll want to consider the seasons carefully to make your experience memorable. Here's what to keep in mind for your visit.

  • Late Spring to Early Summer (May to June): This period can offer a mix of lingering snow and emerging trails, offering cooler hiking conditions and less crowded paths.
  • Mid-Summer (July to August): The paths to the glacier are more accessible, and you can enjoy the full splendor of the glacier and surrounding landscape. However, this is also the busiest time, so expect more visitors.
  • Early Fall (September): Early fall can be a fantastic time to visit as the crowds start to thin out and the landscape changes colors. The weather can still be pleasant, though temperatures begin to drop, especially towards the end of the month.

On safety, while exploring on your own might seem appealing, aligning with a guided group brings insights and security. Guides are well-versed in the terrain and can share the fascinating history of the glaciers.

More Things To Check Out In Seward

Seward's charm extends far beyond its icy attractions. With many activities to enjoy, here's a list of must-visit spots that promise unforgettable experiences in this quaint town.

1. Explore Downtown & The Small Boat Harbor

Walking downtown, you'll find a vibrant mix of shops and eateries. The Small Boat Harbor is bustling with activity and offers opportunities to see fishermen at work and boats setting sail.

2. Visit The Alaska Sealife Center

Animals in the Alaska Sealife Center

At the Alaska Sealife Center, get up close with local marine life. This research institution and public aquarium provide insights into the diverse species that inhabit the region's underwater world.

3. Stroll Through Waterfront Park & View Murals

Take a leisurely walk in Waterfront Park. The park is a visual treat dotted with engaging murals that bring the town's history and culture to life.

You can learn more about what Waterfront Park has to offer by visiting this TripAdvisor page.

4. Take A Day Or Multi-Day Cruise In Kenai Fjords National Park

Cruise Tour in Kenai Fjords National Park

How about exploring Kenai Fjords National Park with a cruise? It's a fantastic way to see the park's magnificent glaciers, peaceful fjords, and possibly even some local wildlife up close.

We've got our experience cruising around Kenai Fjords that you might find super useful for your next trip. Check out our full guide right here.

5. Sea Kayak At Resurrection Bay

If you're up for a serene, hands-on adventure, paddle out into Resurrection Bay! Kayak and enjoy the unparalleled views and the thrill of navigating these peaceful waters.

6. Go Dog Sledding In Turning Heads Kennel

For a unique adventure, visit Turning Heads Kennel and mush your own dog sled team. This exhilarating experience combines gorgeous landscapes with the thrill of the sport.

Looking for even more fun activities in Seward? Check out this post for a comprehensive list of adventures and experiences waiting for you!

How To Get To Seward

Exploring the breathtaking glaciers near Seward is an unforgettable adventure you don't want to miss out on. This charming town is surprisingly accessible, offering a variety of routes to get you there. Here's how:

1. Drive From Anchorage

You can easily reach Seward by car from Anchorage. The scenic drive takes roughly 2.5 hours via the Seward Highway, offering breathtaking views of mountains and oceans.

2. By Coastal Classic Train By Alaska Railroad

The Coastal Classic Train by Alaska Railroad provides a comfortable and scenic journey from Anchorage to Seward. The trip takes about 4 hours and immerses you in Alaska's stunning landscapes.

3. Through Shuttle Services

For a direct route without the hassle of driving, consider shuttle services from Anchorage. These services offer convenience and are a great way to travel during the peak months of May through September.

4. Fly Into Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC)

Begin your adventure to Seward by flying into Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. From the airport, you can connect to the various transport options available to reach Seward and its magnificent glaciers.

Where To Stay?

Finding the perfect place to rest your head is crucial for any adventure.

In Seward, you're in luck with a cozy lineup of accommodations where comfort meets convenience, all with stunning views and easy access to the majestic glaciers.

Here are our top recommendations:

1. Hotel Edgewater

Step into Hotel Edgewater, where you'll wrap yourself in the warmth and rustic charm Seward is known for. It's right on the edge of the water, offering unmatched views and a serene ambiance.

Perfect for those who want to stay central to the town's quaint shops and restaurants.

Book your stay here.

2. Seward Harbor 360 Hotel

At the Seward Harbor 360 Hotel, wake up to the gentle sound of waves in a spacious room overlooking the harbor.

You'll find yourself mere minutes from the town's historic district, and the hotel boasts amenities that include a heated indoor pool and an on-site tour booking service.

Book your stay here.

3. Gateway Hotel

Gateway Hotel stands as your modern haven amid the natural wonders of Seward. Sleek and contemporary, this hotel promises a refreshing stay with all the essentials covered.

It’s the ideal starting point for your glacier adventures, offering a comforting retreat after a day of explorations.

Book your stay here.

We've got a list of recommended stays in Seward here!

Some Must-Visit Eats!

Exploring the glaciers might leave you hungry, and Seward's local eateries have you covered with various delicious options. Let's check out some of the top places where you can satisfy your cravings.

Seafood: Ray's Waterfront

Ray's Waterfront serves fresh catches daily, boasting a menu that will tantalize your taste buds. You'll taste the ocean in every bite, whether you opt for the succulent king crab legs or the rich, flaky halibut.

Local Food: The Cookery

The Cookery is a must to taste Seward's local flavors. It's not just a restaurant; it's a culinary experience that celebrates local produce and farm-to-table freshness. Their oysters are a local favorite, guaranteed to be a highlight of your visit.

Fine Dining: Chinooks Waterfront Restaurant

Indulge in fine dining at Chinooks Waterfront Restaurant, where elegance meets the sea's bounty. Enjoy their exquisite wine selection alongside a perfectly cooked salmon with views of the harbor that are just as impressive as the menu.

Casual Dining: Smoke Shack

If you're in the mood for a more laid-back atmosphere, check out the Smoke Shack. This cozy eatery specializes in smoked meats and hearty breakfasts that will fuel you for a day of adventure.

Their pulled pork sandwich is a hands-down winner for any meal of the day.

Go Ahead and Enjoy Your Journey Through Seward's Glacial Treks!

Venturing to Seward is a rewarding experience, with its accessible glaciers creating unforgettable memories.

As you head back from the glaciers, allow the experience to sink in. Seward is more than just a pitstop; it's a fusion of wild beauty and adventure waiting for you to enter its realm.

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