Bear Glacier
Bear Glacier

Bear Glacier

Seward, Alaska, 99664

The basics

While it’s only about 12 miles (19 kilometers) southwest of Seward, the glacier is best seen from the water on cruises or guided kayaking trips. Cruises are safest and tend to explore the glacier and other parts of the national park while stopping to spot whales, puffins, and otters. Kayakers should know that the route is challenging and often shrouded in fog—going with a guide and booking a water taxi to shorten the trip from Seward are highly recommended. Other options include flyovers or simply camping nearby.

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Things to know before you go

  • Visitors must carry out all human waste and store food in bear-resistant containers; bear lockers are not available.

  • Fires are allowed in the park but must be built below the high-tide line using dead or downed wood.

  • Glaciers can break at any moment—kayakers should consistently stay at least .5 miles (.8 kilometers) from the face of any glacier.

  • Walk-in tent campsites near Exit Glacier are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Otherwise, camping is in the backcountry.

  • Kenai Fjords National Park has a small number of bookable cabins available year-round.

  • The Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center in Seward, the Exit Glacier Nature Center, and their restroom facilities are wheelchair accessible.

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How to get there

Seward, Alaska, is the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park. From there, the glacier is accessible via only the sea and air. Options include tours or chartered boat trips and sea kayak expeditions, usually with a guide and the proper equipment. Helicopters and planes from Seward or Anchorage give unique aerial perspectives of the glacier, the surrounding lagoon, and the national park.

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When to get there

Kenai Fjords National Park is open year-round, but becomes difficult to explore during the winter, with heavy snowfall, reduced services, and some roads closed to traffic. The best time to visit is from June to August. The park has reduced services in May and September, and the coastal backcountry becomes inaccessible from late fall through early spring due to rough seas.

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Kenai Fjords National Park

Along with Bear Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park is home to the Harding Ice Field and many other glaciers—more than 800 square miles (2,070 square kilometers) of ice. Visitors can view the massive tidewater glaciers, hike scenic trails, camp, and spot wildlife such as whales, otters, puffins, seals, moose, bears, and bald eagles, while taking kayaking and boating excursions. A starting point is the visitors center in Seward; from there, head to Exit Glacier, the most accessible glacier in the park.

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