The Kenai Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places in Alaska. Located south of Anchorage, folks from all over the world flock to the peninsula to soak in those mesmerizing glacier-covered Kenai Mountains, explore the Kenai Fjords National Park and nearby areas like the Chugach National Forest, Prince William Sound, or even Fox Island. Heck, even the drive along the Seward Highway is one of the most scenic drives in the world!
Known for its numerous glacier-carved fjords, tidewater glaciers, abundant wildlife, and massive ice fields, it’s no wonder the Kenai Peninsula is known as “Alaska’s Playground.” If you plan on spending time exploring the peninsula, and specifically the national park, then you’re in for a treat.
Encompassing 669,984 acres, Kenai Fjords National Park is the ultimate destination for nature lovers, hikers, adventure seekers, and wildlife enthusiasts. And we’ve got all the best tours locked and loaded to help make your visit to Kenai Fjords National Park one you’ll never forget.
The summer months are the most popular time to visit Alaska (especially this part of Alaska), but we’ve also included a winter option that’s worth braving the frigid temperatures for.
It’s important to note that Exit Glacier is the only area within the national park that you can drive to. Anywhere else you want to go within Kenai Fjords National Park, you’ll need to join one of the Kenai Fjords tours.
So which tour should you take? Let’s lay everything out on a handy-dandy table to see everything better:
TL;DR – Best Kenai Fjords National Park Tours
|Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise||Wildlife cruise through Resurrection Bay||4 hours||$146.03|
|Resurrection River Rafting Tour||Guided rafting trip along the Resurrection River||4 hours||$162.32|
|Harding Icefield Trail Hike||Guided hike along the Harding Icefield Trail in the Kenai Fjords National Park||8 hours||$189.90|
|Exit Glacier Hike||Guided hike on Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park||8 hours||$211.12|
|Snowmobile Tour||Snowmobile through the backcountry of Kenai Fjords National Park||2 hours||$194.67|
|Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise||Wildlife and glacier tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park||6 hours||$223.93|
|Glacier Helicopter Tour||45-minute helicopter ride from Seward to both Bear Glacier and Aialik Glacier||45 minutes||$515.00|
|Resurrection Bay Cruise with Fox Island||Cruise through Resurrection Bay with a stop at Fox Island for lunch||5 hours||$129.23|
As you can see, these Kenai Fjords tours can take up your entire day, or at least a good chunk of it, so you’ll want to plan these ahead of time. Since these tours are all outdoors, you’ll want to pay attention to the weather leading up to your booking. With the exception of the rafting tours, all of the cruises offer an indoor option on the boat, so you can escape the winds and rain should the weather take a turn.
Let’s take a closer look at what each tour offers, shall we?
Best Kenai Fjords Tours In Alaska
1. Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise
One of the best ways to see this national park is on the water, and this Kenai Fjords wildlife tour by Major Marine Tours is one of the best Kenai Fjords tours you can take if you’re hoping to see orcas, puffins, and otters.
Keep your eyes peeled on this half-day wildlife cruise through Resurrection Bay and watch for whales, puffins, sea otters, and more, all while taking in the striking scenes of the peninsula. From porpoises to puffins, no two Kenai Fjords cruises are the same, and you never know what wildlife you’ll see.
As you’re watching the water, your captain will teach you everything you need to know about the ecology, geology, and history of the area.
This tour departs from the lobby of the Harbor 360 Hotel in Seward, so if you’re looking to vacation smarter, not harder, book a stay at this hotel for an easy commute from bed to boat. Food and beverages are available for purchase, but feel free to bring your own.
2. Resurrection River Rafting Tour
If you’re a thrill seeker, then you’ll have a blast on this rafting tour by Kenai Backcountry Adventures. This thrilling 4-hour glacial river rafting tour will have your adrenaline pumping as you make your way through the rapids. Don’t worry – these aren’t intense white-water rapids where you’ll risk being ejected from the boat.
As you make your way down the river, you’ll have marvelous views of the beautiful boreal rainforest, towering mountains, and maybe even a waterfall or two. You’ll even be able to see the famous Exit Glacier on your tour! Though this isn’t technically a wildlife tour, you never know when the local wildlife will make an appearance, and that’s always part of the fun.
The tour includes all the essentials you’ll need (rubber boots, rafting gear, a paddle, etc.) plus a decent dry bag for your personal items (you’ll want to keep your phone dry), plus a professional rafting guide every step (or stroke) along the way. On your end, you’ll want to bring sunglasses, warm clothes, and some snacks and water for the journey.
Ground transportation from Seward is available; just let them know what Seward hotel (e.g. Hotel Seward) you’re staying at once you book. While this is a family-friendly tour, it’s not recommended for kids under five, so maybe keep this tour just for the adults in the group.
3. Harding Icefield Trail Hiking Tour
Once you’ve explored the park through the waterways, it’s time to hit the trails. This hiking tour by Kenai Backcountry Adventures will show you the raw, rugged beauty of this insane landscape, one step at a time.
The Harding Icefield is one of the crown jewels of the Kenai Fjords National Park. Clocking in at 700 square miles, it’s only one of four remaining ice fields in the United States and the only one that’s completely in the United States (and not shared with Canada).
The Harding Icefield spawns up to 40 glaciers, including Exit Glacier, which is one of the main attractions here. This 8-hour hiking trail will give you a front-row seat to all the action!
Make no mistake – this all-day hiking trail tour is not beginner-friendly. You’ll need to be at a reasonable fitness level to complete the hike. The terrain is challenging but not impossible and leads to some of the most breathtaking landscapes you’ve ever seen.
While it’s never a guarantee, this tour usually spots some wildlife along the way, and that’s always a lovely little bonus. Bears, moose, marmots, mountain goats, and eagles are just a few of the backcountry critters you have a chance at spotting (from a safe distance) on your way to ancient glaciers.
Along with a professional guide, a deli-style lunch is included in the tours as well as round-trip transportation from Seward.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in Alaska & Things to Do
4. Exit Glacier Ice Hiking Tour
Hiking on glaciers should always be done with a professional by your side, and Kenai Backcountry Adventures will be with you every step of the way on this incredible glacier hike tour. Even though the Exit Glacier is one of the only areas within the park that you can access via car, it’s still worth it to meet up with a guide and take your Kenai Fjords tours to the next level.
This tour is great for all skill levels, and first-timers are welcome. You’ll be given all the proper gear as well as a safety briefing before you head out. This all-day hike takes about eight hours from start to finish, and a complimentary deli lunch is included.
Although it’s a physically demanding day, how often do you get the opportunity to say you hiked on a glacier? It’s a quintessential Kenai Fjords experience and one that will make your Alaska trip one you’ll never forget.
This tour can include a pick-up from one of the select locations within the Seward city limits, or if you have your own transportation, you can meet them at the office in Seward. Lunch is provided, but feel free to pack a few extra water bottles and snacks.
5. Snowmobile Tour of Kenai Fjords National Park
If long days of hiking aren’t your idea of fun, then grab the keys to a snowmobile from Kenai Backcountry Adventures and head off for a day of epic views of Exit Glacier and backcountry trail fun. You’ll have a professional guide with you, and since the snowmobile tour maxes out at ten people, it’s perfect for small groups.
This guided snowmobile tour through Kenai Fjords National Park is suitable for all skill levels and includes a safety briefing and a helmet. Transportation from Seward can be set up in advance, so don’t worry about having to drive in icy conditions. This is a seasonal tour that runs from the middle of November until the middle of April, so make sure to bundle up!
See Related: Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Alaska
6. Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise
If you can’t decide whether you want to join a wildlife cruise or a glacier cruise, then this combo cruise by Major Marine Tours is right up your alley. This six-hour day glacier cruise through Resurrection Bay and the Gulf of Alaska is full of excitement from beginning to end. Visitors aboard this cruise have endless views of the tidewater glaciers, jagged cliffs, and majestic mountains that pepper the rugged coastline, and that’s just on land!
Binoculars are available on board to get up-close views of any marine wildlife nearby, so you can spot whales, steller sea lions, bald eagles, and puffins on your Kenai Fjords cruise through Resurrection Bay. This is the perfect tour for families, and it also includes a complimentary deli lunch inside the heated cabin. Transportation to the cruise port can be set up in advance, but like all of the tours on this list, transportation is limited to just around Seward.
7. Glacier Helicopter Tour
We’ve taken to the water and hit the trails… how about taking to the skies? This Glacier helicopter tour by Seward Helicopter Tours will give you a bird’s eye view as you soar over the landscape, keeping an eye out for wildlife down below.
This one-of-a-kind Alaskan tour includes a 45-minute helicopter ride from Seward to both Bear Glacier and Aialik Glacier, with plenty of mesmerizing waterfalls along the way. This 45-minute helicopter ride may not be the longest tour on the list, but trust me, it’ll give you a completely new perspective of the Kenai Fjords area.
You’ll soar over old-growth forests, Caribbean-blue waters, and an awe-inspiring frozen landscape that’ll leave you speechless. It’s one thing to see this national park on foot or on a cruise…but seeing it from a helicopter is just a whole new world. And you’ll be wearing a nifty headset to complete the look (and to hear the pilot point out sights along the way).
If you have your own transportation, you can meet up in front of their office in Seward, or you can request a pickup from one of their approved locations.
8. Resurrection Bay Cruise With Fox Island Stop
Fox Island is a remote island in Resurrection Bay that’s only accessible by boat. Many flock to this secluded spot to stay at the famous Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge, but if you’re staying elsewhere, then this Kenai Fjords cruise by Kenai Fjords Tours is one of the best cruise options for you.
The five-hour cruise into the Kenai Fjords across Resurrection Bay offers ample opportunities to admire any Kenai Fjords wildlife that are out and about, including Steller sea lions, humpback whales, sea otters, and Dall’s porpoises…and for the bird lovers, don’t worry, you can keep an eye out for bald eagles and puffins, both are known to frequent the area.
As you cruise through Resurrection Bay, you’ll have a great view of Bear Glacier before arriving at Fox Island, where you’ll be able to walk around the island and enjoy lunch on Fox Island before heading back to the Seward Small Boat Harbor. The Gateway Hotel is just steps away from the harbor, so if you’re in search of a place to stay near the boat harbor, this is it!
The beach along Fox Island is known to be a great spot for skipping stones, so try it out! Who knows, you might be a natural! Or, at the very least, start a friendly competition with your travel companions. The person who can get the most skips buys dinner!
Where to Stay in Seward
Seward, Alaska, is one of the best launching points to begin your Kenai Fjord National Park Tour, and there are plenty of places to say in Seward. Whether you’re looking to stay in the city center close to all of the action or a secluded little lodge with beautiful views, you’ve got plenty of options.
Many of the Kenai Fjord tours offer pick-up from your hotel, which is always our preferred method. Roll out of bed and onto the bus!
Speaking of where to stay, if you’re up for a true adventure, make your Alaska trip one you’ll never forget and book a stay at the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge on the remote Fox Island. Surrounded by Ressurection Bay, this remote hotel I stayed at is only accessible via a 12-minute boat ride, which is provided when booking.