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Exit Glacier, Seward, Alaska

Alaska: Kenai Peninsula – Exit Glacier

On the last day of our stay on the Kenai Peninsula, the sun finally decided to poke its head out from the clouds. Full of hope we decided this would be a good time to go and explore a place we had wanted to visit all week – the romantically named Exit Glacier. The glacier is actually a National Monument and as we approached the Visitor Centre on the entry road there are markers on the roadside with dates going back into the last century. The markers show where the front face of this glacier was in that year. Exit Glacier is as its name suggests is “exiting” – retreating back up to the Harding Ice Field from whence it came, waiting for the next appearance of global cooling before starting its next march forward. The retreat is inextricable and scarily rapid – we’re just glad to be here to see Exit before it exits.

As always we went to the Visitor Centre first to get the lay of the land and to check out the Junior Ranger program. Emily as ever is enthusiastic to earn her badge, Jack more reticent – sees himself above being a “Junior” Ranger – but as always we bully him into it and as always he is happy to get the badge. We get into a bit of a debate about why glaciers emit a cool blue light and the Ranger is a little miffed when we question his theories so we decided to allow him to wallow in his clouded delusion and take one of the trails.

Our route wiggled through the trees and brush and brought us to the cold, fast-flowing river that is entirely the creation of water melting from the great glacier. The river is narrow in comparison to the flood plain which is covered with smooth, pebble-like stones from a time when the river was much larger or indeed in a different place. We leave the trail to cross the river plane. After leaping over a couple of tiny tributaries we were able to walk right to the face of Exit Glacier. Here you can touch the glacier, observe the crystalline structure and hear the sounds of the glacier; cracking and creaking under the pressure of millions of tons of ice and waters melting into numerous streams that eventually congregate and join to form the river below. We are all stunned by this experience. From the glacier face, we took another trail which brought us to the side of the glacier where you can see the tortured structure of this frozen river – deep crevasses starting at the glacier top surface and dropping down tens of feet. The sunlight penetrates the outer shell of the glacier and is reflected back giving the glacier its steely blue ice colour. This was an almost spiritual experience.

Standing next to the still mighty Exit Glacier
The contorted ice under pressure

Sadly, it was time to leave Exit Glacier – we could have stayed all day but it was also time to leave Seward and head back to Anchorage for one more night. It was a lovely day and the views are spectacular and we made a few stops for photos on the way back – including a few more moose shots. Never have too many of those – at least as far as Emily is concerned. 

Planning your visit to Exit Glacier

Address: 
Website:https://www.nps.gov/kefj/planyourvisit/exit-glacier-area.htm
Telephone: 
Hours:

Open year around

Admission FeesThere is no entrance fee

Best time to visit Seward

The best time of year to go to Seward is summer, between May and September. Although there is plenty to do in the winter, it will be cold and you’ll have fewer hours of daylight. In addition you’ll find that many businesses are closed.

Most businesses are open in Seward from mid-May through mid-September. Some are open a bit earlier or later. The first half of the summer has less rain than the second half of the summer, although you need to be ready for rain any day of the year.

Other things to do whilst in Seward

1. THE IDITARIDE

After spending the previous day at sea we decided to focus our last few days in Steward on terra firma. Since arriving in Alaska and Emily finding out about the existence of kennels for dog sledding huskies that were open to the public, we had been pressurized into visiting one of these establishments. Luckily enough one such place existed close to Seward. Despite this being summer and the snow is long gone this tour also promised us a sled ride – how could we turn down this opportunity. So, we set off to the “Iditaride” Dog Sled tour.

Dog sledding is a big winter sport here in Alaska and the blue riband event of the sledding world is the Iditarod, the largest sporting event in Alaska (which is not saying too much).

2. NORTHWESTERN FJORD CRUISE

Another Alaskan summer’s day – cold with a low dank mist covering the mountains. We had an early start, and we wearily raise ourselves from our slumber, grabbed a quick breakfast from the provisions we bought at the local store and hit the road. The plan was to take a 9 ½ hour boat trip from Seward up the Northwestern Fjord, some 70 odd miles down the coast. The overcast weather put some doubt in our mind on this endeavour, but we had already bought the tickets, so we were committed to the trip.

 

Where to stay in Seward

1. BEAR LAKE LODGINGS B&B

Bear Lake Lodgings B&B has lake views, free WiFi and free private parking, located in Seward.

The units come with hardwood floors and feature a fully equipped kitchen with a fridge, a dining area, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, and a private bathroom with shower and bathrobes. Some units have a seating area and/or a balcony.

An American breakfast is available each morning at the bed and breakfast.

Bear Lake Lodgings B&B has a sun terrace.

After a day of hiking, fishing or canoeing, guests can relax in the garden or in the shared lounge area.

Moose Pass is 21 miles from the accommodation, while Cooper Landing is 26 miles from the property.

2. EXIT GLACIER LODGE

Located in Seward, Exit Glacier Lodge has free WiFi, and guests can enjoy a restaurant and a bar.

If you would like to discover the area, hiking is possible nearby.

Moose Pass is 23 miles from the lodge, while Cooper Landing is 27 miles from the property.

3. SUNSHINE HOUSE BED & BREAKFAST

Featuring free WiFi, Sunshine House Bed and Breakfast offers accommodations in Seward. Free private parking is available on site.

Breakfast is provided daily at the property.

You can engage in various activities, such as fishing and canoeing.

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