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Northwestern Fjord Day Trip

Quick Details

Person
$500

The Best-Kept Secret in Kenai Fjords National Park

  • Minimum number of people: Two
  • Head out at 6 a.m. and return at 6 p.m. (possibly later depending on the day’s schedule!) on a full-day, fully guided/outfitted kayaking trip to Kenai Fjords National Park, a wild and rugged beauty.
  • Watch avalanches, calving glaciers, baby harbor seals, humpback whales, and so much more. This is the least commercially frequented area in the Kenai Fjords, and we think you’ll love the solitude and rawness of the gripping landscape!
  • A two-hour boat ride brings you, your guide, and all catered equipment over 50 miles out into the wilds of the Kenai Fjords National Park System! Get dropped off for a full, eight-hour day exploring the park, just you and your guide!
  • Group sizes always kept small — six clients to guide ratio
  • No experience necessary, all kayaking is done in double sea kayaks, all gear is provided.  Please remember that kayaking is a physical activity, and this is a very physical day!

Return to geologic antiquity with our Northwestern paddle. Cruising aboard our custom-built high-speed landing craft, we take a two-hour ride through the Kenai Fjords National Park to Northwestern Lagoon. On the water taxi ride from Seward, we commonly stop to view sea otters, Dall’s porpoise, Steller’s sea lions, bald eagles, humpback whales, and orca. Puffins and sea birds are also abundant as we pass through the Chiswell Islands, the most prolific roosting grounds in the region.

The boat ride alone is an adventure as we traverse the vast beauty of the Gulf of Alaska. The day continues as we cross the submerged terminal moraine of Northwestern Glacier (a full 8.75 miles from the current face of the glacier!) and into Northwestern Lagoon, where the ocean depths shoot from over 400 feet on the outside to 24 feet at the crossing, and then down to 600 feet on the other side of the moraine! Mountains scoured by recent glacial recession shoot out of the water in every direction, and the staggering landscape is immersed in ice and wildlife. Enjoy opportunities to view black bears, coastal birds, and a host of marine mammals over the whole course of your trip — not just on the sea kayaking portion!

Here you disembark, where a rugged coastline folds into five sizeable glaciers for a full-day excursion. You and your group explore the park, moving from place to place with the goal to circumnavigate Striation Island in a roughly 10 to 15-mile journey, depending on the group’s speed and intentions (the average double kayak travels about 3 mph). Trips travel at the pace of your group, so whether you’d like to cover as much ground as possible or rest on a beach with your journal or camera, we work to accommodate you! Your biggest concern may very well be explaining the feeling you have when a piece of glacier the size of your home falls into the ocean in front of you, throwing up waves riddled with floating icebergs and dotted with pupping harbor seals.

Group sizes for these excursions always remain small unless you have a larger group and wish to remain together. Trip sizes max out at 14 persons per the National Park regulations, so groups larger than 12 will need to be split up into separate camps to minimize the impact on the park. All excursions practice Leave No Trace wilderness ethics, and we are happy to accommodate all diets. In fact, our operational capacity in Northwestern is more economically priced and logistically able than any other outfit in our area.

Please be sure to inform us if you have medical or dietary restrictions. Feel free to bring your own snacks! We work hard to accommodate everyone’s diet, but if there’s something special you like to have, bring it along!

Gratuities are not included in the original sale price, and guide tips are greatly appreciated!

We do reserve the right to be flexible — marine weather and logistics can delay things or require an earlier pick-up. Keep in mind they are boats, not trains, and we have to heed the demands of the ocean from time to time.

So what’s the difference between Aialik and Northwestern?

NOAA Chart Northwestern 1932-2002

The image above was compiled from NOAA historical chart databases to illustrate that since 1932, the face of Northwestern Glacier has retreated over 9 miles in the last 85 years. The Northwestern Fjord area wasn’t even charted until the 2002 NOAA charts were released, with the space simply reading, “The upper part of Harris Bay is usually filled with floating ice.” This is a really incredible place, folks.

The Tidewater Glaciers in Northwestern are more vertical than the tidewater glaciers in Aialik. While Aialik is expansive and gorgeous as well, the glaciers are massive and slowly lope up valleys. In Northwestern, the glaciers shoot straight up the cliff sides to the Harding Icefield. We see alpine calving, avalanches, and a lot of very raw, recently exposed country. The lush rainforests that bridle the glaciers in Aialik Bay are nowhere to be found here, not having had the time to encroach on the rapid recession of Northwestern’s giants.

Quotes & papers about Northwestern from around the Internet:

“…Oswald, who pilots watercraft on the firm’s summer projects, uses the example of the Northwestern Glacier just west of Resurrection Bay. “There are areas above water now that were not even visible 50 years ago,” he said.

LCMF crews found tidal benchmarks surveyed in the 1912 in Camp Cove that are now submerged, and another area called Striation Island in the Northwestern Fjord that was under ice 50 years ago — proof that Alaska coastlines are changing.” … ( “Agency looks to private engineers to chart Alaska’s depths” )

…”The terminus of the Northwestern Glacier, a tidewater glacier, did not change much from 1973 to 1986, but moved back quite dramatically between 1986 and 2002. The terminus of the unnamed glacier that is located southeast of the Northwestern Glacier and flowing toward Striation Island in Northwestern Lagoon, is currently land based, and is shown in Figure 5 to have receded and broken up dramatically from 1973 to 2002″ – Katmai National Park and Preserve, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Lake Clark National Park and Preserve” which additionally states Northwestern receded 4200 meters between the 1950s and the 1990s!)

    Cancellations & Rescheduling