When is the best time to visit Kenai Fjords National Park?

The best time to visit Kenai Fjords National Park is in the summer (June to August) when there's plenty of daylight, hiking paths are clear of snow and wildlife activity is high.

Since summers are short in Alaska, hotels and restaurants are busy during these months, but all facilities are open and there are plenty of boat tours and shuttles to take you to the national park and surrounding peninsula.

While the park itself is open year-round, there are reduced services and limited access in the shoulder months of May and September and during the winter when snow makes many of the roads inaccessible to cars.

Best time to visit Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier, Alaska

Exit Glacier is arguably the jewel of Kenai Fjords Nationa Park. The best time to visit Exit Glacier is from June to August when there are regular shuttle services from Seward. This is a great option for those who don't have their own vehicle but want to hike to the ice field. 

There's also limited parking around the Exit Glacier Nature Centre, so it's recommended to use a shuttle or taxi service.  

When snow begins to fall in October/November, the road to the glacier usually closes to cars until May, but you can still get to the area on a snowmobile, fat bike or cross-country skis.

Best time to visit the Harding Icefield

The Harding Icefield Trail is a 6.6km hike rising to 914 metres above sea level. Due to the elevation, there'll likely still be snow in the summer months and conditions can change quickly. The best time to hike this trail is between July and August when the weather is at its best, visibility is higher and there are more daylight hours to explore. 

The trail becomes more hazardous in the shoulder months of May, June, October and November, and even more so during the winter. For winter hikes, you'll need speciality snow equipment and mountaineering experience. Expect avalanche hazards, steep snow-covered slopes and intense weather with high winds and possible storms.


Group in red kayak on the beach in Serward, Alaska

Best for: animal spotting, dry weather and kayaking the peninsula 

Spring arrives in March after a long winter and brings warmer temperatures of -4°C to 13°C. There's usually still plenty of snow on the ground until about mid-April, and it can often turn slushy which isn't ideal for hiking. Daylight hours also increase, with up to 18 hours in May.

With warmer, drier weather, the end of spring is a great time to hit the trails in Kenai Fjords park. You might even be lucky to see newborn moose calves in May, or a mountain goat climbing along the Harding Icefield.

If you're planning on visiting Southcentral Alaska, then it's likely you'll stop by the town of Seward, AKA the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park. While you're there, hop in a kayak to get a different perspective of the Kenai Peninsula.


Sea lions lounging on the rocks in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

Best for: hiking, animal spotting and kayaking

Alaska has snow for up to 10 months per year. June marks the start of summer and the only time of the year without snowfall in the lowlands. However, you'll probably still see snow in higher regions.

Summers never get super hot, with temperatures sitting around 18°C during the day and 10°C at night. There are also up to 19 hours of sunlight in June, making it a perfect time to hike the Kenai Fjords trails and look out over the impressive arctic glaciers and nunatak (lonely peaks) of the neighbouring mountain ranges.

Summer is also the best time for spotting wildlife as many migrating species pass through to enjoy the nutrient-rich waters. Keep an eye out for newborn moose on land and gorgeous seal pups in the water and on the shores.

Kayaking or cruising through the Kenai Peninsula offers some of the best wildlife spotting opportunities. If you visit between mid-July and September, you may also see a salmon spawning stream while kayaking to Tonsina Creek.


Whale breaching the water in Kenai Fjords National park

Best for: mountaineering, humpback whale migration and fewer crowds

Autumn is a pretty short season in Alaska. September still sees up to 12 hours of sunlight, so you can enjoy long days exploring the glaciers, fjords and trails. The start of autumn is a great time to explore lower regions of the park, especially since autumn colours brighten up the valleys and there are fewer people to share the views with.

However, it might be a good idea to prepare for a little rain as September is one of the wettest months with 260mm of rain on average.

Generally, daily highs sit between 1°C and 12°C, while lows can drop to -9°C. There may also be rough seas starting around October/November which can make some coastal areas unreachable.

Snow typically starts falling in October and kicks off a long winter and road closures to the park. Harding Icefield Trail becomes more of a mountaineering route due to snow and ice. Only experienced mountaineers are recommended to attempt it in the shoulder and winter months.


Best for: cross-country skiing, moose spotting and snowshoeing

Alaskan winters can have as little as six hours of daylight and reach lows of -19°C. But with up to 485mm of snow in December alone, Kenai Fjords is perfect for winter sports lovers. From ice climbing and snowshoeing to dogsledding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, there are many activities to enjoy.

January is the coldest month and the road into Exit Glacier is inaccessible to motor vehicles for the duration of the season and into spring. Be sure to check the Kenai Fjords National Park website for the current conditions and motor vehicle regulations before heading out.

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