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Kenai Fjords National Park

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Visitors can see everything from bears and murres to sand dunes and salmon.

[by David Shaw]


It’s Denali National Park’s fault I live in Alaska. Fourteen years ago, I accepted a position as a field biologist, banding birds at the far end of the park’s only road. For two months I awoke every clear morning to a view of Denali itself, the Great One rising 20,320 feet into thin air. I was hooked, and have been here ever since.

Two hundred years ago, ice covered most of Kenai Fjords National Park. Today, lush temperate rainforests emerge and along with them a habitat rife with black and brown bears, wolverines, moose, mountain goats, marmots, beavers, and snowshoe hares. Of course, the fjords remain rich with bird and marine life: tufted and horned puffins, oystercatchers, bald eagles, orcas, humpback and gray whales, porpoises, sea otters, and Steller sea lions. Tours heading through Kenai Fjords deliver those sightings and more, including calving glaciers cracking with white thunder, a lasting reminder that the only thing constant in this national park is change. Kenai Fjords was designated a national park in 1980 under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The park encompasses 669,983 acres and provides habitat for several threatened or endangered species including humpback, sei, and gray whales, as well as Steller sea lions. Steller sea lion populations are monitored from the Alaska…