Kenai Fjords National Park


8 Reasons to Visit Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area by Robert Manning When President Ronald Reagan dedicated America’s first National Heritage Area in 1984, he announced that this and other NHAs to come would be “a new kind of national park.” The purpose: to preserve areas of the United States that reflect distinctive regions’ sense of place, including natural and cultural history, and offer outstanding visitor attractions, recreation, and educational opportunities. Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area (Kenai Mountains) is the only national heritage area in Alaska, established in 2009, and is located on the Kenai Peninsula. Extending 150 miles, the peninsula is bordered on the west by Cook Inlet and on the east by Prince William Sound. Kenai Fjords National Park includes stunning coastal scenery.  While national parks are generally large areas of public lands managed by the National Park Service (NPS), NHAs are a mix of public…

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…