Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise

August 29. This all day cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park was one of the most heavily anticipated things we had planned on our trip, and we couldn't wait. When the day dawned partly sunny after the previous day's soaking rain, we could not believe our good fortune. I am mostly going to let photos do the talking, but it was amazing. We saw bald eagles, sea otters, Steller sea lions, a fin whale, a humpbacked whale, Dall's porpoises, tufted puffins, and horned puffins, among other creatures. The scenery was beyond spectacular, and my photos don't do it justice. I easily could have put 50-60 photos out here, but don't worry - I didn't do that to you! But I was tempted!

The boat had barely left its slip when we saw this bald eagle with an unlucky gull in its talons. Right after this, we saw our first sea otter!
The scenery along the fjord was astounding, with huge mountains rising from the sea.
We had been out an hour or so, when we ran into a great area for wildlife. Within a few feet, we saw rare Steller sea lions hauled out on this rock...
And horned puffins.
Then the boat went out into the choppy Gulf of Alaska - several people got seasick. We saw these amazing black and white Dall's porpoises shooting in front of the boat like torpedoes.
We also saw a fin whale, the world's third largest animal, but I could not get a photo. After a while the boat entered more sheltered waters in another fjord, and the amazing scenery started to pop up again.
In the distance, we saw a huge glacier end its slow journey to the sea.
Then we approached Aialic Glacier, where we were going get as close as possible and watch for a half hour or so.
A curious sea otter obliged for a photo. At one point the millions of otters were reduced to a few thousand because of mankind's greed. The near extinction of sea otters was a major reason that Russia sold Alaska to the USA in 1867 for about two cents an acre. The otters dying out had been like a gold mine going dry.
The groans, snaps, and crashes from the glacier were amazing. When it calved, it sounded like cannon shots. This glacier is something like 600 feet thick where it contacts the sea. It made this good sized boat look like a toy.
I was able to capture two airplanes doing flight seeing in tandem along the glacier's edge. What skilled pilots!
All too soon, we headed back for Seward. I thought this spruce covered rocky island was pretty cool! One can imagine a thin soil slowly building up over thousands of years until trees could survive.
This is Bear Glacier, formed when two glaciers merged. You can see the moraine being squeezed between them to form a dark stripe.
More spectacular mountains and glaciers.
This mountain almost looks like a volcano with the clouds at its peak.
What a day this way! For much of the trip, when Mary asked me "what was your favorite thing so far?" my reply was "The Kenai Fjords cruise." Ultimately though, even this day was surpassed by another experience.


  1. The photos are all spectacular and there is really no words to describe the beauty!! How wonderful for you to be able to take that wonderful vacation!!

  2. Thanks Karen - I am glad you enjoyed them. Yes, I feel very fortunate to take this trip. It was beyond amazing. Art

  3. Wow, what a great opportunity, thanks for sharing. My wife is not an outdoorsy kind of person, but she is nuts for puffins and would love this.

  4. Thanks Les. It was great. My wife is a huge puffin fan as well.