Exit Glacier is a massive and active glacier that is located in the Kenai Mountains of Alaska. It is one of the Kenai Fjords National Park’s major attractions and served as the “exit” for the first recorded crossing of the Harding Icefield in 1968. Exit glacier is one of the easiest accessible valley glaciers in Alaska and gives you the opportunity to visit it from different viewing points.
This glacier is one of those sites to visit before it disappears. Exit Glacier has been a visible indicator of climate change in Alaska and is an example of glacial recession. It retreated approximately 187 feet from 2013 to 2014 and you can see markers of the recession while on your hike. Over the years, park scientists have continued to monitor and record the glacier’s accelerating recession.
— Getting to Exit Glacier —
Exit Glacier is located in the Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, with the closest city being Seward. It is a quick drive from the center of town and only about a 10-15 minute commute. Once you arrive to the Visitor’s Center, you will find plenty of parking spaces. Although, I do recommend to arrive before 9:00 AM because the parking lot can fill up later in the day.
The best time to hike to the Exit Glacier Overlook or the Harding Icefield Trail is in the morning. This is a very popular hike for those visiting Seward and the earlier the better for uninterrupted views. There are a couple of viewing locations and we did both, the Glacier View from below and the Exit Glacier Overlook which required more of hike.
Both views were fantastic and if you are capable of doing the moderate hike, I would suggest to make your way to the top Overlook first. The amount of people that arrive during mid-morning can be disruptive if you enjoy a quiet hike. By the time we were heading back down from the top overlook, there were a large amount of people coming up the trail and swarming the parking lot.
Hopefully you will get to see Exit Glacier before it melts away although that will take some time. This glacier used to be massive and further down into the valley, but you can only see a sliver of it now. This put into perspective what global warming or temperature change, whatever you believe, is doing to Alaska and other countries.
Exit Glacier was an extraordinary learning experience of the forces of nature and the current climate changes. I hope you enjoy your visit here and your hike, it will definitely get your blood circulating in the morning!
For more information, please visit Exit Glacier Area – Kenai Fjords National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
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