Hey Adventurers! This entry will be pretty critter heavy and if you are catching this entry and haven’t caught part 1, and want to, go ahead and check that out here! (This entry will be independent of that one, fyi). I had just arrived in Anchorage, visited Seward and taken a boat tour where this entry picks up. The morning of day 3 I got up super early; the sunrise was like 4.30 AM after all! This was the start of my hiking in the national park.
You can check out my experiences of Kenai Fjords National Park here! It’s a nifty park, rather low attended in the grand scheme of things, but actually one of the most visited in Alaska. The park showcases, of course, some beautiful Fjords and also the famed Exit Glacier.
After finishing up my hikes at Kenai Fjords I headed back to Seward proper to check out the Alaska Sealife Center. You might have seen this place featured in every episode of Alaska Animal Rescue on Nat Geo or Disney Plus. Wait, what? Am I the only one who watches all the Alaska shows? 😉 This is a neat spot and although small, I’d say it’s a must see! The animals here are injured or sick and the goal is to rehab them and release them back into the wild. They have puffins, other fowl, Alaska fish, seals, sea lions, otters…all kind of cute critters! Did you know sea lions have ears and seals don’t? I didn’t! And I got to get some awesome pictures of one sea lion that I swear knew her picture was being taken and was posing for me! Super cool! Afterward, I stopped by the Seward Brewing Company for a pretzel and some beer. Honestly, this brewery is ranked pretty low in Alaska and the bartender at the alehouse the previous day didn’t speak well of it, but I thought it was ok! Afterward, I drove around a bit and then the magic for this trip really began to happen!
The other side of Resurrection Bay across from Seward has roads and some development. I saw a beach on the map and decided to make a stop. At this point I had been in Alaska for 48 hours and had yet to see any of the desired land based critters! But there it was! Finally, a MOOSE. In a lake. Not close. From the car. Perfect. I snapped my pics and moved on. I meandered my way to that beach. This was not a beach. Maybe in Alaska, but not in Florida. It is more of a tidal area, but it was BUSY. This is a popular fishing area and the peeps were out in droves. And then I saw the bald eagle just chilling on a sand bar off yonder. Unfortunately, my water resistant hiking shoes are only ankle high and there was about 2 feet deep water separating me from a better views of said eagle. So, cold and soaked feet later I was as close as I wanted to get to the bird. And then I noticed about 3 or 4 others started swooping all over this area harassing other birds. They were flying all over the place. How cool!
At this point I was pretty content with wildlife sightings but there were more to come! On the drive back to the main road I found another bald eagle hanging out in some trees. I finished the Seward area with a stop back at the national park both on this evening and the next morning and had some awesome moose and grizzly experiences . All of this and only 2 and a half days!
After seeing the furry bear kids, I departed Seward and drove up to a place called Cooper’s Landing to check out the brewery there. The beer was quite tasty and had some good food, but other than some lodges and fishing opportunities, this is a pretty small town with not much going on. There is river rafting there however, and I kinda wish I had known that ahead of time, so here it is, heads up! Then I headed toward my next adventures at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and to Portage Lake.
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is another location featured on every episode of that Nat Geo show! The animals here are not to be released. None of these animals would survive in the wild for one reason or another; for instance, the bald eagle here has one wing. Sad, but I am happy that the critters all have a safe spot to live out their days! The location of this place is perfect! It is right off the Seward Highway at the very end of Turnagain Arm. In case you are wondering, they have moose, elk, bison, brown and black bears, musk ox, bald eagle, lynx, black tail deer, porcupine, wolves, and coyotes!
Just past the center is the split in the road that goes off to Portage Lake and Whittier instead of into the Kenai Peninsula. Portage Lake is stunning. It is easily visible from the main road, but there is an offshoot road that goes into a parking area for a lake cruise landing. I did not do that cruise, but I did walk in that area to take in the views of the lake! Near this spot is Byron Glacier. There is a relatively simple and flat hike that follows a creek into a valley where you can see what remains of the glacier that carved this section. Again, despite the extreme warmth of the air, the last bit of this hike was covered in a few feet of snow. I went out as far as I was comfortable, which was not nearly as far as the people out there before me who actually crossed the big creek via snow bridge (at 75 degrees mind you)…but I have some (I think) sense, so I hung back and took in my views from a safe distance. Portage Lake itself is a glacial lake that was not even visible until 100 years ago!
I began the beautiful drive back to Anchorage. I did make another stop in Girdwood for beer, and to repeat a hike from 2017! In 2017 I found a cool waterfall in Girdwood. The hike is pretty steep but not long and has quick and awesome payoffs! This is rainforest land here and the difference in temperature from next to the creek versus only 10 feet away is nuts! Anyway, I highly recommend if you are in Girdwood!
And with that it was back to Anchorage to prepare for the last two days! Stay tuned for part three (I promise the last part!)