seward/kenai fjords national park

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Seward is 127 miles South of Anchorage and has a population of 3,000 in the winter and 10,000 in the summer. It was named for William H. Seward, the man responsible for the purchase of Alaska. Seward sits at the head of Resurrection Bay and is considered the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park.Some of the main events held in Seward are the annual 4th of July celebration; which includes the world famous Mt. Marathon foot race. This is a grueling race straight up 3,022 feet to the top of Mt. Marathon and back down. The race began as a bet between two sourdoughs to determine if a person could go to the top and back in under an hour. The men who ran did not make it in that time but today the record time is 43.5 minutes.Each year, during the silver salmon run in Resurrection Bay, the city of Seward tags several silver salmon. Then in August the silver Salmon Derby is held. The prize money for the tagged fish, if caught, ranges from $500 to $100,000. This derby attracts more than 12,000 people to the weeklong event.During the winter months Seward holds the Polar Bear Jump Off. This is a weekend event that includes a jump into the icy waters of the Seward small boat harbor to raise money for cancer research.Kenai Fjords National Park was established in 1980 and encompasses approximately 580,000 acres along the coastline of the Kenai Peninsula.The Harding Icefield is a major part of Kenai Fjords National Park and is the largest Icefield on the North American continent. It covers over 300 square miles of the park. Snow and ice accumulation has made the Icefield thousands of feet thick in places. There are at least 40 major outlet glaciers throughout the park.Holgate Glacier, a tidewater glacier, is easily viewed by daily boat excursions. Exit Glacier is the park’s only glacier accessible by road. It is a short distance from Seward, only nine miles off the Seward Highway.Kenai Fjords National Park boasts an abundance of marine and land wildlife. Humpback whales, orcas, Dall’s Porpoise, Steller sea lions, sea otters, seals, mountain goats, black bears, and moose, along with more then 80 different species of birds populate the Park.A full array of tours are offered into Kenai Fjords National Park. This area is considered one of the top wildlife & glacier viewing destinations in the State. A variety of cruise options are available through Kenai Fjords Tours ranging from a three hour cruise of Resurrection Bay for $56/adult, to a 9+ hour Northwestern Fjord Cruise at $149/adult. The most popular cruise is the National Park Tour, which has several daily departures for $109/adult. Or enjoy the National Park Tour with a salmon bake on Kenai Fjords Tours’ exclusive Fox Island for $125/adult.A land-based option is the Alaska SeaLife Center tour. The Alaska SeaLife Center is the only cold-water research facility of its kind in the country. This 50 million-dollar facility opened in 1998, and leads efforts in exploring new ways to protect the resources of the sea. The self-guided tour gives you the opportunity to meet local marine wildlife and have a chance to learn about their ocean environment.Kenai Fjords National Park headquarters and Visitors’ Center is located at Seward’s small boat harbor. The Visitor’s Center offers a photo exhibit, slide programs, natural history publications, and information services.