Camping at Kenai Fjords National Park
Overview of Kenai Fjords National Park
Located on the Kenai Peninsula in southcentral Alaska, Kenai Fjords National Park is known for its rugged beauty, abundant marine wildlife, glaciers, and remote wilderness. It encompasses over 600,000 acres and is primarily visited by people looking to explore its magnificent coastlines, ice fields, and the Harding Icefield, one of the largest ice fields in the United States.
Camping in Kenai Fjords National Park
Backcountry Camping: Given the park's wild nature, most camping within Kenai Fjords is backcountry camping. Campers must be fully self-sufficient and experienced in surviving and traveling in bear country. Backcountry camping requires a free permit that helps rangers manage the park and ensure the safety of its visitors.
Public Use Cabins: For those looking for a more secure structure, there are a few public use cabins available for reservation. These cabins offer a unique and isolated experience but require a good deal of planning to reach, as they're typically accessible only by boat or after a long hike.
Permits and Reservations
To backcountry camp or reserve a public use cabin within the park, you will need to secure the appropriate permits or reservations:
- Backcountry Camping Permit: Obtainable at the park's visitor center, which is necessary even for free backcountry camping.
- Public Use Cabin Reservations: Made in advance through the National Recreation Reservation System website or by phone.
Rules and Regulations
Leave No Trace: Camping in Kenai Fjords National Park follows the Leave No Trace principles, and it's crucial to pack out everything you pack in.
Wildlife Safety: Encounters with wildlife, including bears, are a significant concern. Proper food storage and knowledge of wildlife safety are essential.
Campfires: Campfires are generally not allowed due to the scarcity of wood and the potential for environmental damage. Campers are encouraged to use portable cook stoves.
Distancing: Campers must set up at least 100 yards from sources of water to protect local wildlife habitats and water quality.
Weather and Safety
The weather in the park can be highly unpredictable, and even in summer, it can be cool and rainy. Dressing in layers, having a waterproof outer layer, and sturdy waterproof footwear is recommended. Hypothermia is a risk if you're not prepared.
Also, as you'll be in remote areas, it's advisable to carry safety equipment such as a satellite phone or personal locator beacon in case of emergencies.
Additional Services and Amenities
Because of its wilderness nature, services within Kenai Fjords National Park are minimal. Therefore:
- Food and Supplies: There are no services for food and supplies within the park boundaries. Prepare to bring everything you'll need with you.
- Water Sources: Potable water is not available at most camping locations; campers will need to treat or boil water from streams or lakes.
- Waste Disposal: There are no trash collection services, so pack out all waste, including human waste, in many areas.
The park's rugged terrain and lack of developed facilities mean accessibility for those with disabilities is limited. Check with park services for the most current information regarding accessible facilities and services.
Before heading into the wilderness of Kenai Fjords National Park, make sure you're well-prepared, well-informed about the specific regulations, and have all mandatory permits. Respecting the park's regulations and the natural environment ensures both your safety and the preservation of this unique wilderness for future generations.