If you are planning a trip to Anchorage and are short on time, we highly recommend that you take a day trip from Anchorage to Exit Glacier and Seward. How often do you get to see a glacier up close and personal? One glacier that is easily accessible by foot is Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park just north of Seward, Alaska. A visit to this glacier and Seward is completely doable as a day trip from Anchorage. There are also some worthwhile stops along the way!
Scenic Drive Along Seward Highway
A day trip from Anchorage to Exit Glacier and Seward starts on the Seward Highway and heads south out of Anchorage. As soon as you leave Anchorage on the Seward Highway, you will see breathtaking views of the body of water known as Turnagain Arm.
This part of the drive is a great opportunity to spot beluga whales and Dall sheep. We were not fortunate enough to spot any sheep, but we did see the beluga whales even if not close enough to capture in photos. Regardless, it is a breathtaking stretch of highway with mountains on one side and the water on the other. As you can see, it was overcast/rainy the day that we made the drive, and it was still spectacular.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center – A Must Stop on a Day Trip from Anchorage to Seward
One of our favorite stops along this beautiful drive was at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This wildlife sanctuary is “dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education, research and quality animal care.”
We found this sanctuary to be a wonderful way to support conservation efforts while also getting some up-close encounters with beautiful Alaskan wildlife. The animals were obviously well-taken care of and seemed very content in their surroundings. Admissions prices ranged from $13-$17, and they have a variety of other educational programs available if you have more time than we did.
Exit Glacier – The Biggest Attraction on a Day Trip from Anchorage to Seward
Exit Glacier Road is at mile 3 of the Seward Highway, and it is about an eight-mile drive up to the Kenai Fjords National Park nature center. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife! This was where we were fortunate to see a moose in the wild! She was less than concerned about any of us!
As in most national parks, the Kenai Fjords nature center includes exhibits, a store, rangers, and bathrooms. The Kenai Fjords National Park site has a ton of great info to help in planning your day! We chose to take the Glacier View Loop Trail and then continued onto the Glacier Overlook Trail to get a much closer look. The Glacier View Loop Trail is a very accessible one-mile paved trail, and you can get a glimpse of the view from the trail in the picture below.
Once we turned onto the Glacier Overlook Trail, the hike became a bit more challenging. Instead of a paved trail, much of the trail is a bit rocky. It is completely doable for even small children, but just be sure to have good shoes as it can be a bit slippery. See below for a shot of a portion of the trail. As you can see, the beauty of the hike absolutely makes up for the lack of a paved trail.
Just past Exit Glacier is the sleepy little fishing/tourist town of Seward. Charming in every way, Seward is a wonderful stop for lunch (we thoroughly enjoyed our stop at Zudy’s Cafe!), souvenir shopping, taking a whale watching or glacier viewing cruise, or just enjoying the waterfront views. We only spent a couple of hours in Seward, but we enjoyed our time there! Without question, we did not regret our decision to take a day trip from Anchorage to Exit Glacier and Seward.
Other Potential Stops
There are a plethora of opportunities for hiking, historic and scenic overlooks, and exploring between Anchorage and Seward. While we only made the stops described, you can find a lot more options on this great site.