Aialik Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park - Kenai Borough, AK
Posted by: NorStar
N 59° 56.733 W 149° 44.130
6V E 347198 N 6648505
Quick Description: Aialik Glacier is a beautiful tidewater glacier that is an outflow of the Harding Ice Field where the the cruise boat we were on stopped for almost a half hour to listen to the sounds of the cracks and booms as it inched its way into the water.
Location: Alaska, United States
Date Posted: 10/28/2010 7:17:01 AM
Waymark Code: WMA0YK
Within the Kenai Fjords National Park, on the west side of Resurrection Bay, there are many glaciers that flow from the Harding Ice Field into the water. The one I selected for this waymark, the Aialik Glacier is the one the cruise boat I was on stayed at for about a half hour so that the passengers could hear the eerie sounds of the cracks and splashes it made as the flow inched towards the sea.
This glacier is a popular stop along cruises, and there are many videos posted of the glacier posted when parts fall off and splash into the water. Not as much information is posted on the internet.
The Harding Ice Field is the source of the glacier. This ice field is the largest completely within the borders of the U.S. and one of four remaining in the U.S. The ice field itself covers over 300 square miles, and 1,100 square miles if you include the glaciers. There are at least 40 glaciers from this ice field, that include Exit Glacier, Tustumena Glacier, Nortwestern Glacier, Holgate Glacier, Bear Glacier, and McCarty Glacier. The ice field receives over 400 inches of snow a year, which eventually compacts into ice.
All glaciers but one are receding. The entrance to Exit Glacier, for instance, has signs along the road and the trail that have years on them to show how much the glacier has receded in roughly 100 years. On the NPS map, there are years and lines in the map that show how much the McCarty Glacier has receded. Aialik Glacier, however is the only one that is not receding. There were a few theories explained by the National Park Ranger that was on the cruise boat. When I look at the map, Aialik is short and steep compared to the other glaciers, so the glacier may not have as much of a chance to melt on the way.
The best way to see the glacier is by boat or plane. There are several cruise and guided kayaking tours available, so the best way to start is to go to the Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center in the center of Seward. From there, you can talk with a ranger who can help you with the options, then go to one of the places to get tickets. We ended up on Major Tours, which had a six hour trip that included passing by several glaciers, animals sighted, and generally wound around the coves.
Mountain / landmass name: Kenai Mountains
Park name (if any): Kenai Fjords National Park
Glacier type: ice
Parking / trail head / boat launch:
Kenaia Fjords National Park Visitor Center
1212 4th Avenue
Seward, AK United States of America
Travel time (approximate): 3:00 AM
Final access method: Boat / ship
Safe viewing location: N 59° 56.733 W 149° 44.130
Photograph submitted: yes
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