Kenai Fjords National Park

The Best National Park Campsites: Bear Glacier Lake

Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

Bear Glacier Lake
Watch and listen as Bear Glacier calves icebergs into the lake. Photo by: Michael DeYoung

Up in the north, the vistas are so plentiful you’ll almost never find a line to see them. Up there, hikers can’t outpace nature long enough to establish more than a small handful of trails. That’s where you find beauty unrestricted by size or imagination and unmarred by those who have come before. Bear Glacier Lake of Kenai Fjords is one of those places. It contains a tiny nubbin of land in a shapeshifting lake that’s home to a valley glacier (one of 40 glaciers spun off the Harding Icefield). Grab a water taxi from Seward to a landing site just west of Callisto Head and paddle upstream for 3 miles to the iceberg-studded lake and land on an island made for camping. Listen to the gulls squawk, the surf crash against the shore, and the crack of the calving glacier. Let the sights and sounds set in your mind to form a timeless experience. And in so doing, reveal the final truth about superb campsites in the national parks: Once you find one, you may never want to leave, but you owe it to the rest of us to share. Trailhead Bear Glacier Water taxiSeward Water Taxi: $225/round-trip plus $25/kayak Season Late summer Permit Free; registration is voluntary