In honor of Alaska National Parks Day, we're traveling to Kenai Fjords National Park—home of the awe-inspiring Exit Glacier, seen here. The park sits at the edge of the North Pacific Ocean where frequent winter storms dump the snow that feeds this land of ice. The Harding Icefield crowns the park with at least 38 flowing glaciers—one of which is Exit Glacier. Exit Glacier is known for being one of the most visited of Alaska's glaciers, likely because it’s accessible via the Seward Highway. In mid-November, the road to the glacier closes to cars due to heavy snowfall, so visitors can only get there using snow-friendly transportation like dogsled or cross-country skis.
Kenai Fjords is just one of Alaska's eight national parks, which together boast the nation’s largest glacial system, incredible wildlife viewing, and North America’s tallest peak, Denali. These parks exist in part because of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which President Jimmy Carter signed into law on this day in 1980. It converted massive tracts of Alaskan wilderness into protected land, doubling the size of the entire national park system. For that, we are grateful. Alaska may be cold, but it sure is beautiful and worth protecting.