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The Dock of the Bay

Seward was founded in 1903 and named after William Seward, who bought Alaska from the Russians in 1867.

During the Alaska gold rush, Seward was the start of the Iditarod Trail, which led to the northern gold fields.

Seward's still an important Alaskan port. But it’s best known to Alaskans as a resort town by the ocean, close enough for a perfect weekend vacation.

(Photo, Robert Gaucher)

Seward History

This town was named for William Seward, a member of Lincoln’s cabinet, who bought Alaska from the Russians.

Explored by Russians in 1792, it wasn’t until the 1890’s that this area was settled. Its ice-free harbor made it an obvious port.

It was the beginning of the Alaska Railroad, and the Iditarod Trail, but its importance began to dim as Anchorage grew.

Seward has many of its historic buildings still standing.

One popular way to travel into Seward's past is to visit its historic museum (below).

Beach Camping

Fishermen walk out of their campers on the beach and throw in their lines at Seward. At night, there are campfires on the rocks.

Only a small section of this city-run campground has hookups, but there are showers and a dump station.

There’s a 2nd city campground 2.5 miles out of town in the woods near the visitor center.

SeaLife Center

A total of 4,500 gallons of fresh sea water, pumped in every minute, keeps the Steller sea lions happy at the SeaLife Center in Seward.

There are puffins, seals, various other seabirds and starfish, salmon, and even kelp.

Remote control cameras from Chiswell Island, 35 miles from Seward, let you zero in on sleepy wild sea lions, basking in the sun on the rocks.

+ Read more about Alaska's Marine Life.

Mt Marathon Race

In 1915, a couple of old Sourdoughs came up with the idea of a 4th of July foot race up 3,022 foot Mt. Marathon in Seward.

The race is now held yearly. Record time for dashing up the 3 mile course and skidding back down the rocky slope is 41 minutes, 26 seconds a record set by David Norris. The course record for women is 47 minutes, 48 seconds, set by Emelie Forsberg. Another runner, Fred Moore, has raced in 50 consecutive races from 1970 to 2019.

Knees give out, legs are skinned, and pieces of clothing are ripped off by the rocks, as thousands cheer on their favorites.


Visit All of Seward

There are two distinct parts of Seward.

There’s a newer commercial area as you enter town. It’s got a dockside area for shops, restaurants, & charter boats.

Just down the road is the historic part of town, on a hill leading to the bay.

A narrow dirt road leads to Miller’s Landing and Lowell Point.

Exit Glacier

The mountains that dominate the southeastern half of the Kenai Peninsula contain a massive ice field that fills the mountain valleys over an area 50 by 30 miles.

Harding Icefield is a relic of the Ice Age. Bounded by high mountains, the ice field isn’t visible from the road. You have to travel by boat to Kenai Fjords National Park to see it from the ocean.

Or you can view Exit Glacier, just outside of Seward.

Harding Icefield

Take a glacier cruise to see Harding Icefield.

It’s not visible from the road unless you take the strenuous Icefield Trail.

(Photo, Robert Gaucher)

We're Having a Heat Wave

A total of 38 glaciers stem from the 750-square mile Harding Icefield.

Exit Glacier has retreated 50 feet a year in the last 200 years. As you approach the glacier, you’ll see markers, starting in 1790, and ending in 1978, that show the dramatic rate of the ice’s retreat.

Read all about glaciers at the Nature Center at the beginning of the Exit Glacier Trail.

Take A Boat

Seward is a major port for charter tours.

Besides the scenery of Kenai Fjords National Park, you can also see many seabirds as well as Steller sea lions, harbor seals, whales, porpoises, sea otters, moose, bears and mountain goats.

Learn About the Kenai Fjords

The Kenai Fjords Visitor Center is near the small boat harbor in Seward.

It has exhibits, side programs, maps and information.

While in Seward, don't miss....
• Mt. Marathon 4th of July Race
• Exit Glacier
• Glacier cruises in Resurrection Bay
• Halibut & Salmon Fishing

Tide books are a fisherman’s best friend. They are handed out for free in sports shops, banks, and grocery stores all over Alaska. In salt water, you want to have your line in the water a couple of hours before high tide. If you’re clamming, you’ll want to clam during super low tides

+ Places to Go + Things to Do
+ Where to Stay + Where to Eat

seward bayside bench


The Fish House Charters
Seward Fishing Club
Marathon Helicopters

Seward Subway

+ Map: Downtown Seward
+ Map: Seward Highway, Tern Lake Juction
+ Map: Kenai Fjords National Park
+ Map: Resurrection Trail

Chugach National Forest
One of Alaska’s largest forests, it covers the east end of the Kenai Peninsula and stretches across Prince William Sound. It has many public use cabins and well-maintained trails, including the Resurrection Trail. A third of the forest is made up of mountains and ice.

Kenai Fjords National Park
Exit Glacier near Seward is the only overland route to this park. You can cruise along the coast and into its many fjords full of wildlife and glaciers.

Q: How far is Seward from Anchorage?

A: 125 miles.

Seward is fishing town that’s wildly popular with Anchorage residents, who can drive here in 3 hours for the weekend.

Be careful driving the Seward Highway. It’s one of the most dangerous in Alaska. You must use your headlights. Pull off the road if cars are backed up behind you.

For a Seward Highway Map, click here.

Seward Railroad History: Laying Track

Alaska’s first railroad was a 50-mile track that started in Seward in 1903. It was called the Alaska Central Railway.

By 1910, the track was under new ownership and ran 71 miles out of Seward.

In 1914, Congress agreed to spend $35 million on a railroad all the way to Fairbanks. To Seward’s surprise, Ship Creek, in Anchorage, was chosen to be the big construction town.

Alaska’s total population remained so small that it wasn’t until 1938 that the railroad had its first profitable year.

Seward: Official Start of the Iditarod Trail

The old Iditarod Trail was actually a tangled mass of ancient Native trails all over Alaska.

One end of the trail came to the coastal town of Seward. This led to the gold fields up north

Seward claims the status of “Mile 0” of the famed trail.

The largest amount of gold to ever arrive by dog team in Seward was 1.5 tons, mushed over the Iditarod Trail by 46 dogs, in 1915.

Easy Exit Glacier Hike

Start at the Exit Glacier parking lot, which is 8.6 paved miles back in from the Seward Highway, 3 miles north of Seward.

A well-marked trail (the first 1/4 mile is handicap accessible) leads to the foot of Exit Glacier.

You can check out the glacial moraine, hike up the marked Overlook Loop to see the glacier edge, and return, if you want, on the Nature Trail, which has interpretive signs. There’s a Nature Center and flush toilets.

Stroll At Seward

Seward has a nice paved beachfront bike and walking path that will take you from the campground to the SeaLife Center. It’s a great place for families to practice bicycling.

Harding Icefield Trail

A difficult trail that climbs 3,000 feet and takes up to 8 hours.

The top of the trail may be covered in snow. You need lots of water and warm clothing. Because there are no portable potties, you’ll have to be careful with human waste – covering it over, or even packing it out.

You’ll have to watch out for bears. Do not go on the glacial ice.

Seward Chamber of Commerce
Great source of information for Seward, covering businesses, events, tides, churches, and the Kenai Fjords.

Alaska SeaLife Center
Alaska SeaLife Center web site includes information for visitors in addition to sections on research and education.

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