Exit Glacier Audio Guide

Take a personal tour of the Exit Glacier area with former Chief Interpretive Park Ranger for this area, Doug Capra. Doug takes you through the only place in Kenai Fjords National Park where you can see the glacial ice and its dynamics up close on foot. He highlights key points of interest on the trails that pass through the forest, near the outwash plain, and at overlooks above the glacier. You’ll learn things about glacial landscapes, plant succession, and the area’s animals. Kenai Fjords became a national park to protect its glaciers and fjords—see both through the eyes of this park expert!

Show Map

Points of Interest

Doug Capra first came to Alas­ka in 1971 as a teacher — his first job was out in the Aleut­ian Islands. Now liv­ing on the Kenai Penin­su­la, he con­tin­ues to teach you all about a place he loves.

Start your tour of this mam­moth glac­i­er here. You won’t find restrooms or water on the trail, so stop in here before head­ing out. Be ready to see wildlife along the trail, like bears and moose. And remem­ber, if you see a bear, don’t sur­prise it, just let it go on its way.

Sounds are an essen­tial part of this area’s beau­ti­ful land­scape. So be sure to turn off your audio devices to hear the sounds of the riv­er or ani­mals in the for­est. Listening’s also impor­tant in remain­ing alert in the event of danger.

As you dri­ve along the road, you’ll notice signs marked with a year. These indi­cate where the glac­i­er was at var­i­ous points in time. Learn how sci­en­tists accu­rate­ly fig­ure these points out.

There’s a lot going on under­neath your feet! Your mom prob­a­bly makes your meals at home, but in the for­est it’s dif­fer­ent. Find out how Cot­ton­wood and Alder Trees pro­duce nutri­ents for near­by plants. 

Lots of moose make their home here; look over the sides of the bridge for their scat. These moose feed off the Felt-Leaf Wil­low trees, but how do they reach the leaves on the high branches?

Do you like tak­ing the mov­ing side­walks at the air­port? Well, the big boul­der off to the right did­n’t get there by walk­ing. Hear how the glac­i­er can be used as geo­log­i­cal transportation.

Why is this water so murky? Appar­ent­ly glac­i­ers aren’t one big block of ice. 

The plants in this area are work­ing togeth­er to repair their envi­ron­ment. Look off to your left and you’ll see a mat of a plant known as yel­low dryas. The ground here is bare, but the pres­ence of this plant is a sign that new soil is being built up. 

There’s a lot going on all around you – there has been for a while. Under­stand the role of moun­tains, snow, and ice in the for­ma­tion of glac­i­ers through­out the seasons. 

Take a moment to look at the geol­o­gy of the glac­i­er: this area is made up of a blend of meta­mor­phic, sed­i­men­ta­ry, and igneous rocks. How did all three of these types of rock get here?

It’s a good reminder that this is bear coun­try. Hear the sto­ry of how these claw marks got on the tree.

These ver­ti­cal rocks were orig­i­nal­ly in hor­i­zon­tal lay­ers. What twist­ed them 90 degrees?

If you stick your tongue to a frozen pole in the win­ter, would­n’t it get stuck? Some­thing sim­i­lar hap­pened here. 

Fjords are anoth­er glacial cre­ation. Learn how they are made and what their char­ac­ter­is­tics make them dif­fer­ent from a sim­ple valley.

Check out Doug’s pho­tos of the glac­i­er from just a few years ago. You may notice that it has moved a few feet.

Do you know what direc­tion the glac­i­er was mov­ing at spe­cif­ic times in his­to­ry? Sci­en­tist find that out by tak­ing a close look at the rocks around you. 

Here’s your oppor­tu­ni­ty to think of a bil­lion years in terms of a decade. This could be help­ful in under­stand­ing the his­to­ry of the earth on a grand scale.

As you were dri­ving, you most like­ly noticed signs with years post­ed along the road. These dis­play indi­ca­tions of the Lit­tle Ice Age. Was Exit Glac­i­er advanc­ing or retreat­ing dur­ing this short peri­od of time?

This glac­i­er is too big for drops of food col­or­ing. So where does it’s col­or come from?

You won’t always be able to make it to the toe of the glac­i­er, but it’s a cool expe­ri­ence when you can. Check out today’s glac­i­er and com­pare it with pho­tos from the past at the Nature Center.