Indeed, Seward is a terrific place to spend a few days, especially when
On our first visit to Seward back in 2012 we arrived on
5, after many of the holiday revelers left town. The weather
was less than optimal -- chilly and rainy some days, but with
enough sun and warmth on other days that we generally enjoyed the area
and wanted to return some day.
Seward Harbor, July 5, 2012;
compare with sunny photos from this year in this and the next entry.
That year I was disappointed because some of the trails I wanted to
hike were closed. They were still under snow or too wet because of the
record-breaking snowfall the previous winter/spring.
rain or shine, we rode our bikes around town, hiked up to the Harding Icefield,
took a great Kenai Fjords boat tour, visited the Sea Life Center, did other
sight-seeing, and chalked up mostly favorable impressions of the place.
Our best weather in Seward that year was
the day we took a day cruise to Aialik Glacier
in Kenai Fjords National Park.
That's one of our best memories from July, 2012.
This time we decided to visit Seward a month later, hoping the
weather and trails would be better. We had no clue when we made those
plans last December and January that Winter 2014-5 would be one of the
lightest snowfalls in Southcentral Alaska. This time, early July
would have been just fine.
No problem, though -- the weather during the first four days
of our visit was perfect and more trails were open.
Now isn't the next scene much more inviting than the 2012 photo of
the harbor above??
Seward Harbor on 8-4-15:
sunny and much less snow in the mountains
This week we had three-plus days of sunshine and one day that was
partly overcast. When we saw that a week of rain was predicted starting
on Saturday, we left a day early to avoid most of it!
Seward is fantastic when it's sunny. Ditto for everywhere else we've
been in Alaska.
Not so much when it's chilly and wet . . .
THE DRIVE FROM WILLIWAW CG TO SEWARD
This morning we drove 81 miles from our campground in Portage Valley to
the Seward Military Resort at the north end of the town of Seward, as
highlighted on this map from
Traffic was moderate, getting backed up periodically for construction
stops before the Sterling Hwy. intersection at Tern Lake Junction.
Fortunately for us, most of the traffic went west toward Cooper Landing,
Kenai, Homer, and other towns on the western side of the peninsula.
There were a few bumps where pavement changed at bridges or repaving
sites but we had mostly brand new pavement in the construction zones and
only one relatively smooth gravel break that I remember. Because of all
the road work it took us almost two hours to get to Seward.
The large sign on the right says "Welcome to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula."
Welcome, indeed. That's where today's road construction began.
We did appreciate the new, smooth pavement.
The weather was great -- sunshine and very few clouds, in stark
contrast to the poor weather we had going to Seward three years ago.
Temps ranged from 46 F. at Williwaw Campground overnight to 71 F. in
Seward this afternoon. That's within our "perfect-weather range."
We loved all the scenic mountain, lake, and river views that we missed on this
drive three years ago when it was overcast and raining.
The landscape looks
much different this time, after a mild winter and
warmer-than-average spring/summer. Plus, we're here a month later than
last time. There is less snow and more flowers.
A lot of fireweeds are still in bloom along this route, although a
little past peak:
We saw a swan in a little pond near the Grayling Pond trailhead a few
miles north of Seward but no large critters like moose or bears.
CAMPING AT THE ARMY'S SEWARD
Although we are grateful for all the terrific
military campgrounds where we can stay, sometimes their rules drive us
Last time we were here we were allowed to check in a couple hours early
because several sites were available. Even though the site we're
occupying this week was empty when we arrived about 11 this morning, the
staff was adamant that we couldn't check in until noon. Grrr . . .
We waited for two other RVs to use the dump station before we did. That killed
about 20 minutes. I walked the dogs while Jim hung out in the office till precisely
noon, when he was permitted to check in.
The place is booked up tonight and only one space for a trailer our size was
available. It's very convenient to the bathrooms but not in the row
where we were last time that faces the grassy area where boats and extra
vehicles are parked -- and where it's easier to walk the dogs
when they need to potty.
There are two things we dislike about this campground -- no sewers, and
the spaces are much closer together than we prefer. Utilities are placed
so alternating sites are pull-in (for motorhomes) and back-in (for
trailers). That means if everyone parks "correctly," their door faces
someone else's door and their utility side faces someone else's business
That would be fine if
there was more room on the door sides.
The first night a large motorhome on our door side was only about 12 feet
away (picture above). There was just enough room for us to both put out
our slides and awnings but too close to feel comfortable sitting outside
to read or eat.
Fortunately, they and a bunch of other RVs left the next morning. The rest of the
time we were here the whole campground was less crowded and a much smaller
r-pod trailer occupied that site:
That's much better! Now we have a little more
This place is a contrast to our
favorite military campgrounds with spacious sites, like the Air Force Academy
or Kings Bay Sub Base.
In addition to small sites, "toad" and truck parking is very limited.
When the large Class A motorhome was next to us we barely had room to park the truck perpendicular
to the front of the Cameo. There was no way to park it parallel or in back
because of RVs right behind us.
The positives at the resort outweigh the negatives, though, and we are
glad to be here.
Most of our neighbors have been considerate this week, the location is
convenient to downtown and the harbor, the cost is lower than the
crowded private and public campgrounds in the area, and the resort
complex is very nice with attractive landscaping and amenities like
discounted tickets for land, air, and sea tours, museums, etc.
Jim and Casey walk in the grass next to one of the
In addition to the RV
campsites there are also shaded tent sites and canvas yurts for folks
who like more primitive camping.
For guests who want
non-camping accommodations, the resort has handsome cottages,
townhouses, and motel-type rooms:
has large expanses of grass, lots of flowers, an office and gift shop, a
restaurant/grill for evening meals, playground equipment, picnic tables,
and a large fish cleaning building.
There are two laundry rooms for
guests and one of the best bathrooms we've seen at any campground, anywhere.
When we have sewer
hookups we rarely use campground bathrooms -- we use our own. Since these
RV sites don't have sewer connections we use the bathroom to take our showers.
Jim joked that these are the best showers we've had since we sold our house!
(We can go about a week
without dumping the black water tank but gray water from the sinks and shower
needs to be drained every couple days.)
Colorful flowers near the resort office
Fees for all accommodations are in three tiers based on rank while in
the service. Higher officers, civilian DOD employees, and guests pay the
Jim is in the middle tier. Our cost is $25/night for water, 50-amp electricity,
WiFi (if not too many others are using it), and cable TV. Payment is due
when guests leave, which was in our favor since we left a day earlier
than planned (we paid for four nights instead of the five we reserved). Paying
at the end is how they get the bathroom key cards back -- smart.
Three years ago
the Air Force ran a small campground across the street from the Army's resort.
We stayed there our last night in 2012 when we wanted to extend our stay
and couldn't remain at the resort as many extra days as we wanted.
the Air Force campground has since closed:
We would have
preferred to stay there this time because some of the sites were larger and it
was less expensive and more informal than the resort.
Other campgrounds in and near Seward not only cost more than $25/night
for the same level of service, their sites are also quite crowded and/or
noisier. The military resort is a block off the main drag, across from a treed
area, and not right in town so it's very quiet.
The city runs a large campground right next to the water downtown. Those sites
have wonderful views of Resurrection Bay and are convenient to downtown and
the boat harbor but they are always windy, chilly, and even closer together than
There are also a couple private campgrounds a little bit north of town
that are quieter settings.
For folks content
with no hookups, there are some nice pull-offs
where people can boondock along the Resurrection River on the road to
farther up the Seward Hwy.:
Large double-ended pull-off by a lake north of
As soon as we ate lunch and got settled in this afternoon we drove
downtown to re-familiarize ourselves with what's there (we get Valdez
and Seward confused!). We also drove out Nash Road and the road to Exit
Glacier to hunt for trailheads. The hiking should be great this time.
I'll show photos from the harbor area and other scenic places near
Seward in the next entry.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil