Home » 2006 Alaska RV Road Trip

Miller's Landing - Seward, AK

Sunday, July 23, 2006 - 5:30am by Lolo
176 miles and 3.5 hours from our last stop - 3 night stay


Caine's Head Coastal Trail FishingCaine's Head Coastal Trail FishingAs we approached Seward, the fine mist that we had become so used to had now turned to a steady rain. This weather was certainly getting tiresome. We passed right through the town of Seward and headed out to Lowell Point where we had reservations at Miller's Landing. The 3-mile dirt road out to the Point was solid mud and so full of potholes that we had to crawl along at less than 10 mph. I seriously worried whether we would be able to get out of here if the rain continued. Finally, we got to Miller's Landing, a campground right on Resurrection Bay, which would have been wonderful under better conditions. The campground has 30 sites, 15 of which overlook the beach and the mountains and glaciers across the bay. Fortunately, I had reserved the last 2 beach sites. We were assigned one sandwiched between the office and a dumpster. At first I was upset about the aesthetics, but after Herb pulled the RV up a little further (so the dumpster was not right outside our window), our now unimpeded view up the beach became spectacular.

Gang hiking on Caine's Head Coastal TrailGang hiking on Caine's Head Coastal TrailHans was still quite sick with the stomach virus that had been wreaking havoc on our vacation. I can't believe he drove all the way here from Homer. After checking in, we never saw him again until the next morning. Michelle, Jonathan, and Alexis came over to our RV, and we cooked the halibut that Hans and Jon had caught on their Homer charter. With the help of a few bread crumbs, it was absolutely delicious. I was in a hurry to get over to the office, which also served as a lodge, because I had seen a flyer that there was going to be live musical entertainment there that evening--Ken Waldman, the Alaskan fiddling poet. The kids were rather skeptical, but I felt that anything would be better than 7 people cramped in one RV listening to the rain hit the roof. Besides, it was Tom's 15th birthday so we had to do something. I'm sure Tom was the only one of his friends that could say that he got to hear an Alaskan fiddler on his birthday.

Caine's Head Coastal TrailCaine's Head Coastal TrailWe quickly cleaned up dinner and ran through the puddles and mud to get to the lodge. What a transformation! During the day this placed seemed like just a nice campground office and gift shop. However, in the dark with some nice low nautical lighting, it had transformed into a very cozy and warm place to hang out. There were 3 or 4 wooden tables along the windows overlooking the water, but unfortunately, they were all full by the time we got there. Instead, the 7 of us squeezed on a long bench, right next to where Ken Waldman with his fiddle and his friend with a banjo were about to play. I glanced over at the boys and smiled at them with that special look that warned them to keep an open mind and go with the flow.

Caine's Head Coastal TrailCaine's Head Coastal TrailI must say, it truly was a very special and memorable evening. The music style was certainly something different for us, but that made it all the more entertaining and fun. There was a family from Palmer, Alaska that sat at a table across from us that really got into the music. They stomped their feet and sang along with all the songs. Their enthusiasm was contagious. I was starting to envy the people that had chosen Alaska as their home. They all seemed to have a genuine happiness with life, despite the weather. In fact, I was beginning to think that maybe it was even because of the weather. They seemed to find their happiness from within. It really was a fun evening and I found myself humming the lyrics to songs with names like "A Week in Eek", "Burnt Down House", and many more. Ken Waldman was really an interesting character as well. He is a graduate of Duke University that had come to Alaska more than 20 years ago and never left. Well, actually he does leave quite often to perform his music all over the U.S., but he always comes back to his beloved Alaska.

Caine's Head Coastal TrailCaine's Head Coastal TrailBack in the RV, we lit some candles on a birthday cake and sang to Tom. He's had some pretty spectacular birthdays, because they usually occur on one of our trips, and I'm sure this one will be a memorable one for him as well. Tom's a really sensible kid. I think he got the message. He told everyone to stop complaining about the rain and just have a good time. He's right.

The next morning we woke up to more rain beating down on the roof, which made it hard to get out of bed. It was so cozy just lying there listening to it. We turned on the weather radio and found out that the forecast was for rain all day and 13 foot seas. That pretty much ruled out our plan of a boat cruise to see the glaciers. In fact, it pretty much ruled out our plans for any outdoor activities.

Hans reappeared, feeling somewhat better from his bout with the stomach virus that was making its way through our party. At least it only lasted 24 hours, which was some small comfort. Desperate for something to do, we piled into one RV and drove back down that horrible road into Seward.

Kids playing cards in Miller's Landing lodgeKids playing cards in Miller's Landing lodgeWe spent a good part of the day at the Alaska Sea Life Center, which is a very impressive aquarium and marine research center. The main attraction was the three gigantic tanks, where we saw seals, sea lions, puffins, and other seabirds up close. The rain had slowed down a bit, so we walked from the Sea Life Center along the waterfront towards the harbor. During our walk we discovered that the city of Seward provided numerous places to camp right along the waterfront with wonderful views of the mountains across the bay. In retrospect, it probably would have been a better idea to have camped here--equally wonderful views and easier access to the sights of Seward. However, with good weather, I still think that Miller's Landing would have been spectacular.

We stopped at the National Park Headquarters in town to inquire about the boat cruises to Kenai Fjords. The news wasn't good. The seas were so high that no boats had gone out that day and the same was probably true for tomorrow. There went our chance at what I had really been looking forward to most on our trip to Alaska.

I don't think any of us wanted to spend another night cooking in the RV, so we decided to eat at Ray's Waterfront Restaurant on the harbor. The good food and atmosphere and a few glasses of wine perked us up quite a bit. After dinner, rather than walk back to the motorhome along the waterfront, we went along 4th avenue, where Seward's nicest shops and galleries were.

Miller's Landing CampgroundMiller's Landing CampgroundThe next day, which was our last in Seward, the weather had improved slightly. Overcast and drizzle was what we had now come to consider good weather. Since we couldn't go on a boat cruise to the fjords, we wanted to at least do something adventurous and outdoors while we were here. The next best option I could come up with was hiking the Caine's Head Coastal Trail, which was listed by Alaska Magazine as one of the 10 best hikes in Alaska. It started right from Lowell Point near where we were camping. The only problem was that some sections of the trail could only be hiked at low tide and our timing was a bit off. We had already missed the 8 a.m. low tide and 8 p.m. would be a bit late. We considered taking a water taxi out to the end, but for 8 of us it would have cost a couple hundred dollars--a bit pricey we felt for a taxi. We decided to just head out and see how far we could get.

The first part of the trail was all upland, through the woods. When we got to the Tonsina Beach Bridge, we could see salmon spawning in the stream. You weren't allowed to fish there as it wouldn't exactly have been very sporting. The salmon were busy doing their biological duty. We actually saw female salmon laying their eggs and the male salmon hanging around waiting to do his part. It was very romantic.

Millers LandingMillers LandingIn the distance, where this creek flowed into Resurrection Bay, we saw about a dozen fishermen knee-deep in the water. You are allowed to fish in the bay, just not in the streams. We weren't sure just where the trail went from here, so we tried to cut through some tall grass to get over to where the fishermen were. We got about 100 yards before we were stopped by a small creek. A bit of a debate began as to the wisdom of crossing this stream versus turning around and trying to find the real trail. Herb plowed on through the creek--he at least had L.L. Bean boots on, and the rest of us turned back to find the trail. After a few unsuccessful attempts at trail finding, we decided to take the Herb route and proceeded to get our feet and our pants, up to the knees, soaking wet. Some of us--I won't name any name--became very cranky about this. The fishermen were not really catching anything, so we walked along the beach enjoying the views of the Bay and the glaciers across the way. We noticed quite a bit of bear scat around, so we started making plenty of noise so as not to startle any. When we got to the area where the cliffs rose from the beach, we had to turn back because of the tides. Too bad. It would have been nice to have been able to do the whole hike. At the end, there is an old deserted World War II fort and some wonderful views from atop a 650-foot high headland.

Caine's Head Coastal TrailCaine's Head Coastal TrailOn our way back, our group got separated a bit. Herb, Michelle, and I were strolling along behind the others when all of a sudden we stopped dead in our tracks. Up ahead, all we could see was a mass of brown fur blocking the narrow trail. Michelle and I panicked and practically jumped on Herb's shoulders. I'm not sure exactly what that was going to accomplish, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. As we stood paralyzed and clutching each other, the beast started moving towards us. Only then did we see that we had been terrorized by a Golden Retriever. My knees were still shaking a half hour later.

That night, after dinner the kids went back to the lodge to play some cards. It really was quite cozy and warm. I think we were finally starting to get some of that internal Alaskan happiness.

The next morning we awoke to brilliant sunshine streaming through our windows. Not knowing just how long it would last, we ran outside to photograph this rare event. What an absolutely beautiful place!


Seward is located at the end of the Seward Highway, about 127 miles south of Anchorage. Tucked between the waters of Resurrection Bay and the foot of Mt. Marathon, this port town serves as the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park.

Michelle and Tommy at Alaskan Sea Life CenterMichelle and Tommy at Alaskan Sea Life CenterKenai Fjords National Park encompasses 580,000 acres of glaciers, fjords, Icefields, and mountainous coastline and is home to whales, sea otters, and sea lions. The centerpiece of the park is the massive 700 square mile Harding Icefield, which feeds more than 30 glaciers. Eight of these glaciers reach the sea, creating a thundering display of calving icebergs. To view these glaciers and the marine wildlife, most visitors to Seward take one of the many boat tours offered by various tour companies. Half-day tours take you around Resurrection Bay. However, to see glaciers calving you have to go as far as Aialik Bay to Holgate Glacier, which can only be reached on a full-day tour. Take Dramamine along as the unprotected waters outside Resurrection Bay can get quite rough.

The only part of Kenai Fjords National Park accessible by land is Exit Glacier, just 4 miles north of Seward. See the next stop for a detailed description of this part of the park.

The town of Seward itself is quite picturesque with its bustling harbor and historic downtown filled with quaint shops, art galleries, and restaurants. The town was established back in 1903 by railroad surveyors as an ice-free port which could be the southern end of the Alaska railroad. It still has a frontier-town feel to it, with many homes and buildings dating back to that time.

Millers Landing PorchMillers Landing PorchA very popular destination on the south side of town is the Alaska Sea Life Center. The main attraction is the three gigantic tanks, where visitors can view seals, sea lions, puffins, and other seabirds up close. Also popular is the tidepool touch tank. The Center is also an important center for marine research and the rehabilitation of wildlife.

Most RVers who visit Seward, dry camp in one of the huge gravel lots along the waterfront that are part of the City of Seward Waterfront Campground. The views are spectacular. There are even some sites that have water and electrical hookups.

Another interesting camping alternative is Miller's Landing, just a few miles south of town on Lowell Point. To reach the campground, drive right through Seward and take Lowell Point Road, a poorly maintained gravel road that runs for about 2.2 miles along the shoreline. This beachfront campground has 30 sites, 15 of which overlook the beach and mountains across the bay. Most sites have electric, but there is no water or dump. However, there are hot showers and a laundry. Miller's Landing provides lots of recreational options, such as: fishing charters, sightseeing charters, motor boat rentals, kayak lessons and rentals, and Water Taxi services to remote kayaking and fishing sites throughout Kenai Fjords National Park and Resurrection Bay. You can also fish for salmon right from the campground beach or hike the 5-mile Caine's Head State Park Trail, listed as one of the top ten hikes in Alaska by Alaska Magazine. There are enough activities at Miller's Landing to keep you busy for weeks.

Miller's Landing - Seward location map in "high definition"

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