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The Coolest Christmas Tree You'll Ever See

national parks, electric Christmas tree
(Image credit: National Park Service)

This year's coolest Christmas tree can be found in Kenai Fjords National Park, where mountains, ice and ocean meet deep in the Alaskan wilderness.

At the foot of a massive glacier stands a dazzling Christmas tree, carefully erected atop a rocky island. This bit of holiday spirit is found at the edge of the Kenai Peninsula, a national treasure where nearly 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, the crowning feature of Kenai Fjords National Park. Harding Icefield is the largest icefield completely contained within the United States.

The terrain here is unforgiving, but wildlife is abundant in the frigid waters and thick forests around this remnant of the last ice age. Lucky visitors on tour boats in Kenai Fjords might glimpse the Dall's porpoise, which may be the fastest small cetacean on the planet — clocked at speeds of 35 mph (56 kph).

Winters are harsh in Kenai Fjords, and many roads are now closed to cars. Adventurous visitors can take advantage of the lack of car traffic and visit popular glaciers, such as Exit Glacier, by skis, dogsled, snowshoes or snowmobiles. The tree in the above picture sits at Holgate Arm, at the foot of the Holgate Glacier.

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Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.