Cordova, Alaska, is full of pristine natural beauty. // © 2018 Ben McBee
Feature image (above): Splotches of arctic lupine dot the banks of the lake at Sheridan Glacier outside of Cordova. // © 2018 Ben McBee
To get to Cordova, Alaska, clients must travel off the beaten path. Situated on the eastern side of Prince William Sound, the small fishing village has a population of about 2,200 and is fairly isolated from the outside world. To visit, travelers must take either a ferry or a flight from Anchorage. There are no connections to the highway system, and Cordovans are proud of it.
In fact, local merchandise such as bumper stickers and T-shirts commonly declare “No Road.” That slogan embodies Cordova’s allure, and the effort it takes to travel to this secluded slice of the 49th state pays off in a unique way. As a testament to its adventure tucked in hard-to-reach places, Cordova offers clients a gateway to pristine nature and incredible wildlife viewing, coupled with a welcoming, small-town vibe.
Below are four things to do while exploring Cordova.
Celebrate the Birds
Each year, about 5 million migrating shorebirds stop over at the tidal mudflats around Cordova, and hordes of bird enthusiasts follow. The 28th annual Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival will take place May 3-6, 2018, celebrating this epic avian journey. During the festival, daily shuttles run to Hartney Bay, where clouds of western sandpipers flit along the waterline, their copper-and-white feathers creating a shimmering spectacle.
For the festival, Major Marine Tours will offer a roundtrip cruise between Whittier and Cordova for $169 per person, with additional sightseeing opportunities on the way to the event.
Fish the Copper River
Cordova’s Copper River is home to exceptional wild salmon, and there’s only one true way to enjoy it fresh: You’ve got to catch it yourself. Many outfitters based in Cordova offer chartered fishing tours, both in salt water and freshwater. During the summer months, salmon return to the rivers and streams, creating a mecca for fly fishing, but there are other exciting species such as halibut and cutthroat trout waiting to be hauled in as well.
Hike the Nature Trails
Striking mountain peaks and picturesque bodies of water surround Cordova, and many can be viewed from well-maintained hiking trails. One path leads high above Sheridan Glacier, providing a breathtaking view of the ice floe and melt. The Power Creek Trail runs along glacial-silt-laden waters that teem with salmon in the fall. Whichever path you choose, bear spray and mosquito repellant are must-haves.
Observe the Wildlife
Once you arrive in Cordova, chances are, it won’t be long before you have your first animal sighting — whether it’s a moose running across the road or a bald eagle swooping overhead.
For even more close-up encounters, book a wildlife trip with Orca Adventure Lodge. Each excursion is devoid of bait traps and distracting viewing platforms.
Shop at Local Boutiques
It may be surprising, but Cordova is home to several charming — and quite successful — shops. Copper River Fleece’s colorful garments celebrate Alaska’s rich cultural and natural history and are engineered for comfort in extreme climates, which makes them popular with visitors, too. Pete’s Treats sells chocolate truffles, and recycled rope and fishing line are turned into beautiful pieces of art at Knot Crazy.