Things To Do In Cordova

Drive the Copper River Highway

There are a few small car rental outfits available in Cordova, so reserve one well in advance.

Then travel east from Cordova across the sprawling delta to find hiking trails, wildlife viewing spots, campgrounds, canoeing, sport fishing, and birding.

You can travel as far as mile 36, where a bridge is washed out.

View Local Glaciers

Drive out the Copper River Highway, and take the short 1.5 mile walk to see Sheridan Glacier, just past the Cordova Airport at mile 14. In winter (if conditions are right), locals hike with their ice skates to the lake’s edge, and then ice skate among bright blue icebergs that have calved off the glacier and are frozen in place.

Further down the highway at Mile 24.6 the Saddlebag Glacier Trail stretched 3.1 miles each way (for a 6.2-mile round-trip) that should take about 4.5 hours.

It’s an easy hike along flat ground that makes it doable for everyone. Mountain bikers take to the trail, too, sometimes with stand-up paddleboards to paddle out on the lake.

Unless you get out on the water, you won’t actually be able to see the receding glacier. But if you’re here in winter, you can walk across the lake and get right up to it. And if you come in winter, you can walk across the frozen ice

Hike

For such a remote area, Cordova has some impressive trails in the Chugach National Forest that are very well maintained by the Forest Service.

40 miles of maintained trails are road-accessible trails, and there are well over 100 miles of trail in total. And there’s an incredible variety.

You can experience muskeg meadow to alpine ridges above treeline, often in just a few miles.

Look for Wildlife

Located at Mile 17 of the Copper River Highway, the Alaganik Slough Trail provides an accessible boardwalk leading visitors to expansive wetlands of the Copper River Delta.

A wide variety of wetland animals including trumpeter swans, moose, brown bear, and shorebirds can be seen in the area, especially during the spring and fall.

In early May each year, millions of shorebirds migrate from South America to Alaska, where they stop to rest and feed on the Copper River Delta mudflats at Hartney Bay. This area also has potential for great bear viewing when the salmon are running.

Stand on the Hartney Bay Bridge and look inland.

Cordova is also the sea otter capitol of the world! Look for them from Orca Inlet Road, the Cordova Harbor, or take a day cruise into Orca Inlet.

Attend a Local Festival

The Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival, held each May, celebrates the arrival of more than 5 million migratory birds. In July, the community is alive with vendors, games, races, live music and of course, good food, for the annual Copper River Salmon Jam.

In winter, there’s nothing quite like the Iceworm Festival. It’s held each year at the end of January/early February just when the days start to get long again. It’s the perfect cabin fever reliever!

Fishing

Cordova is home to the legendary Copper River reds (sockeye salmon) and Copper River Kings (Chinook salmon).

Go with a guide, hire a charter, or try your luck at one of many streams along the Copper River Highway that offer decent bank-side fishing.

Winter Magic

The local Mt. Eyak Ski Area is home fo one of America’s oldest single-chair lifts in the country!

Or go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing along local Forest Service trails.

Even before the snow flies, though, the cold weather in November and early December freezes the ponds along the Copper River Highway, making for magical ice skating.

Cordova Fairs & Festivals

Season: Jul 15 to Jul 16

It’s only fit­ting that an Alas­ka fish­ing vil­lage throws a great salmon fes­ti­val. Every year in July, the town of Cor­do­va takes a break from fish­ing to turn out for the Cop­per Riv­er Salmon Jam. This fes­ti­val aims to cel­e­brate salmon and pro­mote the health and sus­tain­abil­i­ty of local salmon runs.

Cordova’s old­est fes­ti­val — which start­ed back in 1961 — is about offer­ing a cure for the win­ter blues. This week­long fes­ti­val hap­pens dur­ing the hope­ful time of year when the days are start­ing to get longer!

Con­sid­ered one of Alaska’s top bird­ing events, this annu­al fes­ti­val dur­ing ear­ly May cel­e­brates the arrival of more than 5 mil­lion migra­to­ry birds on the Cop­per Riv­er Delta east of Cordova.

This annu­al three-day event cel­e­brates the Cor­do­va region’s abun­dant crop of wild mush­rooms with class­es, art and hand­craft ses­sions, expert talks, kid’s activ­i­ties and dai­ly-guid­ed trips into the rain for­est foothills and the Cop­per Riv­er Delta.

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Cordova Points of Interest

In Prince William Sound you’ll find some 150 glac­i­ers packed into an area just 70 miles wide. These are the few that you shouldn’t miss! 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles

This 1.5‑mile hike is an easy stroll down to the lake that offers a great pay­off in the form of a gor­geous glac­i­er. If you’re here in win­ter and the con­di­tions are right, it’s a great spot for wilder­ness ice skat­ing, fat bik­ing, or cross-coun­try skiing!

Here’s our list of the best wildlife view­ing spots in Cor­do­va. Search for salmon, shore­birds, and more.

Bald eagles. Brown bears. Black bears. Hump­back whales. Orcas. Stel­lar sea lions. Har­bor seals. Sea otters. Moose. Wolves. 200,000 seabirds of over 220 dif­fer­ent species. You can find this impres­sive col­lec­tion of icon­ic Alaskan ani­mals right in Prince William Sound. Here’s where to go in each town for the best wildlife-view­ing opportunities!

This very active glac­i­er forms a wall along the fabled Cop­per Riv­er near a his­toric rail­road route that once ser­viced the world’s largest cop­per mine. NOTE: A bridge at Mile 36 of the Cop­per Riv­er High­way is cur­rent­ly (2020) impass­able, with repairs not expect­ed for sev­er­al years. Child’s Glac­i­er is not cur­rent­ly acces­si­ble by road. Con­tact Cor­do­va Ranger Dis­trict for cur­rent venders pro­vid­ing trans­porta­tion options to the far side.  ...more

Cor­do­va is the sea otter capi­tol of the world. They pup year-round, and there are many great places to see them!

Eight signs will guide you through the Cop­per Riv­er water­shed land­scape. See if you can vis­it all eight signs on your tour through this upriv­er basin formed by the ancient, glacial Lake Atna!

Every year, mil­lions of shore­birds migrate from South Amer­i­ca to Alas­ka, where they stop to rest and feed on the Cop­per Riv­er Delta mud flats at Hart­ney Bay. This area also has poten­tial for great bear view­ing when the salmon are running.

The Cor­do­va Cen­ter is a state-of-the-art facil­i­ty built in 2014 that can hold groups of up to 200 peo­ple. It blends per­fect­ly into its sur­round­ings, with big win­dows that look out onto Orca Inlet and Hawkins Island. Once work is done, it’s a land­scape your group will want to explore!

Explore the Wild World of the Cop­per Riv­er Delta. In this Audio Guide, you’ll get to learn about car­niver­ous plants, mush­rooms that hunt their prey, and find out why Cor­do­va is one of the best places in the world to see migrat­ing shorebirds.

NOTE: The Cop­per Riv­er High­way is cur­rent­ly closed beyond mile 36, where there is a failed bridge. As of this time, the road does not go beyond that point. The 49.5 mile Cop­per Riv­er High­way leads from the town of Cor­do­va to the Mil­lion Dol­lar Bridge. The Mil­lion Dol­lar Bridge was once used by the rail­road to haul cop­per from Ken­ni­cott to the port of Cor­do­va, and was added to the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places in 2000. Aside from the  ...more

Con­struc­tion of this ear­ly-1900s bridge cost a whop­ping (at the time) $1.4 mil­lion, which earned it the nick­name Mil­lion Dol­lar Bridge. But the bridge quick­ly earned its keep, allow­ing the rail­road to haul cop­per from Ken­ni­cott to the port of Cordova.

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Cordova Parks & Trails

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 6 miles

6.2 round-trip easy hike through the Chugach Nation­al For­est to a glacial lake. Pop­u­lar in win­ter for fat bik­ing and ice skat­ing. In sum­mer, hik­ing and paddleboarding. 

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 8 miles

This 4.1‑mile trail starts through for­est and muskeg mead­ows. You’ll cross a beau­ti­ful bridge over a creek that in mid-July and August is full of spawn­ing chum salmon Then once you’re at the top take in views of Cor­do­va, Nel­son Bay, and Prince William Sound. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles

This 1.5‑mile hike is an easy stroll down to the lake that offers a great pay­off in the form of a gor­geous glac­i­er. If you’re here in win­ter and the con­di­tions are right, it’s a great spot for wilder­ness ice skat­ing, fat bik­ing, or cross-coun­try skiing!

Difficulty: Difficult

This is a light­ly slop­ing trail that par­al­lels the Scott Val­ley and pass­es the shores of large and small lakes. The trail pass­es through an area that was pre­vi­ous­ly logged. It is not a well-main­tained trail. 

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles

The first mile and a half of this trail leads up over rocky slopes that offer a great view of Eyak Lake and the Orca Inlet. At this point the trail splits in two and the hik­er has a choice of going around the south end of Mt. Eyak or climb­ing straight up to the top.

This very active glac­i­er forms a wall along the fabled Cop­per Riv­er near a his­toric rail­road route that once ser­viced the world’s largest cop­per mine. NOTE: A bridge at Mile 36 of the Cop­per Riv­er High­way is cur­rent­ly (2020) impass­able, with repairs not expect­ed for sev­er­al years. Child’s Glac­i­er is not cur­rent­ly acces­si­ble by road. Con­tact Cor­do­va Ranger Dis­trict for cur­rent venders pro­vid­ing trans­porta­tion options to the far side.  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 6 miles

This ridge route has amaz­ing views of Prince William Sound, Eyak Lake, and the Cop­per Riv­er Delta. About halfway down the trail, there is small shel­ter avail­able for day use or overnight camp­ing. It is avail­able on a first-come first-serve basis.

Difficulty: Moderate

This ski trail weaves through muskeg and for­est and grad­u­al­ly gains ele­va­tion until it ends. The trail leads to a high muskeg that over­looks the Cop­per Riv­er Delta, Heney Range and the Gulf of Alas­ka. This trail is very wet dur­ing all sea­sons exclud­ing win­ter and is not a hik­ing trail. 

Difficulty: Easy

Locat­ed at Mile 17 of the Cop­per Riv­er High­way. An acces­si­ble board­walk leads vis­i­tors to stun­ning views of both the expan­sive wet­lands of the Cop­per Riv­er Delta and the sur­round­ing moun­tains. A wide vari­ety of wet­land ani­mals includ­ing trum­peter swans, moose, brown bear, and shore­birds can be seen in the area, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the spring and fall. The first half of this trail is paved with geoblock, so that it does not have a negative…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

This trail fol­lows Pow­er Creek then leads it’s hik­ers up mul­ti­ple switch­backs. Mid­way, the Cor­do­va Elec­tric Hydropow­er Dam Can be seen from the trail. The last half pass­es by many beaver ponds and hang­ing glaciers. 

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles

The hike begins through the for­est before it begins to climb. There are rock cairns to help guide you along the way. From the top, you’ll have impres­sive views of the Sheri­dan and Sher­man glaciers.

Difficulty: Easy

This is an easy 2.4‑mile hike with excel­lent fish­ing for sock­eye, Dol­ly Var­den and cut­throat. You’ll find access to McKin­ley Trail and McKin­ley Lake pub­lic use cab­ins. It is a well-main­tained trail that has sev­er­al bridges for easy stream cross­ings and inter­pre­tive signs to explain the trail’s history. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

An easy trail, about 0.6 miles long, that will take about 1 hour to hike and leads you to excel­lent views of Child’s Glac­i­er. Impor­tant note: While the For­est Ser­vice still main­tains it, you can’t get here by car, as the Cop­per Riv­er high­way is washed out at Mile 36. You can only access the trail by hir­ing a boat or a plane from town.

Difficulty: Moderate

This is an easy .8‑mile board­walk trail with lots of stairs. The board­walk leads to over­look of the Cop­per Riv­er Delta with many signs. Be sure to bring your cam­era, this is a great place to see moose and bear. 

Difficulty: Easy

This trail has impres­sive views of the Chugach Moun­tains. Short spur trails offer access to five small lakes that are excel­lent for cut­throat fishing.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 5 miles Elevation Gain: 2506 feet

Dis­cov­er year-round recre­ation above Cor­do­va on this gor­geous moun­tain. In win­ter, you can lose your­self among the puffy snow­drifts and pow­der-cov­ered trees as you schuss down the slopes. And in the sum­mer, you’ll find berry pick­ing, hik­ing, and festivals.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles

The 3.3‑mile long trail is most­ly board­walk over muskeg. This is an excel­lent spot to bird-watch, look for water­fowl feed­ing on Eyak Lake. Trum­peter swans fre­quent this lake. Most fly south for the win­ter how­ev­er, up to 100 swans will win­ter here in this ice-free lake. 

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles

This is a steep climb that ends where Crater Lake sits. The first half climbs over rocky sec­tions with numer­ous switch­backs, with mud­dy areas and wood bridges. The sec­ond half con­tin­ues to climb, but at a much nicer grade. At mile 1.2 there is an inter­tie to Ski Hill trail and at the lake there is the option to hike the Alice Smith Inter­tie. The entire loop from Crater Lake to Pow­er Creek Trail­head is 12 miles. Along this trail there is good…  ...more

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Cordova Historic Sites

Eight signs will guide you through the Cop­per Riv­er water­shed land­scape. See if you can vis­it all eight signs on your tour through this upriv­er basin formed by the ancient, glacial Lake Atna!

Look to the south and you’ll see a WWII era build­ing. Troops were sta­tioned at Cordova.

Con­struc­tion of this ear­ly-1900s bridge cost a whop­ping (at the time) $1.4 mil­lion, which earned it the nick­name Mil­lion Dol­lar Bridge. But the bridge quick­ly earned its keep, allow­ing the rail­road to haul cop­per from Ken­ni­cott to the port of Cordova.

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Cordova Museums & Cultural Centers

This cozy, well-regard­ed muse­um in the heart of down­town Cor­do­va will bring you up to speed on the community’s nat­ur­al his­to­ry, Native and pio­neer her­itage, and a tumul­tuous mod­ern era that includ­ed the Great Alas­ka Earth­quake of 1964 and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound.

With exhibits, lore and its own orca whale skele­ton, this muse­um on the Cor­do­va water­front cel­e­brates the cul­ture, art, his­to­ry and eco­log­i­cal wis­dom of the region’s rich Native heritage.

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