The Best Wildlife Viewing Spots in Cordova
If you like seeing wildlife, you’ll love Cordova—it’s an area full of opportunities to see creatures big and small in their natural habitats. The month of May is a particularly active time. And since the trees haven’t blossomed yet, it’s easier to see through them to spot wolves, coyotes, and moose out on the Copper River Delta.
May, too, is when the famous Copper River Shorebird Festival happens. It’s a fun, 4-day celebration of the 5 million or so shorebirds that converge on the Copper River Delta during their northern migration. Some of the birds travel from as far away as Peru!
If you can’t make the festival, you’ll find plenty to explore on your own out along the Copper River Highway. A springtime hot spot is Alaganik Slough, where there are massive numbers of hooligan (or candlefish). Walk the boardwalk and take advantage of the observation deck and wildlife blind to look for seals, sea lions, and birds who arrive to feast on the fish.
Here are some other wildlife-viewing hot spots:
- 10 Mile Pavilion. You’ll find this spot between the town and the airport at Mile 13, on the right-hand (south) side of the road. On either side of the road are big ponds with active beaver lodges, tons of waterfowl, and lots of other wildlife. Don’t miss the interpretive signs to learn about the waterfowl of the Copper River Delta, fish lifecycles, and other fun facts.
- Mile 25. Just past the intersection with Saddlebag Road is a man-made spawning salmon channel.
- 18 Mile and One Eye Pond. Each have day-use picnic areas; walk the trail around the pond and look for the Coho salmon that come to spawn.
- Power Creek Road / Hatchery Creek. Just past the end of Eyak Lake, you’ll find a little creek with a natural run of sockeye salmon. It was developed into a bit of hatchery years ago; while that no longer exists, you can still see some sockeye salmon spawning, along with tons of eagles and even sometimes bears (be bear aware!).
Best Wildlife Viewing Spots in Cordova
Best Birding Locations
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
Salmon Viewing Spots
Look for the channel to a beaver pond. The channel provides access to the pond for silver salmon fry and can support up to 25,400 young salmon. The fallen trees and brush provide cover from predators. Here you will also find access to Saddlebag Glacier USFA Trail, a 3‑mile trail to Saddlebag Lake, this is the best trail for mountain biking in the district.
While on the highway look for the McKinley Lake Cabin sign and trailhead. From the trailhead, a 2 1⁄2 mile hike will take you to the Forest Service public cabin. Sockeye salmon viewing opportunities exist here and at the location another 75 yards past the cabin. Salmon viewing at this location is from mid July to mid August with best viewing in late July or early August.
This remote site is six miles north of Cordova on the east shore of Nelson Bay and is accessible by boat. Most spawning occurs with pink and chum salmon in intertidal areas and a short distance upstream. Best viewing times are mid-July through late August with best viewing in early August.
This is an undeveloped site that provides viewing opportunities of Sockeye salmon from Power Creek Road — four miles northeast of Cordova. Salmon will be in the creek from early July to mid-August with the best viewing in mid to late July. There is parking where the creek passes under the road. Photo: Wendy Ranney