The best Tourist Attractions in Cordova, Alaska

The best Tourist Attractions in Cordova, Alaska

*The best Tourist Attractions in Cordova, Alaska

Fishing has always been Cordova’s lifeblood. The Eyak Indians camped there to take advantage of the huge salmon runs and plentiful shellfish. Settlers were also impressed: They built the first cannery there in 1887, and they made Cordova the terminus of a railroad, completed in 1911, running from the Kennecott copper mines. With millions of dollars of copper ore shipping from its docks, the little fishing village became, briefly, a boomtown. But after the cost of copper fell in 1938, the mines closed and the train quit running. Fishing was again the dominant industry.

1. The best Attractions & Things to Do in Cordova, Alaska

Cordova Historical Museum in Cordova, Alaska

The Cordova Historical Museum has besides artifacts from the town’s past an ever-changing menu of videos shown in the afternoon. Some are historical, some are about local fishing and mining. You can also pick up a walking-tour brochure there. 

Prince William Sound Science Center in Cordova, Alaska

When your ship docks, you’ll probably notice the Prince William Sound Science Center that sits at the entrance to the harbor, overlooking Orca Inlet (locals describe it as “the best office location in town”). Center scientists study the sound’s ecosystems, plants and animals. There aren’t yet any exhibits, but depending on how busy they are, someone might be able to show you around and introduce you to staff members, or just hand out some literature and let you enjoy the view from the deck. 

Copper River Highway in Cordova, Alaska

Though the little town is charming, the real attractions lie inland: We recommend that you take the 50-mi/80-km Copper River Highway east across the Copper River Delta it’s an enormous, beautiful wetland. (Before you go, pick up the brochure Copper River Delta from the U.S. 

delta beavers  in Cordova, Alaska

The delta supports more migrating shorebirds than any other wetland in the Western Hemisphere. (We’re told that it also has more beavers than anyplace else in the world.) After you’ve driven about 6 mi/10 km from Cordova, start looking for trumpeter swans and dusky Canada geese, as well as owls, eagles, hawks and arctic terns. But don’t concentrate so much on the birds that you miss the mammals: Moose, brown and black bears, deer, otters, mink and of course beavers also inhabit the wetland. A few markers along the road point out the wildlife you might see.

Alaganik Slough in Cordova, Alaska

At Mile 17, a side road to the right leads to Alaganik Slough. At the end of the 3-mi/5-km road, you’ll find wildlife-observation platforms and a boardwalk over the marsh. (You can also avail yourself of the picnic tables and rest roo
ms there.)

Chugach Mountains  in Cordova, Alaska

At Mile 19 (marked by a Forest Service sign), you can hike along the Haystack Trail it leads through a thick forest, over wooden boardwalks and ends at an overlook commanding a sweeping view of the delta and, in the far distance, the Chugach Mountains. Look for moose browsing in the willow thickets and waterfowl and raptors in the sky.

Million Dollar Bridge

The highway ends at the Million Dollar Bridge, and you’ll see why: The third span collapsed during the earthquake in 1964. The bridge stands as a monument to big dreams dashed by Alaska’s unforgiving environment.

Childs Glacier in Cordova, Alaska

To the left, just before the bridge, is a side road to a covered viewing platform overlooking the face of Childs Glacier. While you wait for house-size chunks of ice to drop into the river, read the display plaques and learn a bit about the area. But don’t wander along the river bank away from the viewing area big waves caused by falling ice have injured people, and local bears sometimes prowl the banks, foraging for unlucky salmon washed ashore by the waves.