15 Best Things to Do in Cordova (Alaska)

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Located at the mouth of the Copper River, Cordova is a town that can only be reached by air or by sea as no roads connect to any other town.

The landscape is truly magnificent, boasting mountains, thriving wetlands, forests, and many different rivers and lakes. This makes it an excellent place to enjoy a range of outdoor activities. These include skiing, hiking, wildlife watching and photography, sport fishing and even flight seeing.

A visit to Cordova is both exciting and relaxing and you are sure to enjoy your time in Alaska when visiting the town. Here are some of the top things to do on your next visit to Cordova.

1. Cordova History Museum

Cordova History MuseumSource: Cordova Historical Museum / Facebook
Cordova History Museum

This diverse museum exhibits examples and stories of early explorers to the area, the Native culture, Copper River North Western Railway and Kennicott Mine era. Then later the growth of the commercial fishing industry.

Visitors enjoy learning about the Eyak people, the history of European exploration, Alaska’s first oil boom at Katalla and more recent history such as the Good Friday Earthquake, and Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. The whole visit will take about an hour if you look at each exhibit and story.

The Cordova Historical Society also runs a small gift shop which offers local books and other items for sale if you want to purchase a souvenir or to learn a little more.

2. Miles Glacier Bridge

Miles Glacier BridgeSource: akphotoc / shutterstock
Miles Glacier Bridge

Although this bridge, also known as Million Dollar Bridge, is now no longer accessible by road, the end of the bridge and glacier views can still be accessed by boat trip. If you wish though you can drive to as far as the road will allow you, being careful not to go too far out.

If you want to get close to the Miles Glacier however you will need to take a boat or sea plane tour to get you excellent views and close to the ice.

3. Ilanka cultural center

Ilanka Cultural CenterSource: Alaska Marine Highway (Alaska State Ferry) / Facebook
Ilanka Cultural Center

This cultural center strives to preserve and explain the rich history of Native Alaskans and how the landscape and ecosystem has shaped the way of life. The museum contains a collection of prehistoric, historic and modern tribal exhibits from the Prince William Sound and Copper River Delta.

There are also travelling exhibits and items on loan that you can view here. One of the most spectacular items is the complete Orca skeleton that is on display in the entrance hall. The whale became stranded and died in Cordova, but members of the local community collected the bones to be enjoyed by all.

You can find the center on Nicholoff Way in Cordova, and make sure you check the website before your visit to see if there are any events.

4. Kayak Island State Marine Park

Kayak Island, AlaskaSource: flyridgeline.com
Kayak Island

The island is famed for being the landing site where the first European, Georg Steller, first stepped foot on Alaska in July 1741. You can see the famous landing site and learn a little more about this expedition during your visit.

You can also enjoy camping, hiking and wildlife watching and learning about the history of the area. The island is 22 miles long so there is plenty of space to explore.

This remote state park has few facilities and is only reachable by tour which means you can have much of the island to yourself to explore. It is a long trip at around 60 miles from Cordova, but if you are interested in the history and remote landscape, it is definitely worth the trip.

5. Mt. Eyak Ski Area

Mt. Eyak Ski AreaSource: Mt. Eyak Ski Area / Facebook
Mt. Eyak Ski Area

If you are interested in doing some skiing in Cordova, then you should look no further than Mount Eyak. There are around 30 different trail options, including an easy downhill trail for beginners. The mountain offers easy, moderate and difficult runs meaning there is something for everyone.

The ski area has a full-service rental shop, facilities and food can be purchased at the Snack Shack. For winter skiing visit between December and April on weekends and during holidays but it is also a popular place for hikers and bikers during the summer months too.

Mt. Eyak is situated right above Cordova and it is easy to get to the ski area using the historic 1939 American single chair lift.

6. Fisherman’s Memorial

Fisherman's Memorial, CordovaSource: Ray Doherty / Facebook
Fisherman’s Memorial

Found near the cultural center on Nicholoff Way, the fisherman’s memorial stands proud looking out over the small boat harbour. The bronze statue was commissioned in the 1980s, as a homage to the fishermen who have lost their lives in the unforgiving waters.

The fisherman at the wheel of his trawler in turbulent seas is a nice tribute and a top site for visitors in Cordova.

7. Helicopter and Air Tours

Ridgeline Aviation Glacier TourSource: flyridgeline.com/
Ridgeline Aviation Glacier Tour

If you want to get to the most remote areas and see the Glaciers and wildlife from a different point of view, then air tours are the most adventurous way to do just that.

You can take a chartered flight and decide on where you want to go and how long you want to spend there. Whether you want to be dropped somewhere to enjoy hiking or a flyover to view the beautiful scenery and spot birds and wildlife.

Tour operators include Childs Glacier Adventures, and Ridgeline aviation.

8. Alaskan Hotel and Bar

Alaskan Hotel And Bar, CordovaSource: Gina McBride‎ / Facebook
Alaskan Hotel And Bar

A place to visit for great food and drinks and a relaxed atmosphere in Cordova. You are welcomed by the friendly staff and there is a good choice of regular American food on the menu. The bar is rustic and there are a few beers on tap.

The hotel offers cheap basic accommodation for those wishing to stay, but many just visit to enjoy the bar and relax after work or sightseeing. You can find Alaskan Hotel and Bar on First Street in Cordova.

9. Child’s Glacier Tour

Child’s GlacierSource: Wildnerdpix / shutterstock
Child’s Glacier

Childs glacier is a popular tour from Cordova and there are few different tour companies you can choose from, but the itineraries are usually pretty much the same.

Start at the Copper River Delta boarding a boat that is specifically designed for making its way through this difficult river system safely. Navigate the river towards the Childs Glacier viewing area, taking the last leg of the journey on foot or by shuttle.

At the Childs Glacier viewing area you can spend a few hours to admiring the glacier from one of the many platforms, and perhaps hike the trail to the famous Million Dollar Bridge.

10. Reluctant Fisherman Inn

View From The Reluctant Fisherman InnSource: The Reluctant Fisherman Inn / Facebook
View From The Reluctant Fisherman Inn

Located on the shore of Cordova harbour the Reluctant Fisherman Inn is a popular place to stay in the town. With excellent views of the harbour and beyond it is a great base to explore the surrounding area.

The restaurant serves some great local food and offers breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Even if you are not staying at the hotel you can get a table for any of these meals. Top dishes to try include the Copper River Salmon, fish tacos and fresh Halibut.

11. Power Creek Trail

Crater LakeSource: Walledlife Photography / shutterstock
Crater Lake

A moderately difficult trek, Power Creek trail follows the water then past views of the Cordova Electric Hydropower Dam to the trail head. You can also loop from Power Creek to Crater lake to make the trail even longer.

The Power Creek Trail is around 4 miles but if you take the whole loop it is around 12 miles to the Crater. It is excellent place to explore with kids, take a run or for a lovely hike in the beautiful scenery.

12. The Little Cordova Bakery

The Little Cordova BakerySource: The Little Cordova Bakery / Facebook
The Little Cordova Bakery

A charming little bakery owned by a local providing homemade pastries, savouries and muffins and scones. Each day there is a choice of each and sometimes a specialty depending on what the owner decides on that day.

There’s also a great selection of coffees and other hot and cold drinks. A nice place to grab breakfast or stop for a coffee and a catch up.

13. Orca Adventure Lodge

Orca Adventure LodgeSource: Robert HM Voors / shutterstock
Orca Adventure Lodge

This Lodge offers a one stop adventure holiday for anyone wanting to explore Cordova. They provide accommodation and offer guided fishing trips by boat or by plane, hiking, kayaking, and glacier tours at a room only or all-inclusive basis.

The waterfront property is located a few miles from Cordova at the Orca Cannery and offers views of nesting bald eagles in the forest behind, sea otters playing in the beach in front and a beautiful view wherever you look.

If you are looking for a package holiday in Cordova which includes everything you want to do in the are for a price, then this lodge is a good choice.

14. River Rafting and Sea Kayaking

Kayaking in Prince William SoundSource: Dene' Miles / shutterstock
Kayaking In Prince William Sound

Cordova gives you an excellent base location to explore Prince William Sound by Sea Kayak. You can explore this area by day trip or perhaps on an overnight or multi-day adventure. If you book with a tour operator you can have everything you need for your trip all included in the cost.

The Copper river is a great place for floating and rafting. Whether you want to explore the scenery and the wildlife, or looking to do some river fishing, a rafting experience in Cordova is a great activity to try.

15. Bird and Wildlife watching

Copper River DeltaSource: Wildnerdpix / shutterstock
Copper River Delta

In and around Cordova, the main wildlife to see are the spawning salmon and the shorebirds. The best places to see the salmon are Hatchery Creek and McKinley Lake, you can combine viewing the migration with hiking and enjoying the surrounding area.

The Copper River Delta is a great place to witness the shorebird migration. Every year, millions of shorebirds migrate from South America into Alaska beginning in May. Swans, geese, ducks, shorebirds, and bald eagle can all be spotted here.

The Delta and mud flats are also known to draw other animals and if you are lucky you may see brown bear or moose during your visit.

15 Best Things to Do in Cordova (Alaska):

  • Cordova History Museum
  • Miles Glacier Bridge
  • Ilanka cultural center
  • Kayak Island State Marine Park
  • Mt. Eyak Ski Area
  • Fisherman's Memorial
  • Helicopter and Air Tours
  • Alaskan Hotel and Bar
  • Child’s Glacier Tour
  • Reluctant Fisherman Inn
  • Power Creek Trail
  • The Little Cordova Bakery
  • Orca Adventure Lodge
  • River Rafting and Sea Kayaking
  • Bird and Wildlife watching