Great Escapes: Our guide to Cordova, AK

Pack your bags for wildlife viewing and wilderness adventure.

Purple flowers and green vegetation sit in the foreground, with a glassy lake, glacier. and mountains behind.

Lupine thrives in the glacial soil during the summer.

Table of Contents

On the vast Gulf of Alaska, sits a tiny fishing town you’ve probably never heard of. What it lacks in residents (pop. 2, 528) it makes up for in outdoor recreation, wildlife spotting, and the glorious opportunity to drop off the grid.

City Editor Ben here. Every day I spent in Cordova was steeped in the potential for once-in-a-lifetime experiences, from waking up to the calls of bald eagles to paddling a canoe beside a colossal wall of ice. Here are some suggestions to help you write your own story in The Last Frontier.

A shorebird rests among tidal flats with its beak tucked back beneath its wing, showing only one open eye

To tell dunlins apart from western sandpipers, look for the signature black chest.

Why go?

  • Want to get away from it all? It rarely gets more remote than Cordova, which isn’t connected to the road system. There are only two ways to get in or out — by boat or by plane. With the rugged Chugach Mountains for scenery, why would you ever want to leave?
  • In May, binocular-toting birders flock to the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival to witness the annual migration of approx. 5 million avian travelers. Photograph species like western sandpipers and dunlins as they forage and flutter among the tidal flats.
  • There are world-famous salmon in those waters, just waiting for you to reel them in.
A red school bus with an Alaska license plate holds a sign saying Baja Taco, with an attached wooden patio and building.

Hop on for some grub.

Act like a local:

  • Shop: If you want to look the part, head straight to Copper River Fleece. The lined jackets are trimmed with nature- and Indigenous-themed designs from local artists and will keep you warm whether you’re hiking, kayaking, or skiing.
  • Food: When hunger strikes, look for the red school bus by the harbor. At Baja Taco, you’ll find Mexican Alaskan fare and an espresso bar. Pro tip: Add reindeer sausage or salmon to any breakfast entree for $4.
  • Outdoors: Put on your XTRATUF boots and pack your bear spray for a 1.5 mile hike to Sheridan Glacier.
  • Learn: Visit the Ilanka Cultural Center to browse exhibits about the Native Village of Eyak’s 10,000-year history in the region.
  • Explore: Enlist an outfitter to take you to the literal end of the road to gaze upon Childs and Miles glaciers and the Million Dollar Bridge.
A rundown cannery building and dock sits at the base of a forested hill

A historic cannery still sits on the same property as Orca Adventure Lodge.

Where to stay:

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