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Located in the Valdez area near the mouth of the Copper River, Cordova Alaska is a beautiful destination for both tourists and locals alike. Situated in the Orca Inlet at Prince William Sound, it is surrounded by panoramic views on every side. Visitors to Cordova will find that there is something for everyone, from shopping and fine dining, to fishing, backcountry adventures and glacier tours.
Historically, Cordova was home to the Aleut Indians. In 1902, one of the first oil fields was discovered at Katella, roughly 50 miles from Cordova. Cordova eventually became the railroad terminus and shipping port for copper ore from the Kennicott Mine. Cordova also once had a thriving razor clam industry, the beds of which were destroyed beyond repair in Alaska's 1964 earthquake. Today Cordova's prime industry is fishing and canneries, with some tourism.
Spanish explorer Don Salvador Fidalgo named the adjacent water Puerto Cordova in 1790. The area was inhabitated by the Eyak tribe until European fishermen settled here. By 1889, the town had grown into a busy fish camp and cannery site. A post office was established in 1906. Cordova was the terminus of the Copper River & Northwestern Railway: copper ore from the Kennecott mines arrived here by rail to shipped out. The railroad and town prospered until 1938, when the mine closed. Commercial fishing in Cordova supplanted mining as the basis of the town’s economy. The Exxon Valdez oil spill devastated the herring fishery and other fisheries here. The recovery has been slow.
Cordova has the Reluctant Fisherman Inn and Prince William Motel for accommodations, several restaurants, a laundromat, groceries, auto rentals at the airport; boat, bike and kayak rentals. Cordova Outboard (907) 424-3220, provides sales and services and there are 2 banks; a variety of small shops; a library, recreation center and swimming pool; and a small boat harbor. Camping at Odiak Camper Park (flat gravel sites).

Cordova can be reached via plane, ferry or cruise ship. Visitors can explore some of the 5 major glaciers, either by guided or unguided tours, go fishing on a day trip or go on a fly-in adventure to one of the more remote lodges. Other activities include exploring the marine wildlife in the area via sea kayaking, or just take a hike around the Cordova area. Those desiring more urban entertainment can visit the Cordova Historical Museum for insight into the city's past, or enjoy one of the many restaurants or shops.
Things to do
The 50-mile Copper River Highway is for the most part a gravel road that serves as the gateway to the Copper River Delta, a wildlife-rich wilderness with numerous opportunities for hiking, fishing and birding. Millions of birds and waterfowl stop and rest along the delta during the spring and fall, including 7 million western sandpipers and the entire population of West Coast dunlins. Birding activity peaks the first weekend of May when the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival is staged and birders from around the world arrive to enjoy the largest migration in the U.S.
Equally impressive are the twin wonders at the end of the highway: breathtaking Childs Glacier and the Million Dollar Bridge. A bridge on the highway is currently washed out at Mile 36, which means the only way to reach the bridge and Childs Glacier is by taking a boat tour up the Copper River. At least two local tour companies were offering this service as of the summer of 2013; more information is available from the local chamber of commerce. Childs Glacier is one of the most active glaciers in Alaska, advancing some 500 feet a year, dumping icebergs into the Copper River with thunderous calving just 1,200 feet away from an observation deck. Just beyond the glacier is the Million Dollar Bridge, a four-span trestle completed in 1910 and put out of commission by the 1964 earthquake. The bridge has since been rehabilitated and you can now walk out to the middle to see Childs Glacier downstream and Miles Glacier upstream.
To appreciate Cordova’s long and colorful history, a visit to the Cordova Historical Museum is a must. The Ilanka Cultural Center Museum preserves and exhibits a collection of prehistoric, historic and contemporary tribal artifacts from Prince William Sound and the Copper River Delta. A complete orca whale skeleton hangs in the lobby.
Childs Glacier (near Cordova)
Child's Glacier is certainly Alaska's most spectacular roadside glacier--it's the only one where you can see calving. And when the calving is active in high summer, you'll see a major event every 15 minutes. Some of these collapsing icebergs are so large, they send a 10-foot wave rocketing across the river and crashing onto the opposite shore. Look for salmon splashed into the forest!

If you're standing anywhere near the shore when this happens, you will get washed into the river. That's why they've built a viewing platform--and why you should use it. Child's Glacier is 400 yards across the river from the viewing platform, so you can't walk up to it like you can Exit, Byron, or Matanuska Glaciers.
Directions: Cordova is an hour flight from Anchorage. Then, it's a 1 hr drive to the glacier.
Distance: 190 miles east of Anchorage.
Drive Time: 3 hours.
Explore: If you visit Cordova, make a day out of exploring the Copper River Highway (which ends at the glacier), Child's Glacier itself, and the nearby Million Dollar Bridge
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