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Cordova Travel Guide, Alaska

Cordova is a tiny, isolated fishing community in Alaska with a mild, but wet climate. The town’s existence is based on fishing and so fishing is the main, if not the only, source of income for the people living here. But this does not stop it from being the hidden gem of Prince William Sound.

In the past the area attracted copper miners and oil explorers, but over the years the main drag remained fishing due to its location in an area abundant in shellfish and salmon. Such a place could not be overlooked by the Americans who came in 1889 to “get a piece of the cake” and built a cannery. Now the docks are lined with canneries and the harbor is full of commercial fishing boats.

The population is made up of about 2,500 people of different nationalities including Eyak Natives. They are mostly fisherman and even more (that don’t live here year-round) come when fishing starts in spring, but the town has a reputation for making room for just about anybody and you will also find artists, intellectuals and nature lovers. Everybody knows everybody in this small place where everything is within walking distance. You can wonder around streets dotted with sun-worn bungalows, a few good restaurants and a handful of shops (that don’t stay open long if the sun shines), without worrying you won’t have a place to park your car as in fact you don’t even need a car!

This tiny place has lured many important names like Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, and John Wayne. They all came to enjoy the top of Mount Eyak or the top of the mountains in Sun Valley, Idaho on a clear sky. The view they lays before your eyes is spectacular. The thing that makes it possible is the chairlift that can take up to six people. This top attraction should not be missed and I’ll guarantee you will feel like a star “on the top of the world”.

Another attraction is the Prince William Sound Science Center established in part with settlement money from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Located down on the docks, this independent, nonprofit research facility focuses on the complex ecosystem of the Sound. If you ant to visit the facility, tours are available upon request.

52 miles out of town on the old Copper River Road, one of the few roads to be found in the area, are two major touristy points: the impressive Childs Glacier and the Million Dollar Bridge. Childs Glacier is a 300-foot wall of ice sits across the Copper River and next to the bridge that was damaged during the 1964 earthquake and hasn't been fixed since but you can still walk across it.

Still in the area is the Copper River Delta, a rich, immensely lush and diverse ecosystem and breeding ground for thousands of waterfowl. The delta is fed by six glacial rivers of which the Copper River is a strong, turbulent river that produces highly prized red wild salmon, considered the state’s most delicious because of the layer of belly fat and firm, meaty flesh. No wonder the place fills up with commercial fishermen who fish 24-hour openings then return to Cordova just to prepare for the next opening.

But there’s another draw besides fishing, bird watching that attracts many birdwatchers especially during the annual Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival held around late April and early May. Millions of migrating birds can be seen from the 37 miles of trails on the delta and the dozen wilderness public-use cabins.

The otherwise quiet Cordova bustles with birdwatchers in spring and with fishermen in spring and summer, just to go back to sleep tills the next spring rolls up.

But in winter the town does not die out completely and you can come to visit in the first week of February when the Ice Worm Festival is held. As its name suggests the celebrated character is a 100-foot ice worm.

With so many attractions and things to do, Cordova can fill your order.

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