Alaska Excursions

Alaska Excursions

A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.

Iditarod 41

Photos and stories from the last great race.

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Quirky Cordova close to nature

The Childs Glacier and the Million Dollar Bridge which spans the Copper River outside of Cordova. The glacier viewing areas are on the peninsula of land to left of the aerial photograph.

Anchorage Daily News

The Childs Glacier and the Million Dollar Bridge which spans the Copper River outside of Cordova. The glacier viewing areas are on the peninsula of land to left of the aerial photograph.

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Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America, is seen just before sunset on a late March flightseeing trip. The south peak, right, is the summit at 20,320 feet; the north peak stands 19,470 feet high. Climbing season on the big mountain is May through July.

Alaska can be divided into five broad regions.

Northern Alaska

The Arrigetch Peaks are found in Gates of the Arctic National Park, which is in the Brooks Range.

In this area above the Arctic Circle people depend on the land and its many resources.

Southeast Alaska

The waterfront at Ketchikan.

See America's northernmost rain forest or a humpback whale.

Western Alaska

A recreational boat follows the channel markers leading into Iliuliuk Harbor near Unalaska's Church of the Holy Ascension. Unalaska and its companion settlement, Dutch Harbor, are in the Aleutian Islands.

This area is home to the country's busiest fishing port.

The Interior

The Alaska Range is the Interior's defining feature. In Denali National Park, Wonder Lake reflects Mount McKinley reflects at sunset.

This vast area is alive with gold mining and plenty of outdoor activities.

South east

Southcentral Alaska has the state's largest city, Anchorage, but it also has scenic wonders such as Passage Canal at Whittier.

Also known as Alaska's Panhandle, the area is filled with forests, glaciers and hiking trails.

UNFORGETTABLE: Fish, birds and culture are draws for visitors.

A hidden gem nestled on the Orca Inlet, Cordova is a gateway to some of the most tranquil and majestically beautiful landscapes in Alaska. Accessible only by boat or plane, Cordova is a picturesque and quirky fishing town with a friendly ambience.

"I think more than anything else it's the people and the beauty of the town itself," said Leroy Gilkison, a longtime resident and local businessman.

At times, Cordova is overlooked as a tourist destination, possibly because of its remoteness, especially with only one road -- the Copper River Highway -- leading into town and ending just beyond the Million Dollar Bridge 50 miles away. But for those who know of Cordova, it becomes a destination, part of Alaska that can't be forgotten or omitted from any travel plans.

"I really like that there are no roads in or out," said Aurora Lang, the curator of collections and exhibits for the Cordova Historical Museum. "It forces people to rely on each other a little more."

Originally, Cordova flourished as a boomtown of copper ore, a rich natural resource that was found in the Wrangell Mountains. However, it ultimately became a fishing hot spot, with a busy summer season that even has the locals planning around the opener in the beginning of May in order to avoid being eaten out of house and home by hungry fishermen scrambling to fill nets and bank on profitable salmon.

Nature lovers and photographers will find the Copper River Delta, just outside of town, a promising location to spy on Alaska's wilderness, with dozens of migrating birds flourishing in the acres of stunning wetland. Each year, shorebirds flock to the delta in an awe-inspiring spectacle that draws locals and visitors. However, a reluctant yet handsome group of swans can be seen year round on the shores of Lake Eyak.

Another reason to visit Cordova is the local glaciers. Childs Glacier, which is actively calving, or shedding large pieces of ice, allows visitors to see the transformation of the natural landscape right in front of their own eyes. The Sheridan Glacier also offers phenomenal views. Both can be seen by booking a flightseeing tour.

ATTRACTIONS

Childs Glacier

Considered an active glacier, Childs Glacier boasts spectacular photographic opportunities for visitors of the glacier calving. During summer, calving can occur about every 15 minutes. Flightseeing tours are also available to see the entirety of the glacier.

Where: About 50 miles from downtown Cordova

When: Year-round

Cost: Free

Million Dollar Bridge

The Million Dollar Bridge, also known as the Miles Glacier Bridge, is a historic site. Built in the beginning of the 20th century, the bridge was constructed to transport copper ore to the Cordova port. The bridge is considered the end of the road and has been damaged over the years, especially by the 1964 earthquake.

Where: About 50 miles from Cordova

When: Year-round

Cost: Free

Cordova Historical Museum

This exceptional museum gives visitors a glimpse into the rich history of the town. It includes information on oil and mining, fishing and homestead life. The museum also features art, including a couple of Sydney Lawrence paintings as well as community artwork. It provides a fun look at what makes up Cordova.

Where: Downtown Cordova, First Street

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday in the summer, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday in the winter

Cost: Free; donations encouraged

Phone: 907-424-6665

Web: www.cordovamuseum.org

Ilanka Cultural Center

This cultural center houses one of only five complete orca skeletons in the world as well as a wide collection of local Native artifacts and contemporary art. The center also plays host to a number of traveling exhibits and loans from community members, including a 100-year-old woven basket.

Where: Near the New Harbor, 110 Nicholoff Way

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday year-round

Cost: Free; donations accepted

Phone: 907-424-7903

Web: www.ilankacenter.org

Mount Eyak Ski Area

Just minutes from downtown Cordova, Mount Eyak allows for spectacular skiing and snowboarding with a nearly 1,000-foot lift, three runs and more than 600 acres of backcountry skiing. Mount Eyak is home to the oldest ski lift in North America, which was brought to the mountain from Sun Valley, Idaho.

Where: Cordova

When: November through April on weekends and holidays, snow dependent

Cost: $15 per day, $3 per run

Phone: 907-424-7260

Web: www.cordovachamber.com

Nirvana Park

The park was founded more than 70 years ago by a German immigrant. Since its creation, it has gone through many stages of improvement. Today, Nirvana Park is a recreational spot for visitors interested in hiking, swimming and boating.

Where: A mile outside Cordova

When: Year-round

Cost: Free

EVENTS

The Cordova Chamber of Commerce, 907-424-7260 or cordovachamber.com, is the source of more information on these events.

Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival

The Shorebird Festival lures bird lovers from around the world as millions of birds are drawn to the Copper River Delta in their spring migration. The event is a nature lover's paradise and includes guest lecturers and related workshops as well as photographic opportunities.

Where: Copper River Delta

When: May

Old Time Downtown Fourth of July Celebration

Join locals in a celebration of summertime and independence with a parade and fireworks. Also enjoy live music and plenty of local potluck cuisine, including freshly caught fish from the town's own waters.

Where: Downtown Cordova

When: Fourth of July

Cordova Fungus Festival

Each fall, Cordova fungus pluckers unite to celebrate the almighty mushroom with gourmet meal creations, workshops, lectures and fungus picking in the Chugach National Forest.

Where: Downtown Cordova

When: September

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