Cordova is located on the southeast shore of Orca Inlet on the east side of Prince William Sound. Cordova is accessible only by plane (to Mudhole Smith Airport), by boat and by Alaska State Ferry.
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; recreation center and swimming pool; and a small boat harbor. The Cordova Center holds the library with free internet and WiFi, the museum, city hall and a theater. Camping at Shelter Cove 0.6 mile on Orca Road, or Odiak Camper Park (flat gravel sites). Reserve sites at the Bidarki Recreation Center phone (907) 424-7282.
- Cordova Fishermen’s Memorial, The Southeasterly, by local sculptor Joan Bugbee Jackson is a favorite photo subject for visitors.
- Cordova Historical Museum in the Cordova Center offers an excellent overview of the area’s history; open year round.
- Ilanka Cultural Center holds artifacts and contemporary artwork from local Eyak tribe. On site gift shop has beautiful and authentic crafts for purchase. Open weekdays 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
- Watch Birds. The Copper River Delta is one of the most important stopover places in the Western Hemisphere for the largest shorebird migration in the world. Shorebird Festival is held in May. See trumpeter swans in summer at Alaganik Slough.
- The Chugach National Forest Cordova Ranger District office is located in downtown Cordova: Natural history displays, information on trails, cabins and other activities on national forest lands. Visit the Forest Service website.
- Drive the 49-mile Copper River Highway to see the Million Dollar Bridge, Childs Glacier and the Copper River Delta.
- Contact the Chamber of Commerce for details on Cordova’s special events: Iceworm Festival (February), Shorebird Festival (May), PWSSC Copper River Nouveau (June), Old Time 4th of July, Copper River Wild Salmon Days (July).