Fast Ferry, Chenega in Prince William Sound
It’s getting harder to find the real Alaska. Towns along the inside passage can be crowded and touristy but Cordova, in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, offers an escape from the cruise ship playgrounds and a warm and still genuine all-Alaskan greeting. This fun new 2-day 1 night, trip to Cordova (from Anchorage) packs a lot in and can be added to most any trip in or out of Anchorage.
You might want to arrange a picnic lunch before getting to Cordova since the town is about 12 miles to the left and the glacier is aboutr 38 miles to the right. There is not much at the airport.
Amazing Childs Glacier and Copper River
Day 1- Sunday Monday Wednesday or Friday
Take the short flight from Anchorage to Cordova this morning. Upon arrival, pick up your rental SUV across the lot from Cordova’s Merle “Mudhole” Smith airport.
Allow about 3 hours round trip for your drive out to Childs Glacier and the Million Dollar Bridge. The gravel road is in good condition but adjust your speed accordingly and don’t rush. We saw Trumpeter Swans along the delta of the huge Copper River.
Prepare to be astonished at the size and activity of the massive Childs Glacier. Most anywhere else in the world this amazing natural wonder would be the pride of a whole country--with crowds to match--but in Cordova the chances are you’ll have the place to yourself. This quote says it best: “There are many jewels in the Chugach National Forest, yet few command more respect and awe than the thundering Childs Glacier in the Cordova Ranger District.”
Dress warmly for your glacier visit and bring binoculars for viewing the calving icebergs. If you have a video camera, listen first for the crack of the ice then film the splash the berg makes falling into the river. (We also spotted a seal swimming by in the silty river—he had a salmon in his mouth.) There are excellent picnic facilities, fire pits, and restrooms at the glacier.
Obey all the posted safety signs at the observation and picnic area and stay well away from the riverbank. The face of the glacier is equivalent to a 30-story building and calving icebergs have caused waves to reach the viewing area.
Cordova Boat Harbor
Cross the Million Dollar Bridge, constructed for the railroad to the historic Kennecott Copper Mine in 1905. (Learn more about this interesting history at the Cordova Museum.) Don't miss the impressive evidence of the 1964 earthquake. The 9.2 magnitude quake caused one section of the bridge to slip entirely off its foundation. The buckled guardrail and exposed rebar are still visible.
Return to Cordova and take the afternoon off.—you earned it. Along with the excellent museum there is a municipal swimming pool open to the public, a couple of small galleries and a fun visitor center staffed by friendly local folks who sometimes bring their pets to the office. Your overnight in Cordova is at the Reluctant Fisherman Inn. Ask around for a fun place for dinner. (We liked the halibut and chips at the Powder House—at the edge of town—the he menu says: “I got blasted at the Powder House.”) Take an evening stroll along the marina, packed with working fishing boats and the occasional otter.
Day 2-Monday Tuesday Thursday or Saturday
Place your finger on the pulse of Cordova during breakfast. (We liked the Killer Whale Café on Main St.) then drop your rental car at the Cordova ferry terminal and board the fast, high tech, Alaska Ferry Chenega for the trip to Whittier. The interior of the sleek ferry is beautifully decorated with original Alaskan artwork. There is a small gift shop aboard and a cafeteria serving pricey food. Sail west across Prince William Sound—sometimes threading a course in between the icebergs from the mighty Columbia Glacier. Upon arrival in Whittier stash your bags at the 26 Glacier office and take the excursion to College Fjord to view up close the glaciers, sea life and ice bergs. You will return to Whittier just in time to board the Alaska Railroad which will proceed through the historic-5 mile-Anton Andersen tunnel to arrive at Portage then continue along impressive Turnagain Arm to Anchorage.
Alaska Railroad along Turnagain Arm
*Booking fee is waived if you purchase this trip before or after any of our trips
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