Alaska | Cordova: Alaska`s Hidden Treasure

Alaska | Cordova: Alaska`s Hidden Treasure

About this trip

Nestled between the mouth of the Copper River and the Orca Inlet, the small town of Cordova – reached only by ferry or flight – provides a perfect location for exploring the pristine natural wonders of nearby Chugach National Forest and Prince William Sound. This 9-day program invites students to discover the “The Last Frontier” through engaging activities such as canoeing on the Copper River Delta, hiking rainforest trails, and assisting scientists in collecting data for research. You'll also learn about the natural forces, from geologic activity to glacier melt, that have shaped the region over time, not only impacting the land but also the communities living there – past, present, and future. 

Highlights

  • Hike through three complete ecosystems at Heney Ridge Trail.
  • Discuss local conservation initiatives during a visit with the Alaska Audubon Society.
  • Learn about the world’s largest population of sea otters with a researcher at Orca Inlet.
  • Embark on an ice trekking excursion at Sheridan Glacier and discuss the effects of climate change.
  • Examine topics of geology and plate tectonics in the Copper River Delta, where evidence of Alaska's powerful 1964 earthquake is still visible.
10 Travelers

$3,195

Land Cost

Group size

Book 9 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

16 Travelers

$3,195

Land Cost

Group size

Book 14 travelers and 2 group
leaders travel for free

24 Travelers

$3,195

Land Cost

Group size

Book 21 travelers and 3 group
leaders travel for free

Anchorage

Day 1

Upon arrival in Anchorage travel by shuttle to the hotel. Meals are not included on your arrival day. *K12 program only.

Overnight at Anchorage Airport Hotel

Cordova

Day 2

After an early breakfast, visit the Alaska Audubon Society for a talk on Audubon Alaska's conservation initiatives. Later, take a shuttle to the airport for your flight to Cordova. Upon arrival, meet your guide and transfer to the lodge, enjoying some initial sights along the way, including swan nests on the delta and the Cordova town center. After an orientation and lunch, travel to the Power Creek drainage area and walk on a trail above town for a panoramic view of the area. Explore the rich diversity of the flora and fauna of the area. Possible themes for investigation include geology of the area, plate tectonics, glaciology, marine mammals of Prince William Sound, and avian biology. Note: All activities are subject to accessibility, road conditions, and weather; a suitable alternative will be arranged if any activities are canceled for reasons outside our control.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Orca Adventure Lodge

Cordova

Day 3

Hike through the Heney Ridge Trail to explore the rainforest, walking through three complete ecosystems along the trail's seven-mile route. As this activity is the most strenuous of the program, there will be additional guides to accommodate the group's different levels of hikers.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Orca Adventure Lodge

Cordova

Day 4

Today explore the world's largest concentration of sea otters and other marine mammals in Prince William Sound. Board your comfortable catamaran vessel and begin your journey in Orca Inlet. These shallow waters are ideal habitat for sea otters, and special attention will be paid to females and their pups. Learn the story of these fascinating creatures that have been brought back from near-extinction. Next, head farther afield to the ocean entrances to look for marine mammals of other varieties. Depending on conditions, numerous other species can be seen. The environmentally threatened Steller sea lions are regularly seen, as well as Dall's porpoises. Appearing near the bow of the boat, these playful creatures are often mistaken for small orcas with their black-and-white coloring. As you near the open waters, all eyes will be scanning for larger marine mammals as both orcas and a variety of other whales often frequent the area. Humpbacks are the largest in this near-shore environment, while gray and occasionally even beaked whales are spotted. This is also a major nesting area for numerous species of sea ducks. Learn about these vulnerable birds and how they have been affected by recent variations in sea temperature. Kittiwakes, murres, and even puffins inhabit this rugged coast. In the late afternoon, visit the museum and Eyak cultural center in Cordova.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Orca Adventure Lodge

Cordova

Day 5

After breakfast, depart for a full day tour of the Copper River Delta, the highlight being a float down the Alaganik Slough. As you travel the historic Copper River Highway, built on the old railroad bed of the Copper River and Northwestern Railroad, watch for moose, eagles, beaver, and the occasional bear, and take in the expansive views of marsh and wetland. See examples of uplift and subsidence from the 1964 earthquake as your guide explains how it affected this area. Search for wildlife on your hike to view the mighty Copper River at Mile 27. After a brief break to explore the dunes of the Copper River and a discussion about the salmon habitat and commercial fishing seasons, travel back to Mile 22 and the site of the sacred Eyak village of Alaganik. Here you can almost hear the activity around the old trading post, longhouses and Shaman's Cave that once stood on this spot. After a quick introduction to some medicinal uses for local plants, with handouts provided to identify plants on your own, launch canoes with your guide. Float from Mile 22 to Mile 17 on the Alaganik Slough where numerous birding opportunities and wildlife viewing experiences abound. See areas where the US Forest Service attempted to help restore Dusky Canada Goose and Tundra Swan populations by anchoring nest islands in the ponds. Experience the dynamic delta ecosystem up close from your view at water level. Finally, you will have the opportunity to hike a boardwalk birding path after landing at the Mile 17 ramp. Stay alert for more wildlife viewing opportunities on the return trip to the lodge.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Orca Adventure Lodge

Cordova

Day 6

After breakfast, take a second boat trip in the Orca Inlet (heading in the opposite direction) and continue to observe sea otters and their interactions within the pod. Your guide for the day has been involved in sea otter studies for over15 years. Afterward, stop at a remote beach and explore the tidal pools with laminated ID charts, plastic aquariums, and dip nets. Next, head to Hinchinbrook Island for lunch at another remote beach, and then visit a kittiwake colony, where you can observe these nesting sea birds. Return to the lodge in the early afternoon for kayaking, followed by a discussion of the life cycle of salmon.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Orca Adventure Lodge

Cordova

Day 7

After breakfast, your guide will give a talk on plate tectonics and the geological characteristics of the region. The Prince William Sound area has undergone dramatic changes in recent decades, largely due to the Great Alaskan Earthquake that struck in 1964. Lasting four minutes and 38 seconds, the 9.2-magnitude earthquake ruptured 600 miles of fault line in an instant, and ultimately gave conclusive evidence to seismologists about the existence and behavior of plate tectonics. Look at specific, unique geological formations and rock samples, then engage in a discussion on global warming before heading to Sheridan Glacier. Sheridan Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska, and after a short hike through the moraine, kayak through the crystal blue caves and jagged crevasses observing the ever-changing glacier.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Orca Adventure Lodge

Anchorage

Day 8

Spend the morning at leisure before transferring to the airport for your flight to Anchorage. Upon arrival, visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center and then explore the historical downtown, including the Museum of History and Art. You will have time for dinner on own before transferring to the airport for your evening flight home.

Breakfast-Lunch- included

Flight home

Day 9

Arrive Home