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Families were strolling through the streets of the small town as the sun set over the picturesque harbor surrounded by mountains. Sea otters and seals lazily floated around the docked fishing boats as people watched from the breakwater.
The weird part? This took place at 11:00 at night on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. After Tony and I had been awake and travelling for almost 24 hours. This first view of Cordova, Alaska was worth everything though.
Tony’s best friend from college grew up in Alaska and moved back home after graduation. Tony always want to visit Leif and Denna, and we decided this was going to be the year.
Leif lives in a picturesque, salmon fishing town of 2,000 on the south coast of Alaska in the Chugach National Forest that is surrounded by Prince William Sound on one side and mountains and glaciers on the other side.
Due to the water and mountains, there are no roads leaving the town so travel is by plane or ferry. We flew into Cordova’s tiny airport named after Merle “Mudhole” Smith (no joke), walked off the stairs of the plane directly on the tarmac and into the classroom sized airport.
During our time there, we drove to the ends of all 3 roads leaving town, one of which is bridge that comes to an abrupt stop over a terrifying, rushing river. We hiked on glacier with Leif and Denna and their sweet black lab Ari. When we first came over the hill and saw Sheridan glacier with the mountain reflected in the smooth, glass-like water, it literally took my breath away.
Leif and Denna cooked a lot of freshly caught salmon for us, and we had a bonfire in their picturesque backyard surrounded by wildflowers with an epic views of the mountains.
After 5 days in Cordova, we took a 7 hour ferry ride across the scenic Prince William Sound to Whittier. The clear blue water and mountains on both sides for the entire ride made it one of my favorite parts of the trip. Any chance to get on the water is good with me 🙂
When we got to Whittier, we drove through the longest tunnel in North America to get to our cabin in Talkeetna, a cozy town that made me feel like I had stepped back in time a couple hours away from Denali National Park.
We spent a day doing a bus tour of Denali where we saw caribou, sheep, moose (super up close- one darted in front of our car on the road), and insanely beautiful scenery.
On our last day in Talkeetna, the weather was unusually hot for Alaska (95 degrees) and the sky was a clear, rich shade of blue. As we were driving around town, we caught a bunch of views of Denali in its’ entirety. This apparently is super rare because normally there is cloud cover and it’s such a tall peak, you can’t typically see the top of the mountain.
We ran into a sweet Australian lady who was gushing about her flightseeing tour of Denali. Since it was our last night there, our friends convinced me to jump on the little plane and experience Denali up close.
I don’t even know how to describe how awesome this was. Our plane landed on a glacier surrounded by Mount Denali and the Alaskan range and then flew through the mountains next to cliff faces for views I will never ever forget. It was humbling to see such beauty and the grandness of creation up close in such a unique way.
How gorgeous is Leif and Denna’s house?! Do you see the mountains behind it?? We are so grateful for them showing us a true Alaskan experience that we never would have gotten otherwise. When we booked this trip, we figured this would be a once in a lifetime trip, but now that we’ve been there and fallen in love, we will definitely be back! Maybe even in the winter since their winter is actually more mild than Minnesota’s!