Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

This small town isn't even accessible by road - you must come in by air or sea. It's not an island, but it functions like one - small population, expensive groceries, lots of boats. Nelly, who works for the Copper River Salmon Marketing Board, picked us up in her old Westfalia van which we packed full of extensive baby equipment that only new parents on their first trip with a baby would imagine was necessary. There is a beautiful thing that happens when you don't have expectations. I was busy with a new baby and a few catering jobs and didn't have time to build any before we left and regret that's unlike me. I didn't know I was going to fall in love with Alaska. It wasn't a destination high on my "must visit" list, which made the beauty and charm all that much more appreciable.  

We eat wild salmon. It costs more but it tastes better and I care about the sustainability and quality, so I find the price tag worth it. There is a charming story behind the wild salmon from the Copper River that I felt privileged to get a peek into. The salmon season last a few short months in the late spring/early summer and the fishermen work hard during that season to fish the Copper River Delta. We spent some time on a commercial fishing boat and the job is not an easy one. You must revere the water and the fish; it's what the industry hinges on. What the whole town hinges on, really. The fishermen head out rain or shine and fish virtually around the clock for as long as the Fish and Game Department allows them. Clearly these families fish for a living, but in talking to the the fisherman, there was a united respect they have for the ecosystem which they depend on. The Watershed Project, a local non-profit, is dedicated to preserving the salmon by researching their environment and teaching kids how to preserve their habitat.

We had a chance to meet with a small team that spends the summer along side Childs Glacier monitoring salmon escapement via sonar (literally counting the fish that swim by for months). We had a salmon pot luck with the fishermen's wives, gaped at glaciers and bald eagles and a pod of Orcas, caught some salmon, and enjoyed a tiny bit of the vast landscape that makes the state remarkable. We met so many people who love this town, who care about the salmon and the Copper River, and want to tell its story. What an honor it was to be a part of it for a short week.

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Copper River Salmon . Cordova, Alaska . Sprouted Kitchen

Hugh's photos are gorgeous and it still doesn't do the place justice. This trip was sponsored by Copper River Salmon and all opinions are my own.

Reader Comments (58)

Oh my goodness, my goodness. Beautiful images and words. Of course I wish I was there but I'm so glad you three got to go and experience that place. I love that little Forte got to go. One more reason to come live in the north west? You're that much closer to Alaska. ;)

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

wow, what a place! And what a sweetie pie you have.
we also make sustainable seafood a big priority, so we don't eat it all that much due to the price (especially of king salmon which we love). but when we do, we have a wonderful place called Otolith that we love

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Absolutely stunning photos, looks incredible!

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlessia

Gorgeous location and such a unique experience. I want to see what was served at this salmon potluck :)

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJ.S. @ Sun Diego Eats

Wow, absolutely stunning. I bet it's humbling to see it in real life.

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Beautiful photos! I am a here and again reader and love popping in every once and a while. Really enjoy your posts.

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSusie Wales

Oh my, this looks like such a beautiful place! Great photos!

I have never been to Cordova but have heard wonderful things. Your photos are beautiful. Come visit us in Sitka next time!

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

My cousins and uncle live in Cordova! They have lived there for years, and my uncle used to be one of those amazing fishermen. My favorite wedding gift was smoked Copper River salmon, direct from Cordova. Someday, I hope to visit...Beautiful pictures!

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLauren M

Looks beautiful and sounds like a good place.

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarta

These look magical, and you look so happy! Hooray for traveling with babe! xo

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKasey

What a wonderful experience. Love your photos!

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLiz @ FloatingKitchen

What an incredible place to visit! Beautiful, dreamy photos. I must get up to Alaska someday, although I think where I live on Vancouver Island is a little bit of AK but slightly less big and slightly less wild. Kudos on you for supporting sustainable seafood - I'm trying to do that more and more and this year have progressed to catching most of my own salmon by myself (with a fly rod).

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterk

I couldn't love this more!

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

the photos are breathtaking. wow, wow, wow.

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSylvie

Baby curran's sooo cute!!!

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra


this is so stunning. what an amazing opportunity to get to visit a place like this.

August 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteramanda

Great pictures of an amazing place....breath taking. By the way, I don't know what size the pictures were but they took an age to download....worth it though:)

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoger Stowell

Lovely photos. Alaska is my favorite place to visit, and I have only been once.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKier

Beautiful pictures of what sounds like an amazing trip. I would love to get myself up to Alaska one of these days!

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

I've been waiting anxiously to see Hugh's photos and they are beyond amazing! It was such a great experience and I'm thrilled beyond words that we got to spend time together in Cordova. Hope to meet up soon!

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith Steele

Sarah and Hugh, the photos are so beautiful, my husband and I visited Alaska a few years ago and it was the most amazing time, I can relate to the sheer joy of the landscape, the raw beauty, makes me want to go back! I'm so glad the two, er, three of you visited!

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary

What diaper bag to you use? These are such gorgeous pictures!!!

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

beauty. love that you had this experience and shared it with us.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

So wonderful! My son lives in Cordova, he has been there just about a year. He is stationed there in the Coast Guard. I was hoping to be able to get there. He will be leaving next month, so I won't make it. He said it is beautiful. He has gone salmon fishing many times there. He has even had some of it canned by a lady in town, then shipped it home to us.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStacie Meiers

I can't tell you what a breath of fresh air this post was. Such a stunning place and Hugh's photography? Impeccable. I always tell my husband how unbelievable his composition is as we browse your photos together! And I love that you took little baby Curran with you!!! Please keep the photos coming...I soak them up over here in the south.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermary beth

All of this. LOVE.

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkelsey

Gorgeous! Love all of it!

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTonya

I've never commented before, but I felt compelled to click and thank you for sharing your travel experiences, and the photos of your baby. I am an avid traveler, and hopefully a mom some day, and I really feel excited when I look at the photos of you and your little one exploring new places together. Well done and have a wonderful time!

August 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

This is a beautiful post. Wonderful trip and a small adventure for a family. Love your photos and words as well. :)))

August 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterseeing2sea

I've dreaming about a trip to Alaska for so long! What a beautiful week you must have had. Thanks for sharing these pics with us!

Wow, such a beautiful place to live. I don't think I could take the many months of darkness, but still very nice.

August 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Wow, wow, wow. The place is stunning. Your little one is adorable and you seem to have a great vacation and experienced nature as it should be. Thank you

August 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

I was born and raised in Alaska and live in Palmer! Are you still around? I can give you a few local tips and insight :) Cordova is an amazing place and your photographs are lovely. My husband, who is from Ohio, didn't plan to fall in love (with the state and a!) but he did and now he's trapped! ;) Looks like a wonderful trip you had!

These photos are seriously stunning!!! Always a joy looking at your photos on your blog.

Gorgeous photos and a lovely story. If you like Alaska, you'll love Canada too. A vast, beautiful country. Used to be a lot more salmon, though.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

Wow. What a beautiful world we have been blessed with. Fabulous photos. And you are right, sustainability is the only way to go. x

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

Your photos are stunning and perfect! You have no idea how much I love them and how much I am willing to just stare at them forever. Alaska seems like a really beautiful place.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKeik

That's my dock, that's my glacier, that's my TOWN. Grew up in Cordova and I miss it so much. Hugh, you captured the town and all it's charm beautifully. I would love some prints of some of those photos. They make my heart ache in the best way possible. I MUST get back up there soon.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Wow. Beautiful!

August 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRiley

Beautiful landscape, beautiful mum, beautiful child, beautiful meal... Thank you for sharing this emotions :)

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

I have never been to this place and I regret that :) It seems like flawlessly painted with perfection and beauty; blissfully peaceful and calm. But this is where I would love to spend my late days.. no matter alone or with a company! Glad reading your wonderful blog.

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSamara Barnard

Just gorgeous - Alaska, your baby, and you too mama. Hugh's photo's are just transporting, and you describe the trip so sparely and evocatively. Wonderful talents, both of you. Kiss that sweet boy of yours, and thanks for sharing.

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

Copper River Salmon is amazing, but as one person posted its expensive. So here's an alternate. Try canned pink salmon from Alaska. It's caught in places like Prince Wm Sound. Its delicious and less expensive than red or king. We call it the fast food of Cordova. (there are no fast food restaurants in Cordova, so its quicker to make your own meals)!

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDD

You can feel the fresh air in these photos, so crisp. Nature in Alaska looks amazing, thank you for sharing!

August 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSchick Shadel

This is beautiful, and such a great reminder to purchase Copper River salmon when it's available, and to purchase wild salmon all other times of the year. Thank you for sharing.

August 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Hi, Sara. It sounds like this was a wonderfully memorable family trip.

On a different note, will you please remind us of the theme of your new cookbook? I'm eagerly awaiting its release, thinking that it is a cookbook themed on bowl foods. However, I noticed that you responded to a question on Instagram with a note that suggested that it's not about bowl foods -- which would disappoint me! Please clarify. :)

August 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris

@Chris - Hi! Sweet of you to ask. Yes, it is indeed based on food in bowls. The comment was confusing I suppose. All I meant was that I really liked that salad last night, and I wish I had the idea before I turned my manuscript in. I will still blog about it here. It is hard to keep completely inspired through an entire book process, so sometimes better ideas cross me later.

August 15, 2014 | Registered CommenterSara

Not dying to go to Alaska either......until now!

August 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate @¡Hola! Jalapeño

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