On the eastern fringe of Misty Fiords National Monument, at the head of Portland Canal, is Hyder, a town that may be in Alaska but identifies more closely with its Canadian neighbors just across the border in Stewart, British Columbia.
Even though Hyder has mainland road access, the town is so isolated from the rest of Alaska its 72 residents are almost totally dependent on larger Stewart (pop. 700), just across the Canadian border. Hyder's residents use Canadian money, set their watches to Pacific Standard Time (not Alaska Standard Time), use Stewart’s area code and send their children to Canadian schools. When there’s trouble, the famed Canadian Mounties step in. All this can make a side trip here something of an international affair.
Things to do
Hyder has a number of gold rush-era saloons, which are popular with visitors. The Glacier Inn is the best known and features an interior papered in signed bills, creating the “$20,000 Walls” of Hyder. Next door is First and Last Chance Saloon, and both bars are lively at night. There’s also the Toastworks in Stewart, a restaurant that doubles up as a toaster museum with more than 500 models on display.
But the best reason to find your way to this out-of-the-way place is for bear viewing. From late July to September, you can head six miles north of town on Salmon Glacier Road to the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site and watch and photograph large brown and black bears feeding on pink and chum salmon that are spawning by the thousands upstream. The U.S. Forest Service maintains a viewing platform and boardwalk here and there are interpreters onsite during the summer. Another 17 miles north along the road – in British Columbia - is a viewing point of impressive Salmon Glacier, the fifth largest in Canada.
For more information on Hyder and Stewart including a list of attractions, contact the Stewart/Hyder International Chamber of Commerce (250-636-9224, 888-366-5999).
Clements Lake Recreation Site
Eight miles north of Stewart along Highway 37A is Clements Lake Recreation Site. From May to October Clements Lake offers good opportunities for picnicking, canoeing, camping and a sandy beach for swimming.
Fish Creek Wildlife Viewing Area
Hyder offers access to the some of the best bear viewing in the Inside Passage. From late July to September, you can head six miles north of town to the Fish Creek Bridge Wildlife Viewing Area
to watch and photograph brown and black bears as they feast on chum and pink salmon runs. The U.S. Forest Service has constructed a viewing platform here and has interpreters on-site during summer to help visitors understand what they’re watching.
International Days Festival
Stewart and Hyder join hands to stage International Days
every year from July 1-4. The four-day event includes children's games, a scavenger hunt, craft sales, several parades, pancake breakfasts and fireworks in Hyder on the 4th of July
From Hyder you can also reach Salmon Glacier, the fifth largest in Canada and a spectacular sight. The glacier is a 25-mile drive along Granduc Road that starts in Hyder at sea level and follows the Salmon River to its birthplace, the Salmon Glacier, a climb of 4,300 feet into the British Columbia alpine. The view is mesmerizing as you can gaze down on Salmon Glacier and the valley it has carved. During the drive you pass several old gold mines including the famous Premier Gold Mine - now called Westmin Gold-, which has been in operation off and on since the 1920s.
Stewart Historical Museum
Preserving both Stewart and Hyder's history is this museum in downtown Stewart. Open from May through September, the Stewart Historical Museum has exhibits that trace Hyder from its heyday. There are also display with a collection of movie props from Hollywood movies that have been filmed in the area including “Insomnia,” “Bear Island,” “Iceman” and “Leaving Normal.”