What to do in Hyder, Alaska
Known as ‘The friendliest ghost town in Alaska’ you’ll be wondering how a town of around 50 permanent residents attracts so many yearly visitors. Situated on the Southeastern border of Alaska and residing next to its bigger Canadian neighbour Stewart, BC. This US town uses Canadian currency and if needed the Canadian law enforcement. Although easily seen in a day or two Hyder is well worth a visit. Following is a list of what to do in Hyder, Alaska.
The scenic drive out to Hyder, Alaska is an easy detour in summer months along Glacier Highway (#37A). Most travellers driving along highway 16 can make it off their route and back within the day. If nothing else the drive alone is well worth making the visit. Boasting views of 20 glaciers overlooking the highway and following the river it is one of the most incredible drives I have taken.
Arriving into the border town of Stewart we stop to take in our surroundings. Fresh crisp sea air and dominating peaks covered with glaciers adorn Canada’s most northerly ice-free port. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before.
There are no officials or stop points heading into the US, as it is the one road in and out but a Canadian official and customs declaration awaits your return. Here is a list of your must’s when visiting Hyder.
1. Fish Creek
Fish Creek Bridge is the main drawing point for visitors. Between the months July to September there is a high possibility of seeing both Brown and Black Bears feeding on salmon that have returned here to spawn. There is a raised platform over the creek keeping both people safe and animals undisturbed in their natural habitat. It is not uncommon to spot in excess of 10 bears while on a trip here.
The cost to access the bridge is $5. When we visited we could see there were people already on the boardwalk and excitedly thought bears! Instead of paying to get in straight away we asked the ranger on duty if there were any bears at the current time. He told us there wasn’t and recommended when we should return, saving us the $5. Disappointed at first that I wouldn’t get to see a bear we ended up seeing a total of 12 that day driving around! Although I was super pumped by this, they were all black bears which I had seen before. I was hoping for a Grizzly. Next time.
2. Visit The Bus
Are you hungry yet from all that bear sighting? The Bus is a converted old school bus into a family owned fresh seafood hotspot. Unfortunately for us, The Bus was closed for the season when we got to Hyder (early September), much to the dismay of my travelling companion. For the entire drive, we heard how excited he was to get the best fish and chips in the Northern Hemisphere. Coming from an Aussie they must be great!
3. Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier is the 5th largest glacier in North America. It’s a rough, winding, potholed drive about 40km north of town. Again, this is a spectacular drive with pull out spots for taking photos of the different vantage points of Salmon River and the many waterfalls along the way before reaching the toe of the glacier. Each year due to the melting of the ice the pressure at the toe builds until it’s too much and bursts through a small gap. The locals like to bet upon when this will happen generally sometime in July. This causes the water level in the river to rise substantially. Along the drive, there are stop points for a self-guided auto tour with information plaques at each. Keep an eye out for the bears!
4. Get Hyderized
A right of passage before leaving Hyder is to get ‘Hyderized’ and see the $20,000 walls. Before crossing the border back to Canada you will find Glacier Inn is one of the last buildings on the right. My two travelling partners and I all asked to get ‘Hyderized’. To not spoil the surprise for you either this is what we knew before taking the shot. The bartender took out a bottle covered in brown paper and instructed us to not smell or sip the shot. It was rough! However, we have been initiated into the club! We stayed just long enough to take a photo, collect our certificates and check out some of the wall decorations. The surrounding walls are made up of signed notes from currencies around the world thus being called the $20,000 walls.
After a dinner in Stewart, we drove back to where we were staying in BC, a successful day trip to Hyder, Alaska.
Have you been to Hyder? Were you lucky enough to see a Grizzly? Any tips on what else to do?
*This post was originally seen on DreamSeekWander by the same author in 2015.