What To Do on A Day Trip To Hyder Alaska
Updated on August 15th, 2020
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. Hyder, Alaska is situated on the Southeastern border of the state and can only be accessed by water or road through its bigger Canadian neighbour Stewart.
This was my first experience of Alaksa prior to heading into Juneau and let me tell you, if you can’t make it all the way to mainland Alaska then Hyder is well worth a stop. The impressive scenery, glaciers and up-close bear encounters are just what I envisioned Alaska to be like. With no US neighbours, Hyder uses Canadian currency and if needed the Canadian law enforcement. Easily seen in a day Hyder is well worth the detour.
The drive to Hyder is grand enough and boasts views of 20 glaciers overlooking the highway and weaves alongside a river. It is one of the most incredible drives I have taken. The following list will give you inspiration on what to do in a day trip to Hyder, Alaska.
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How to get to Hyder Alaska
I was lucky enough to go here with my Workaway hosts during my time volunteering in Hazelton, British Columbia. For us, the drive took 4 hours, which made it quite a long day trip. However, the roads are good and it is especially scenic. Make sure you allow extra time for photo stops.
If you are travelling between the Yukon and British Columbia the scenic drive out to Hyder Alaska is an easy detour in summer months. Take a turn at Glacier Highway (#37A) at the Meziadin Junction. This section of road will take under 1.5 hours drive to reach Hyder.
Alternatively, if you are on route to or from Prince Rupert you will be driving along Highway 16. This drive is 3.5 hours each way, so it is up to you whether to spend the night somewhere.
What to do on a day trip to Hyder Alaska
Arriving into the border town of Stewart stop to take in the beautiful surroundings. Fresh crisp sea air and dominating peaks covered with glaciers adorn Canada’s most northerly ice-free port. Make sure you pack a warm jacket regardless of the season.
Back in the days of the gold rush, Stewart and Hyder were home to 10,000 residents. Conversely, today the residents have to travel just to reach the nearest bank.
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. Watch the Bears From Fish Creek
Fish Creek Bridge is one of the main drawing points for visitors to Hyder. 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! You can ask the ranger on duty if there are currently any bears. This will save you from paying if there aren’t any around. When we were there the ranger told us there weren’t any bears and recommended when we should return, saving us the $5.
I was disappointed at first that I wouldn’t get to see a bear but we ended up seeing a total of 12 that day just 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. Luckily I was heading into mainland Alaska for more bear spotting.
2. Visit The Bus
Are you hungry yet from all that bear sighting? This family-owned fresh seafood hotspot was once an old school bus – hence getting it’s name ‘The Bus’. Unfortunately for us, The Bus was closed for the season when we got to Hyder Alaska (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. Snap Pics of Salmon Glacier
Hyder Alaska is home to Salmon Glacier which is the 5th largest glacier in North America. It’s a rough, winding, potholed drive about 40km north of town. Although it’s rough this is a spectacular drive with pull out spots for taking photos of the different vantage points of the Salmon River and the many waterfalls along the way.
Each year due to the melting of the ice the pressure at the toe of the glacier 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.
Not to miss along the drive are stopping points for a self-guided auto tour. Each stop includes plaques with information at each. Keep an eye out for the bears!
4. Get Hyderized in Hyder Alaska
A right of passage before leaving Hyder Alaska 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’. The bartender took out a bottle covered in brown paper and instructed us to not smell or sip the shot. It was rough! But Woo! I’m now initiated into the club! We stayed just long enough to take a photo, collect our certificates and check out some of the wall decorations.
Currencies from around the world make up the $20,000 walls. Sign a note from your country and be part of this wall.
After 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 Alaska? Were you lucky enough to see a Grizzly? What was your bear count?