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.