Stewart Hyder

Nope, not a person. Towns. Towns in two different countries. Stewart (British Columbia) and Hyder,  (Alaska). Each is a separate, remote community down a 41-mile road through avalanche and glacier terrain.

Yep, glaciers. We’d heard before we started this adventure that we’d see our fill of glaciers before we were back in the Lower 48, and that might be so, but this was our first and we were going to enjoy the heck out of it.


Bear Glacier once stretched all the way across the lake to where Bob’s standing… It’s never easy to capture the scale of things like mountains and (I was quickly learning) glaciers, but the lake was probably a quarter or maybe even a half-mile away from the road.

The ice was rigid and very blue in places….


…and the breeze coming over the ice was chilly!


It was mid-June when we arrived in Stewart, BC, and the air was just cool enough to keep things comfortable. But not too chilly to sit outside and enjoy the best halibut and chips we’ve ever had at “The Bus” — officially known as “Seafood Express,” our first stop in Hyder after we got checked into our RV site. The clam chowder was amazing — we were lucky to be there on a Friday!


Hyder’s not much of a town, and the man behind the general store lost interest in chatting with us when he decided we weren’t going to buy anything, so we ventured on up the road to the Fish Creek viewing platform where we’d read bears gather to catch salmon from the river. The parking lot was empty, which was a sign we were early, but the spot is beautiful…


…even when the fish aren’t running:


A man hammering on a new visitor kiosk told us a grizzly had been making periodic visits to the creek to see if the salmon were in yet, but we didn’t see her.

On up the narrow, dusty, steep gravel road toward the Salmon Glacier we went, glad we chose a small truck with four-wheel drive for our “toad” — we had exactly this sort of road in mind.


The river formed by the glacier snaked below farther below us as we climbed…


…and then it was beside us, the huge mass of Salmon Glacier:



And on the other side of us? Snow!


The US doesn’t have a border crossing station for Hyder (What’s the point?) but at the Canadian customs station we were greeted by a pleasant woman, reciting her questions as though they made sense: “What’s your purpose for entering Canada? How long do you expect to be here?” We were polite but we knew all of us were doing a linguistic dance because there’s no other way into or out of Hyder except through this station.

Stewart, BC, is a great little town with a few photo ops, like these shopping carts atop the local grocery:



We walked the boardwalk over the estuary, where information panels described local birds and plants, but the scenery captured our attention most of all:


To give you an idea of the scale, the road to Hyder runs along the bottom of that hill on see on the right of the picture. It’s so tiny that even if you blew this photo up you wouldn’t be able to make it out. The hills are higher than you’d think and the distances greater than you can imagine. This is the edge of Alaska!

About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
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