Hyder, Alaska – American or Canadian?
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Located on the strikingly beautiful eastern border of Misty Fjords National Monument, the teenie-town town of Hyder, Alaska truly might be the real life definition of what a “hidden gem” looks like when found.
If civilization has got the best of you and you’re looking for an escape to a slower pace, follow your heart to the head of Portland Canal. Wake up and feel the cool coastal breeze and soak in the fresh smell of southeast Alaska at it’s finest. Surrounded by towering mountains and soaring bald eagles, Hyder is filled with magical moments just waiting to be had.
But what many people don’t realize about this tiny-town with a population of roughly 87, is that residents are basically cut off from the United States. Even though they have mainland road access, the extremely isolated geographic location of Hyder makes the local residents much more dependent on Canada than the United States.
Accessible via road through Canada, residents in Hyder, Alaska are almost completely dependent on the town of Stewart, British Columbia (population 400). Stewart is just ten minutes away! The closest Alaskan city is the southeast town of Ketchikan, although the ferry stopped running from Hyder to Ketchikan over a decade ago.
Alaska’s easternmost town of Hyder functions as the only “de facto outpost of Canada” in the United States of America. Although close neighbors with the great country of Canada, the wonderful residents of Hyder are very much Alaskan and American.
Based on a great article by Conde Nast Traveler, we learned some riveting information about this beautiful little Alaskan town. In the past, businesses in Hyder priced their items in Canadian currency, with the exception of the local post office. Clocks were even set to British Columbia time. Although today it’s said that they use U.S. currency and go by AST (Alaska Standard Time).
Locals living in Hyder even take Victoria Day & Boxing Day off each year, two Canadian holidays. Well, they might not “technically” get the day off, but they are known for the ceasing opportunity to celebrate with their friendly Canadian neighbors whenever possible. 🙂 Phone and electricity bills are paid to an Alaska company, which subs from Canadian companies.
Hyder is the only place in Alaska that doesn’t have a “907” area code. In fact, phone numbers in Hyder actually begin with “250” which is the Canadian code. Children growing up in here have the option of a small Alaska school in Hyder, home-school, boarding school in Ketchikan, or the convenient choice to enroll in the Canadian public school system close-by.
So what else separates Hyder, Alaska from the crowd? This rare and unusual place has some pretty unbelievably wild bear viewing opportunities. Head north of town about six miles to Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site off of Salmon Glacier Road. From July through September, visitors flock to see brown and black bears feasting on prolific runs of chum and pink salmon spawning upstream. Boardwalks and viewing platforms make this activity easy to navigate while being presented with mind-blowing wildlife encounters up close & personal. Over 15 additional miles are located in B.C., including Salmon Glacier, Canada’s 5th largest glacier.
Getting “hyderized” on the local specialty of Everclear is another popular stop to check off the Hyder bucket list. Just a couple shots and chances are high you’ll even be able the local language… eh? 😉
Hyder, Alaska had it’s boom back in the early 20th century with the discovery of silver and gold throughout nearby areas. Today, the tiny size of the town and the wonderfully weird and unique culture make this a place commonly referred to as “Alaska’s friendliest ghost town.”
Have you ever visited Hyder before? We’d love to hear about your experience in Alaska’s secretly Canadian ghost town!
Looking for more where that came from? Check out Girdwood, Alaska – Named Among World’s 10 Greatest Mountain Towns. You might also enjoy Alaska’s Admiralty Island – Home To North America’s Greatest Population Density Of Brown Bears. Also check out Homer, Alaska – Named One Of America’s Happiest Seaside Towns.