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. [caption id="attachment_9596" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - elmundoenbici .com[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_9597" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Flickr - adolfo honorato[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_9608" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Philip Morton[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_9598" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Billy deWild[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_9604" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Murray Foubister[/caption]
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). [caption id="attachment_9606" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Province of British Columbia[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_9601" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - jimmy brown[/caption]
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.[caption id="attachment_9599" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Dave Bezaire[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_9600" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Jean-Guy Dallaire[/caption]
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? ;-) [caption id="attachment_9603" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Flickr - kcxd[/caption]
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." [caption id="attachment_9607" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Wikipedia[/caption]
Have you ever visited Hyder before? We'd love to hear about your experience in Alaska's secretly Canadian ghost town! [caption id="attachment_9605" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Philip Morton[/caption]
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.
If you are living and loving The Alaska Life – share your adventures with us on our Facebook page HERE, and they might just end up getting featured in one of our next blog posts.
Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley
I love Hyder Alaska. Bc boy 5 hr drive to ride sleds from Nov to July building an Ocean boat to live on from March till Oct so we don’t have to cross the boarder. 21 years and going all the time. Bruce would love to see your pictures and I would put them in the local museum.
It was around the year 2003 – in June. My husband Ed and I always looked forward to our annual visit to ‘Gods country’ as he so fondly called Alaska. (our former home). Either we took the ferry or drove the Alcan. This year we decided to go via Hyder, since we had always wanted to check it out. From there, take the ferry over to Ketchikan. We called ahead and confirmed ferry reservations. For lodging, that was not a concern because I recalled hearing that a former Ketchikan friend, Borge Hancock had moved to Hyder and managed a little hotel. We were fascinated to arrive at this quaint little hideaway town, that was known for having ‘no law’. We soon found the little rustic hotel. I confidently climbed the steps and was graciously greeted by my ole friend, Borge. Asking if she had a room for one night since we were to take the ferry the next day, Borge’s face sunk as she said, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry but we are full’. With no references, we said goodbye. But, as I was descending the steps, a bright idea struck me. I had remembered years ago, a nice family from Roosevelt Dr (near my home at Mt Point) had moved to a little town called Hyder, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember their last name. I paused and paused and when I got into the car my husband was chuckling and said, ‘ok, what’s up?’ So I told him ‘no room in the inn!’ But I continued by saying that I knew a lady by the name of Verna that moved to Hyder and if we could find a cafe or something I betcha they would know the last name. Sure enough, just down the little dirt road a sign said ‘cafe’. I was beginning to feel good about now – so happily went in. The kind lady behind the counter asked if she could help me – so I said I knew a family from Ketchikan years ago that moved here and I can’t remember their last name but the wife’s name was Verna and I think she had something to do with the post office. The nice lady said, ‘oh sure, that’s Verna and Stan Thompson and they live over in Stewart (BC) now and manage the ? apts – it’s a pink building, you can’t miss it’. ‘It’s only 9 miles from here’ she added. I thanked her profusely and couldn’t wait to tell my husband. Within about ten minutes we found the pink building. The name ‘Thompson, Mgr. Rm. ?’ was posted just inside the door. Up the stairs we went and knocked on the door – it opened – There was Verna, totally surprised! Stan right behind her. She goes, ‘oh hi, Joyce!’ Just as if we had had coffee last week instead of thirty five years ago. Typical Alaskan style. I said, ‘well, we need a place to stay and we’re taking you out to dinner!’ They grabbed their coats and oh, my, we had the best steak dinner imaginable and conversation that just didn’t stop. It was fantastic! And it’s so true, like they say. Alaskan’s are just like ‘One Big Family!’
what a great story . thanks
In 1967 or 1968 I worked for Peter Kiewit Sons Construction as a Forman building a highway North of Stewart and a dock site for Granduk mine between Stewart and Hyder Alaska. We had to haul fill material from the Alaska side to build the pad for the dockside. All of the equipment operators and supervisors were from Canada except for 4 that were American from Ketchikan Alaska. we lived in hotels in Stewart.
I have pictures of the project. I remember we were making $3.96 per hour but the Americans rate was $9.16 per hour at the time.
On July 1 we did not work because of the holiday an the Canadian operators would of been paid overtime. We did however work on July 4 the American holiday which the American operators were paid double time , $18.32 per hour. They grinned all day.
I got Hyderized when I was there but it was 90 over proof at the time.
There was no road in at the time so we flew in on a float plane called a Goose from Prince Rupert BC.
The equipment was brought by barge.
I had a great time in Hyder .
In 1977 I was in the area, one night a large fight broke out. I stepped in and broke it up
For the next year, people from town called me Sherriff. Fun times and the locals are the best.
If the position is open let me know.
My buddy, Randy Bishop, and I rode our motorcycles from Denver to Hyder, AK in 42 hours as part of an Iron Butt Association certification. We like telling people we rode from Denver to Alaska in under 48 hours.
what are the home prices like there? Are they reasonable? looks like a wonedrful place to live.please let me know. Thankyou very much
I’ve been to Hyder a couple of time last year and I’ve been trying to talk my husband into moving there. I looked up the real estate and there are two homes for sale at very reasonable prices. I wonder if it is possible to get wifi there and television service, as I can’t live without my computer. It truly is a wonderful little town.
I’ve been to Hyder a couple of times when we drove our RV from Alaska to the lower 48.
Beautiful scenery. We walked the boardwalk but it was June and the fish weren’t abundant yet so no bears in the river. We did see some very big Grizzlies run across the road here and there as we drove around.
There was a bus we stopped at to eat. They had really good salmon dip and other foods. I’m not sure if they are still open as it’s been a few years.
I highly recommend making a stop here if you can. Be prepared to go through a small boarder where they will ask you all the questions the larger Canadian/American boarders do.
I’m looking for a trappers cabin off grid I’m Canadian live in quesnel bc. 2503980608. If possible fly in only. Mountain climber/adventurer. Will live there full time. Thankyou