In July 2017, I loaded my family for an epic van road trip to Hyder Alaska. After watching a Youtube video about some guys from the Expedition Portal driving to Hyder Alaska, I had to visit this remote town. The video footage was spectacular. I never heard of Hyder Alaska. Chances are you never heard of it either.
Where Is Hyder Alaska?
I mentioned to several friends that I was driving from the San Francisco Bay Area to Hyder Alaska. Most asked, “Where is Hyder, Alaska?” Hyder is the closest drivable point of entry into Alaska from the lower 48. Hyder is 1800 miles from our home in California. Anchorage, on the other hand, is 3000 miles. Driving 1800 miles was easier to sell to my wife and kids. Too bad that did not hold true for us as we were detoured by 2000 miles because of the forest fires burning all over British Columbia. Driving directly to Anchorage would have been faster.
Hyder is located on the on the southeastern Alaskan Pan Handle. The only way to drive to Hyder is on the Cassiar Highway through Stewart British Columbia. There is no US Customs border check going into Alaska because there is no way out Hyder except by fishing boat or going back to Canada.
We packed our ARB freezer with lots of food as Hyder is remote and grocery stores are limited. It was packed with frozen fish, burger, steaks, cheese, and ice cream. You need a fridge/freezer for any long van camping trip.
Why Drive Hyder Alaska from The United State?
Most people drive to Hyder because it’s the closest entry point by automobile from the United States. There are less than 100 people. There is one restaurant in the town dubbed “The Bus” that serves amazing fresh caught sea food. It has a bar, post office, general store, and a few other businesses that are sometimes open. There are boarded up houses and businesses. One may think it’s a ghost town until you spend some time there.
However, once you get here, you are going to stay for a while. We came back for the second day.
Gourmet Seafood Dining in Hyder Alaska
The main attraction in town for my family was the Seafood Expressed dubbed as “The Bus”. While it’s not worth driving 1800 miles one way from San Francisco for the fresh catch of the day, they serve the finest grilled halibut in the West for about $18.00 for a plateful. You can eat in front of the bus or inside a heated community dining hall. Take a seat next one of a dozen other travelers that look like they have not shaved or changed clothes for several days. This place is off the beaten path. You visit here on purpose. Random road trip trippers do not end up in Hyder Alaska. We knew of the bus months before leaving.
As I was leaving the restaurant, I overheard a conversation between 2 local residents (there are less than 100). One of the guys was complaining that his commercial fishing business keeps him from real fishing. This commercial fisherman was getting excited about retiring the boat and taking up fishing with his pole again. His wife owns the Seafood Express. He was smiling when he casually said his wife keeps him too busy catching food for the restaurant. I asked him how often he has to fish and he replied: “Whenever my wife runs out of fish.” The restaurant is always busy. His wife talks about retirement but enjoys the people too much and has not committed to closing down “The Bus”.
The owner cooks, serves, acts as cashier, cleans the plates and holds down perimeter security by ensuring one pays for the amazing seafood meal.
How To Get Hyderized
The Glacier Inn is famous for getting “Hyderized”. The bar serves a strong concoction of alcohol so strong that you can burn it in a stove. Since any form of hard liquor turns my stomach, I opted to not step foot into the only bar in town.
What is there to see and do in Hyder, Alaska?
There are a few hotels and campgrounds in town. Everything has a purpose. We did not see any people milling around or walking the street. It was cold and wet. The only movement of people was in and out of the Seafood Express restaurant.
Don’t come to Hyder if you want to see people. Those living in Hyder are busy working somewhere else. No movie houses or fast food chains.
We drove to Hyder to see Salmon Glacier and grizzly bears. Salmon Glacier is the 4th largest glacier in North America. We drove an 18-mile gravel road that paralleled Salmon Glacier. My wife thought the glacier was a road on the other side. This road is the most amazing road that I have ever drove on.
Bear viewing area
The bear viewing area on the river is amazing. The boardwalk leads to the area where Grizzly and black bear come to feed on the salmon during spawning. Unfortunately, the salmon were 3 days downstream. No Salmon. No bear.
The view of Salmon Glacier from the top of the road is breath taking. It’s one of the largest glacier in Canada. Probably one of the largest glaciers in the world that you can drive too. This is the most amazing road that I have ever driven on. It’s hard to explain my feelings. The size of this glacier is mind boggling.
Abandoned mine. The are are no fences advising one to stay clear. No posted signs advising the dangers of the mine. We did not venture too far into the mine.
Below is a photograph of Bear Glacier in British Columbia. It’s just as amazing as Salmon Glacier.
Free Camping at Clements Lake Recreation Site, British Columbia.
My son Zachary is sitting inside our Nemo Screen Shelter. No mosquitos get through this amazing shelter. Keeps rain and bugs out. Clements Lake is about 10 miles outside of Hyder Alaska. It’s free and remote. We slept in our REI Base Camp 6 tent. After several unsuccessful attempts at keeping mosquitoes of the van, we opted for tent sleeping.