Hyder is an extremely unique town of 48 people on the Alaskan mainland, just a few miles from Stewart, British Columbia, Canada.
Hyder is both the southernmost and easternmost city in Alaska. It lies about 75 miles southeast of Ketchikan.
Hospitality and tourism is the top industry in Hyder, with nearly all of its working population employed in those industries.
The town is named after Frederick Hyder, a Canadian mining engineer who was influential in the town’s early days.
Hyder is a peculiar town in that it is legally part of Alaska, but culturally and practically, it is more Canadian than American.
It is the only place in Alaska that doesn’t use the 907 area code for phone calls, using the British Columbian 747 prefix instead.
A large part of Hyder’s appeal to visitors is the ability to drive to Alaska from Canada while avoiding the poorly maintained AlCan Highway to Skagway.
For this reason, many long-distance motorcyclists visit Hyder, as it gives them the ability to visit 49 of the 50 states in a short period of time.
One of these groups, The Iron Butt Association, brings thousands of visitors to Hyder every year.
Another peculiarity of Hyder is that it is the only place on the Canadian border where visitors can legally cross into United States territory without having to go through customs.
The US Border Patrol once had a post in town, but it closed in 1970. Canada, however, does maintain a border crossing post on the edge of town.
The town’s power, medical services, and emergency/fire services are provided by the nearby town of Stewart.
Hyder once had its own fire department, although it was accidentally burned down by a fireworks incident in 1996, along with the city’s only fire truck.
Things to Do in Hyder
Perhaps the biggest attraction is the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site, just a few miles north of town.
It is considered one of the best places in Southeast Alaska to see bears in their natural habitat, as they feed on fish in the Salmon River.
The nearby Salmon Glacier is the world’s largest glacier that is accessible by road, larger even than the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau.
In the city center, one of the longest-running traditions enjoyed by visitors and residents alike is “getting Hyderized” at one of the local bars.
The process involves drinking a shot of 151-proof Everclear at one of the two participating local bars. Those who do are then given a certificate by the bartender certifying that they have officially been “Hyderized.”
The Hyder Community Association has run a museum and information kiosk on Main Street for over 40 years. The city of Stewart also operates a museum that includes information about Hyder.
How to Get to Hyder
Hyder is one of the few places in Southeast Alaska that has road access to the outside world as it is one of only a few that is not on an island.
The only road access to Hyder is through the British Columbian city of Stewart, about two miles down the road.
The only boat access to Hyder is by private ship or a charter, as the Alaska Marine Highway discontinued its service to Hyder in 2001.
There is no airport for wheeled aircraft in town, although Hyder Seaplane Base does allow for float plane access to town.
Taquan Air flies passengers from Ketchikan three days a week. This is also how residents of Hyder receive their mail.
Where to Stay, Shop, and Eat
There are a few hotels in the city, including the Grandview Inn, The Sealaska Inn, and the Manley Lodge.
Camp Run-A-Muck, an RV park that also offers tent sites, is located on Hyder Avenue around the city center.
There are several gift shops in town, including Caroline’s Boundary Gallery and Gifts and The General Store.
The Bus is a seafood restaurant in the city center that mostly serves seafood and cheeseburgers. As the name suggests, it is built out of a converted school bus.
The two bars in town, The Sealaska Bar and The First and Last Chance Bar, were originally built as saloons during the town’s mining days and both have operated continuously since that time.
History of Hyder
Hyder is perhaps the only community in Southeast Alaska that was not traditionally used by the Tlingit people, presumably due to its location. It was instead used as a hunting ground by the Nisga’a of Canada.
During the Alaska-Canada Border Dispute of the late 1800s, Hyder was part of the disputed area claimed by both countries.
Since Canada was a full member of the British Empire at the time, England was in charge of Canada’s foreign policy.
In an attempt to improve relations between the British Empire and the United States, England offered many concessions to the United States, including the territory now known as Hyder, much to the chagrin of the Canadians.
Hyder was established in 1907 under the name Portland City, named after the nearby Portland Canal.
After the post office was established in 1914 and the town’s residents were informed that there were many towns across the country with that name, it was changed to Hyder.
Hyder was originally built as a mining town, both for the city’s mines and because of its location, it was the only practical access point for the silver mines in British Columbia at the time.
Hyder experienced a boom in the 1920s, although the mines eventually dried up and all significant mining activity had disappeared by 1950. The city mine closed in 1956.
Today, Hyder is a proud tourist town that invites visitors to enjoy one of the most unique towns in Southeast Alaska, and can’t wait to welcome you on your next drive through British Columbia!