Prince Rupert to Stewart BC & Hyder Alaska

Trip Start Sep 13, 2008
Trip End Oct 04, 2008

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Saturday, September 20, 2008

This morning we woke to the sound of torrential rain beating down on the roof outside. We got up and ventured out to explore Prince Rupert despite the rain. We headed for the Cow Bay area of town and the Tourist Information Centre. Cow Bay's Marina is home to the communities fishing fleet of around 15 vessels. Cow Bay also has a number of art and craft shops along with cafes and restaurants. We went into Cowpuccionos situated on Cow Bay Road for a coffee. Right outside is a signpost with the distance to major cities around the world, such as London, Sydney and Tokyo.

We left Prince Rupert and headed onto the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) east towards Terrace. We stopped in Terrace and popped into Safeway to buy lunch. We continued on the Yellowhead Highway until just before Kitwango when we turned onto the Stewart Cassiar Highway (Highway 37). This stretch of highway to the junction with Highway 37A has been referred to by blogger Lobo as 'Bear Alley' and we could see why. WE saw a number of both Black and Grizzly Bears n this stretch of road. At Meziadin junction we got onto Highway 37A to Stewart. The scenery along this road was breathtaking. We past forests lakes and mountains that were almost vertical, with huge glaciers sat on top.

Along Highway 37A is Bear Glacier, which is a magnificent bright blue in colour. The glacier stretches down the side of a mountain running into a lake at the bottom. We also saw three large waterfalls on the right hand side cascading down the mountainside.

We arrived in Stewart at approx 16:30. The town has a number of historic buildings which give Stewart a real Gold Rush character. Stewart is surrounded by snow capped mountains and sits at the end of the Portland Canal, the world's fourth largest fjord. We continued through Stewart and approx 2 miles down the road we entered Hyder, Alaska. There is no border control on entering Alaska, but there is a border control on re-entering Canada. Hyder is known as 'The Friendliest Little Ghost Town in Alaska'. This self proclaimed title seems fairly just as most of the buildings in Hyder are run down, the streets are unpaved and only around 80 people call this home year round. We stopped at a gift shop right on the border. The owner was both friendly and informative. She informed us that contrary to most guide books, the 8 children in Hyder are schooled in Hyder rather than in neighbouring Stewart. We drove through the town and headed out towards Fish Creek.

The road to Fish creek is approx 4 miles in length and very bumpy, with many potholes to be avoided. Fish Creek is a viewing area with a raised boardwalk. During the Salmon run from July to September, this is one of the best places in Canada to see Bears and other wildlife feeding on the Salmon as they return to spawn. Patience is key and you may need to wait for some time before a Bear turns up. One problem this year has been the lack of Salmon due to possible over fishing, without the Salmon the Bears will find other sources of food. We waited for over an hour without any luck.

Leaving fish creek we headed back into Hyder and stopped at Glacier Inn. The pub is incredibly run down. What was very peculiar was the different currencies of money suck to the walls that different people had left behind. According to the bar maid, it is a tradition that if you stick some money to the wall, you'll never be broke. Most people had written a message or their names on the notes before sticking them to the walls. The reason we entered the bar was to partake in a local tradition and become 'Hyderized'. In order to come 'Hyderized' you have to down a shot of 190% proof  (around 75%) grain alcohol, straight down without smelling the liquid. This is easily done, but the drink not only burns your throat as it is swallowed it goes straight to the head! The other interesting point about the Inn was that there was a sigh to a First Aid room... We didn't want to ask! On that note we headed to our hotel in Stewart.

Distance Travelled - 576Km
Time Taken - Approx 7.5 Hours
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robertcourts on

Crumbs I was right about the bears! Awesome photos.

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