If the late Walt Disney portrayed small towns as cartoon characters, Hyder would surely have landed the role of “quiet stepsister.” Seemingly Alaska’s shy secret, you won’t find this historical town in any of the state tourism literature or see it represented in hunting or fishing guides. If I hadn’t been there myself, I’d swear it was just an illusion. However, if you go to Alaska to see majestic scenery, Hyder has it. Want to see eagles? Bears? Go salmon fishing? Yep, yep, and yep. Friendly residents? Make that a double yep.
Ironically, Hyder is a small Alaskan town that you can drive to in a single day… albeit a long one. My family and I left Seattle, WA, and crossed the Alaskan border in about 20 hours — not a leisurely drive, yet we were in Alaska. How cool! During several days there we caught salmon and Dolly Varden trout, saw both kinds of bears, and heard tons of great stories from locals — like the fellow who discovered a huge gold vein that fell from the ceiling of an abandoned mine. The neat part was how he legally mined it without the European owners knowing he’d discovered pay-dirt.
If you plan on driving to Alaska from the lower 48, you may want to visit Alaska before you “visit Alaska.” You can go from Hyder up the Cassiar or Alaska-Yukon Highway, a gravel road that winds its way through British Columbia and parallels the Pacific coast. You don’t have to worry about making wrong turns because there aren’t any — just keep heading north. Your best information source is the Internet, where tourists have posted pictures and information. Here’s a peek at the trip on an available map: