A forty mile detour off of the scenic Cassiar Highway finds you in a pair of small
towns tucked at the head of the Portland Canal. These remote villages are a quaint
and refreshing bit of civilization from which to explore the surrounding wonders
These towns were originally founded as bases for gold and Silver mines in the Salmon
River Basin. As the mining tapered off the villages shrank from a population of
10,000 to it’s current size. Recently the tourist trade has begun to revive them.
The town of Stewart, BC sits in the shadow of a glacier perched two thousand feet
overhead. It boasts a main drag with several restaurants, small hotels and gift
shops as well as two grocery stores. The smaller Hyder, AK is more like a town from
the old west. As you cross the border into the United States the pavement ends and
the boulevard is lined with boarded up general stores and inns from the early 20th
Attractions: The two must see attractions in the area are the bears feeding at Fish
Creek and Salmon Glacier. Both are reached by going across the border into Hyder
and following a winding gravel road into the mountains. The bear viewing area is
3 miles up this road. In mid-August you can pay $5 for entrance to an elevated deck
from which you can watch a concentrated Coho Salmon run which attracts both Black
and Grizzly bears to the area. We arrived at about three in the afternoon and waited
for an hour before a large male Grizzly wandered up the stream batting at salmon
for about a half an hour.
Salmon Glacier is another 18 miles up the cliff hugging path. The viewpoint is perched
a thousand feet above a spectacular ice flow which cascades from an icy ravine. As
it strikes the mountainside you are viewing from the ice divides at you feet branching
off in both directions. This incredible sight is featured in the title picture of
Other attractions include helicopter tours of the glaciers for those on a larger
budget as well as fishing trips. The fishing trips, however, are not of the quality
one may find on the Alaskan Peninsula or elsewhere nearer to the coast. Also, don’t
pass up the chance to get “Hyderized” at either bar in Hyder. Downing this mystery
shot is sure to give you courage to watch hungry grizzlies feed twenty yards away.
Accommodations: We stayed at the Rainey Creek Campground in Stewart. The sites were
nice with a separate tenting area which included a pavilion with picnic tables. The
entire campground was surrounded by Salmon Berries which made for tasty treats on
a whim. It was also within walking distance of Stewart’s main street.
Local Businesses: Our time in Stewart would not have been so perfect without Temptations
Bakery. After a long misty day of riding from the Meziadin this was our first taste
of Stewart. We were warmly greeted by the bakery owner and a shelf full of bread.
With a 2 dollar bottomless cup of coffee and reduced prices on day old goods we stopped
in everyday we were in town. The bread was fluffy and the pastries flaky.
There are two complimentary grocery stores in Stewart. The larger store offers larger
quantities and the cheap “No Name” brand product line while the smaller store, owned
by a Swiss couple, carries a variety of European style foods.