Stewart/Hyder International Chamber of Commerce operates the Stewart Visitors Information Centre (250/636-9224 or 888/366-5999, www.stewart-hyder.com, daily 9 a.m.–6 p.m. mid-May–Sept.) in Stewart, at the west end of 5th Avenue.
Housed in a Fire Hall from 1910, the Stewart Historical Society Museum (Columbia St. and 6th Ave., 250/636-2568, daily 10 a.m.–7 p.m. July–Aug., C$5) has wildlife specimens on the first floor as well as numerous historical items both upstairs and out front.
On the U.S. side of the international border stands a tiny stone storehouse built in 1896 by Captain Gilliard. The building looks like an old jail and once served that purpose, but for much of its life it was a shoe repair shop. On the mudflats in front of Hyder are hundreds of old pilings, remnants of what was once a town of 1,000 people. The straight row of pilings in front of Stewart is all that remains of the aborted transcontinental railroad.
About five miles out of Hyder (turn right at the end of the main drag) is Fish Creek Wildlife-Viewing Area. Late July–mid-September the creek is filled with pink salmon, along with some of the world’s largest chum salmon—some weighing as much as 35 pounds. A viewing platform provides an excellent vantage point for watching brown (and a few black) bears that feast on the salmon. Forest Service (250/636-2367) staff are on hand to ensure the safety of bear-watchers and to answer questions; see bear photos at www.fishcreek.org.
The road beyond Fish Creek is well worth driving, but before heading out, be sure to ask about road conditions and snow levels; travel by RV is not recommended. Just 0.25 miles beyond Fish Creek are remains of an old brothel operated by Dolly, Ketchikan’s best-known madam. Continuing north, the road follows the Salmon River, passes the remains of a covered bridge that once provided access to a remote mine, then begins a tortuous climb, reentering Canada along the way.
The first glimpses of stunning Salmon Glacier come into view 17 miles from Hyder, but the views improve as the ever-narrowing road climbs above the tree line to a lookout point 23 miles from town. Beyond the glacier is Tide Lake, site of the world’s greatest recorded annual snowfall: 88 feet in 1971.
Gorgeous Bear Glacier, 20 miles east of Stewart on Highway 37A, should not be missed. Like its more famous cousin, Juneau’s Mendenhall, it is a “drive-up glacier” with the highway passing close to its base. The small lake in front is often filled with icebergs.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition