• Photo: Bounder32h | Dreamstime.com

Hyder

Tiny, nondescript Hyder sits at the head of narrow Portland Canal, a 70-mile-long fjord northeast of Ketchikan. The fjord marks the border between Canada and the United States, and Hyder sits just 2 miles from the larger town of Stewart, British Columbia.

One of the few Southeast settlements accessible by paved road, Hyder contains only a handful of tourist-oriented businesses, a post office, and a library, but over in Stewart are a museum, hotels, restaurants, and campgrounds. You will need to check in at Canadian customs (open 24 hours) before crossing the border from Hyder into Stewart. Canadian money is primarily used in Hyder, but greenbacks are accepted.

The 1898 discovery of gold and silver in the surrounding mountains brought a flood of miners to the Hyder area, and the town evolved into a major shipping port. Mining remained important for decades, but a 1948 fire destroyed much of the town, which had been built on pilings over the water. A small amount of mining still takes place, but the area's beauty attracts a respectable number of tourists. Today Hyder bills itself as "the friendliest ghost town in Alaska," a claim perhaps based more on marketing than reality.

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