Tuesday night we boondocked along side Fish Creek in the Tongass National Forest. This location is just one mile up the road from the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site, on the left side of the road. Perfect, as we were planning to leave this site very early in the morning to go to the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site to see if we can see some grizzlies. This time we did not just pull over, as is our usual method, as we know that the National Forest Service has various new restrictions on boondocking. So, when we arrived in Hyder, Alaska we went into the Tongass National Forest Service office and discussed our options with them. They informed us about boondock sites in that area and were very helpful but very concerned that we were “bear aware”. As we drove along to our boondock site, we noticed some RVers boondocking in areas that the Forest Service told us were unacceptable. When we went back that way in the morning, one site was clear (did they just decide to go elsewhere or did the Forest Service move them?) and the other site still had three RVs boondocking there. Anyway, when we arrived in our boondock site there was an RV already there and another arrived after we got settled. There was plenty of room for all of us.
Stewart,BC/Hyder, AK access road–
On the Stewart,BC/Hyder, AK access road there are several glaciers. We got up early yesterday morning to view Bear Glacier as it is said the morning light is best for seeing this glacier and it was worth the effort. Also, after the glaciers the road took us through the beautiful Bear River Canyon which was an experience we could repeat many times, joyfully.
This is a cute, organized little town that is locate smack dab next to Hyder, AK. It’s population is only about 700 but it offers many important services. First of all, it has an “ice-free harbor” on the Portland Canal and next; it has all the necessary emergency services like fire dept., police, a little 10 bed hospital, etc. The streets are clean and paved and there is a very nice Estuary Boardwalk next to the Visitor Center. The visitor center is staffed with a helpful, cheerful person. The Canadian Border here is manned between Stewart and Hyder and we had to show our passports to return to Stewart from Hyder, Ak. We were told that Stewart is the snowiest place in Canada. Don’t know if this is accurate but if it is true, that is a LOT of snow.
Well, Hyder, Alaska appears to live in a different world compared to Stewart. Hyder is a town of only about 100 people, the roads are dirt/gravel and many of the buildings look like they have seen better days. It looked a bit like a somewhat modern “Wild West” place which is what we loved about it. The US border is unmanned and anyone can just drive the 4-5 minutes across from Stewart, BC. to Hyder, AK. The ubiquitous “road work” is going on in both Stewart and Hyder. What Hyder has (besides the great recreational opportunities in a beautiful environment), that no other place I know of has, is the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site just three miles north and run by the US Forest Service. This Wildlife Observation Site is frequented by many coastal brown bear (grizzlies) especially when the salmon are spawning, many bald eagle, etc. A three day pass here costs $10 dollars and is free for those with the NPS Pass.
It has an elevated boardwalk well above the water where you can easily and fairly safely watch the salmon swim up the creek and the grizzlies, black bear, eagles, etc. catch and eat them. I had read that the best time to come was mid-July through early September but the salmon run was late this year and was not yet in full-swing. Since the number of spawning salmon is low so far, the “alfa male grizzly” kept most of the other bear away so he could have the place essentially to himself. There’s a Forest Ranger on the boardwalk each day and I noticed they are carrying bear spray. Here’s hoping it won’t be needed! One of the Rangers said really the best time to come is August so we will plan our next trip here with that in mind.
After poking around the little towns of Stewart and Hyder, we went to the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site and were rewarded with the “alfa male” grizzly putting on a wonderful show for all of us. Strutting up the stream and when directly across from us, catching a big fish. All the while we were there, there were many eagles swooping along just above the water doing their own fishing. We have never been this close to a grizzly and Whoa, was he ever BIG!!!
We were told to come back early the next morning and that is what we did and will write about it tomorrow
After an early return in the morning to the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site and watch for bear we will rest and then in the afternoon we will head out toward Banff National Park. Have become accustom to all these wonderful views.