Day 54 & 55 – From Stewart to the Salmon Glacier with a stop in Alaska

Wednesday, June 14 through Thursday, June 15, 2017

We make a detour on Stewart-Cassair Highway to visit Stewart, British Columbia, Hyder, Alaska and the Salmon Glacier in British Columbia.

This installment covers our side trip to Stewart, British Columbia to see the Salmon Glacier.

The Salmon Glacier is the world’s largest road accessible glacier and the fifth largest glacier in Canada. The photos of it looked pretty incredible, so we wanted to make a detour to see it.

Jon and I decided to take a detour down the Glacier Highway (Highway 37A) – located off the Stewart-Cassiar Highway 37 at the Meziadin Junction.

This highway is a 40 mile drive to Stewart, British Columbia. From there, we followed the Salmon Glacier Road through Hyder, Alaska to the Salmon Glacier in British Columbia.

The scenery along the Glacier Highway is really amazing. There are row after row of mountains with and without snow on top.

We stopped briefly to see the Bear Glacier.

The Bear Glacier used to block the Strohn Lake’s outlet and occasionally caused flooding. It was notable enough that it was designated a Provincial Park in 2000. But it has been in retreat and now doesn’t even reach the lake.

The Day Use area has been closed. There are no longer signs for the glacier, but there are a couple of pull-outs where you can view the glacier.

We stopped in Stewart, BC. This town is at the end of the Portland Canal and Fjorde.

It is the fourth largest fjord in the World. It is also Canada’s most northerly Ice-free port. Like many places we visited in Canada and Alaska, it has gone through a boom and bust cycle primarily associated with mining. Right now, it is in a bust. The town had definitely seen better days. There was nothing going on in town. The Information Center was already closed for the day. Most of the businesses were still closed for the season although there were a few that had just closed for the day already. We were ahead of the season a little, but we were surprised to see how little was open. The occasional rain certainly didn’t make it look any more appealing.

The weather was cool and misty with occasional sprinkles of rain. This trip has taught me that most of the places with glaciers have a lot of snow in the winter and rain in the summer. This was true for Stewart, too.

We stopped briefly before driving to the Salmon Glacier. We had hoped to find out more information about the road and conditions. We did actually have a little cell and data signal in Stewart, so I took advantage of it to download the Stewart Salmon Glacier Travel Guide.

Stewart Salmon Glacier Travel Guide

To reach the Salmon Glacier, you have to cross into Alaska. There is no US Customs at the border, but Canada does have a manned border crossing when returning from the Salmon Glacier to Stewart.

Once in Alaska, you reach the town of Hyder, the friendliest ghost town.

It is even smaller and less notable than Stewart. Hyder is famous for its bars.

Just past Hyder is a Fish Creek Wildlife Viewing Area. During salmon season, this is a great place to view bears. At this time, not as good. Plus it was sprinkling.

As the road continued, we crossed back into Canada. We surprised a hoary marmot.

We kept getting tantalizing views of the glacier when we would go around a curve.

Since it was getting rather late and visibility was dropping, we started looking for a place to camp for the night. 

We passed by several nice spots, but most of them already had someone occupying the space. 

We finally came to a nice wide spot with a view of the glacier.

Considering the time, we thought this would be a good place to stop for the night. We couldn’t go any further on the road because only a small path had been plowed through the snow. We certainly wouldn’t fit. A small car might find it passable.

It was cold and windy with a lot of fog, mist and drizzling rain.

The view was pretty amazing. We hoped to see it more clearly in the morning.

In the morning, we were able to see the Salmon Glacier. It turns out that we were camped on the overlook.

It was amazing to be able to look down on it.

It was time to continue our journey.

We didn’t stop to take a lot of photos on the way back down.

There aren’t that many places where the road is wide enough for vehicles to park while there was still so much snow on the road.

But we did stop to see the blue pool.

We had to stop for Canada customs on our way back into Stewart. It all went smoothly.

We stopped at the Visitor Center in Stewart. It wasn’t particularly helpful.

We saw a number of wild animals along the road to and from Salmon Glacier. Unfortunately, we didn’t get photos of any of them today. We saw wild black bears on Glacier Highway. He did what they are supposed to do and moved away quickly into the brush along the side of the road. We saw a moose and Jon spotted a porcupine along the side of the road.

We stopped at the Bear Glacier for a couple more photos.

We did see another black bear along the side of the road.

More about our travels down the Stewart-Cassair Highway in the next post.


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