Salmon Glacier is the world’s largest road-accessible glacier, situated in Northern British Columbia near Stewart, BC, and Hyder, Alaska. It is the fifth largest glacier in Canada that is a remnant of the Fraser Glaciation period that was at peak around 14,000 years ago, which covered most areas of all British Columbia and Alaska. With rising temperatures, the glaciers started to Melt, revealing the spectacular formation that you will encounter in this journey.
The Salmon Glacier viewpoint offers spectacular panoramic views of the glacier.
How to get there
Salmon Glacier is approximately 39 km from Stewart, BC via Hyder, Alaska and Granduc Road.
We started our trip from Stewart Visitor Information Centre, after picking up the self-guided auto tour handout and gathering some information about the area. The staff at the Visitor Information Centre was very knowledgeable and friendly.
The self-guided auto tour (Stewart to Salmon Glacier) has 14 points of interest along your route to Salmon Glacier viewpoint. Out of 14 stops, 2 to 9 are in Alaska, and the remainder stops are in Canada. Each stop is marked with a number – keep an eye out for those signs along your journey.
First Stop: Stewart
Stewart is a small town that flourished in the early 1900s during the gold rush. The area around the Portland Canal has been frequented by Nass River Natives long before David Du Bose Gaillard arrived in 1896. Few years after Gaillard’s expedition, Robert and John Stewart arrived in the area and developed the town. Stewart had a population of approximately 10,000 during the gold rush era. Over the decades, due to the decline in mining operations, the community has shrunken to only 401 individuals (2016 census). Stewart is a hidden gem, a beautiful quiet town surrounded by snow-covered mountains.
Second Stop: Entering Hyder, Alaska
Note: To get to the Salmon Glacier scenic viewpoint, you have to enter Alaska and then back into Canada. There is no USA customer or border control when you enter Hyder, Alaska. However, there is Canadian border control (CBSA) when you come back to Stewart, Canada.
Third Stop: Hyder, Alaska
Hyder is the easternmost town in Alaska accessible by vehicle, with a population of approximately 87 (2010 Census). Hyder does not connect to any other community in Alaska, so the residents of Hyder rely on Stewart, BC, for groceries and electricity.
In this post, I will briefly mention about Hyder. For more information, check out our other post, “Hyder: The Friendliest Ghost Town in Alaska.“
Fourth Stop: Tongass National Forest
Tongass received its name from Tongass clan of the Tlingit, and it covers approximately 16.7 million acres of land under National Forest status and about 11,000 miles of coastline. It includes mountains, waterways, glaciers, and islands.
Fifth Stop: Moose Pond
It is known for its abundance of wildlife, including geese, ducks, porcupine, spotted frogs, red squirrel, bears, bald eagles and beavers.
Sixth Stop: Fish Creek Wildlife Viewing Area
This place in Hyder is a famous spot for Grizzly and Black Bear viewing during the salmon spawning season. The Fish Creek Bear Viewing Area is a day-use site, with designated boardwalks along the river for a vantage point.
Seventh Stop: Tital Trail
This trail takes you to an old mine site, which is approximately 8 km long. It was constructed in 1922 by mine workers to transport supplies to the site.
Eighth Stop: Riverside Mine
This is a stop for Riverside Mine, which was productive in 1960s for silver and copper. There are no structures left as most were damaged by fire and floods.
Ninth Stop: Nine Mile
At this location, the Texas creek joins the Salmon River. You can see the remains of the old bridge along the river bed.
Tenth Stop: Premier Border Crossing
You are now about to go through an international border crossing (Welcome back to Canada). Between 1920 to 1950s, the miners going across the border for work had to stop at Canadian Customs post.
Eleventh Stop: Indian Mines Viewpoint
This is viewpoint for Indian Mines Corporation Ltd. Looking west you can see the cut line for old tramway that ran from Indian Mine to Premier.
Twelfth Stop: Premier Mines Viewpoint
The Premier Mine was started in 1910 and remained operational till 1953. Within the first ten years of operations, mine became one of the most abundant mineral deposits in BC. During that time frame, this mine had one of the longest aerial tramlines on the continent (17 km long).
Thirteenth Stop: Toe of Salmon Glacier
The first glimpse of the Glacier arrives as you continue to climb and drive towards the summit viewpoint. At the toe of the Glacier, the visible ridges are Terminal Moraines.
Fourteenth Stop: Summit Viewpoint
Upon arrival you will be amazed by the spectacular panoramic views of the glacier. Summit Viewpoint is located at 56°10’08.4″N 130°03’04.2″W at an elevation of 3,757 feet. Enjoy your time at the lookout!
Tip: Make sure to apply bug spray because there can be a lot of bugs in the area. We visited in August and encountered a lot of bugs at the viewpoint.
The road continues past the viewpoint to visit Granduc Mine, but the road is not maintained and may be closed due to active mining.
Recommendation: We highly recommended this side trip if you are traveling or planning your road trip on Stewart Cassiar Scenic Route (Highway 37), or the Great Northern Circle Route.
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THERE IS LOT TO EXPLORE. KEEP EXPLORING