Dempster Highway

Overview

Introduction

We're not recommending that everyone take the Dempster Highway, but if you're up for an adventurous route to remote destinations, this drive over the Arctic Circle is the one you'll want. Heading northeast from Dawson City into the Northwest Territories, the Dempster is a 12- to 14-hour route to unusual Arctic scenery.

Be prepared for a gravel road and long stretches with no sign of civilization. (There is other traffic along the way, however, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrols the highway, so you're never completely cut off from assistance.) Don't miss the opportunity to stop at the Tombstone Mountain viewpoint and Tombstone Park Interpretive Centre, located approximately 43 mi/70 km north along the highway. You'll see taiga forest and permafrost-patterned tundra on your way to the Richardson Mountains. The area is rich in wildlife, including caribou, grizzly bears, moose, wolves and birds. Expect extremes in climate and the sense of being at the end of the world.

The Dempster's eastern terminus is Inuvik, Northwest Territories. From there, the truly adventurous traveler can go by air deeper into the Arctic to such far-flung destinations as Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk, Sachs Harbour and Paulatuk—settlements of Inuvialuit people.

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