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A km mi , all-season extension to Tuktoyaktuk opened in November , although the extension does not seem to be considered part of the Dempster Highway, instead being referred to as the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway. The road is one of just two roads in North America contiguous with the majority of the North American road network to cross the Arctic Circle.

Although considerably less travelled than its American twin, Alaska 's Dalton Highway , the road offers much similar scenery. The design of the highway is unique, primarily due to the intense physical conditions it is put through.

Fall foliage on the Dempster Highway

The highway itself sits on top of a gravel berm to insulate the permafrost in the soil underneath. The thickness of the gravel pad ranges from 1. Without the pad, the permafrost would thaw and the road would sink into the ground. In addition to services in Fort McPherson, Tsiigehtchic and Inuvik, there is one location with commercial services along the highway, at Eagle Plains.

It is an important fuel and food stop because of the great distance, and harbours stranded travellers when the highway is closed due to extreme weather conditions. Until , the highway was only open in the short summer. During the early s, Northwestel erected microwave towers along the highway to facilitate public safety with manual mobile telephone service and to provide government agencies such as highway maintenance and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with communications.

Much of the highway follows an old dog sled trail. Inspector Dempster and two other constables were sent out on a rescue patrol in March , to find Inspector Francis Joseph Fitzgerald and his men of three who never made it to Dawson City. They had become lost on the trail, and subsequently died of exposure and starvation. Dempster and his men found the bodies on March 22, In the Canadian government made the historic decision to build a km mi road through the Arctic wilderness from Dawson City to Inuvik.

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Oil and gas exploration was booming in the Mackenzie Delta and the town of Inuvik was under construction. The road was billed as the first-ever overland supply link to southern Canada, where business and political circles buzzed with talk of an oil pipeline that would run parallel to the road.

The two would connect with another proposed pipeline along the Alaska Highway. The ice road closed permanently on April 30, at the end of the season and the new Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway opened in November See also: Tips for road trips and Winter driving.


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The search for the men was led by Corporal W. Dempster, for whom the road is named. After another ferry crossing—this time over the Mackenzie River—the road continues through the village of Tsiigehtchic and eventually ends in the arctic town of Inuvik. Journey on a legendary highway; this history-rich route has many sites and attractions for travelers to explore.

View our itinerary, and plan your visit now. Dempster Highway Road Trip Itinerary This truly memorable driving adventure will take you through a landscape of colourful alpine tundra, wildlife and scenic vistas all the way to the Arctic Circle. No stoplights. No traffic jams. No roadrage.


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There are several campgrounds between the Arctic Circle and Inuvik. View Operators. Dawson City. Dredge 4. Tombstone Territorial Park. Eagle Plains.

7 Tips For Driving the Dempster Highway to the Arctic | | Must Do Canada

There's more to explore. Dig deeper into the Yukon below. See All Things to Do. Things to Do Touring - Alaska Highway Journey on a legendary highway; this history-rich route has many sites and attractions for travelers to explore. It crosses the Arctic Circle and winds through some of the most beautiful and remote wilderness scenery in North America. Starting outside Dawson City, Yukon, and stretching km to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, the Dempster is an all-weather gravel road with two ferry crossings.

There are six campgrounds on the Northwest Territories portion of the Dempster and three visitor centres. The best time for reliable driving weather is June through September, when the days are long and warm. The Dempster Highway threads through the mountains north of Dawson, Yukon, then crosses an alpine plain. There's fuel, a campground and hotel at Eagle Plains, about halfway to Inuvik. From Eagle Plains it is a short drive to the Arctic Circle!

From this point north you are truly in the Land of the Midnight Sun for 57 days each summer. Fort McPherson, near the Peel River ferry crossing, has a long history of trade and settlement.

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Explore that story at the Nitainlaii Park Visitor Centre. Visitors are welcome at the Fort McPherson Canvas Shop, a maker of traditional canvas tents and other canvas goods. Tsiigehtchic, at the confluence of the Mackenzie and the Arctic Red Rivers, offers a magnificent panoramic view of the rivers.

You can choose a side trip on the ferry to Tsiigehtchic, or stay on the Dempster route, headed for Inuvik. Stop en route to Inuvik at Gwich'in Territorial Park for a picnic, a paddle and some fishing on beautiful Campbell Lake.

Inuvik has two campgrounds and a range of visitor services, including well-organized tour services. Plan on taking a flightseeing tour over the Mackenzie Delta, or to Tuktoyaktuk and Aklavik. On average it will take between hours each way. Count on at least two days of driving, or more depending on the stops you make along the way. The Dempster Highway is an all-season road, but be sure to check in with the visitors centres in Dawson City or Inuvik for the latest road condition updates. The speed limit is 70 kilometres per hour on much of the route.

There are two river crossings, with free ferry service in the summer and fall, and winter ice bridges. During spring breakup and fall freeze-up, the rivers are impassible. The GNWT Department of Transportation provides historical opening and closing dates for the ferries and ice bridges so that you can time your trip.

Updated road conditions and warnings are available by checking the Highway Conditions Website or by calling

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