Since we are on a roll talking about the highway network in the Yukon Territory we need to complete the story with one of the two more famous highways in the Yukon – the Dempster Highway. The other highway being the Alaska Highway.
The Dempster Highway is an all out adventure. The route is 738 kilometres long and packed with sightseeing opportunities. The Dempster connects the Yukon Territory with the tiny village of Inuvik, Northwest Territory. It is the only road route leading into the community. And as far as highways go.. this was no ordinary highway like we see in the movies.. no way man.. the highway was more like a back country gravel logging road. There was plenty of mud, pot holes, rib rattlers and flying rocks from passing vehicles.
During some months the road is not passable. The weather and seasons make it virtually impossible. During the winter months the road is more like an ice road. Rivers are frozen and the landscape is a blanket of white. During late winter/early spring the road is best traveled by snowmobile and dog sled.. oh my how cool does that sound.
There are very few services on the highway. Break downs are common. The road is hard on RVs and motorhomes. Any adventure on the Dempster requires planning. On our trip we packed overnight sleeping bags (good for -40), water, food, extra tires, flashlights and extra clothes just in case the road won the battle of wills. And as we soon found out many do not make the trip accident free. We passed broken down cars, left to survive on their own. We saw people changing tires.
And no Dempster Highway story would be complete without the mention of 7 Mile Hill. It is straight up for 300 metres on a muddy, slippery slope. It is the end point of many trips as the hill sometimes has the last word. One our trip there was only one abandoned car on the hill. One to many if you talk to the driver of that car.
The Dempster Highway is a sightseeing gem. There are amazing opportunities to view wildlife and amazing geography. On our trip the wildlife highlights included 5 Grizzlies (main photo), Caribou, Dall sheep and Gyrfalcons. The Gyrfalcon was so dominant in the region. A large white predator bird which flies with such grace. When it got dark they would dive bomb our jeep. We were not sure why.. was it our good looks or our lights that attracted them. I told Bro it was his good looks but my money is on the lights.
We left Dawson City in the early morning hours so we could drive to Inuvik in one long day. You see there is no real night time here. Ya, it gets dark but the dark is more like early morning sunrises. It is the land of the Midnight Sun.
The Dempster Highway did not disappoint. The Ogilvie Mountains and the Mackenzie Delta were amazing. We stopped in at Tombstone Park. We crossed the Arctic Circle and the Yukon/NWT Border. And the biggest surprise of all was in Eagle Plains (only gas station on route) were gas was almost $2 a litre when gas was running under a dollar back in civilization. Literally, highway robbery.
There are 2 river ferries. One crosses the Peel River and 142 kilometres later another river ferry crosses the Mackenzie River. The highway is the only road leading into the Arctic Circle. In all the Dempster Highway explores over 10 different eco systems. The eco regions include the Klondike Plateau, Yukon Plateau North, Mackenzie Mountains, North Ogilvie Mountains, Eagle Plains, British-Richardson Mountains, Peel River Plateau, Fort McPherson Plain, Arctic Red Plain and the Mackenzie Delta (Canada’s largest wetland delta).
We arrived in Inuvik safely. No problems. No flat tires, just allot of mud. It was good to eat some solid food and to take a quick nap. Soon later eyes open, blood pumping and the research begins.. so off we went to discover Inuvik, Northwest Territory.
So with the launching of the YukonEH.com Travel Website, we will be now be working on the NWTeh.com Travel Website. So soon we will have stories for you of the Waterfall Highway, Yellowknife, Inuvik and the Dempster Highway again.