Before you decide to drive the Highway, drop by the information center in Dawson City. Come back here after your trip for a certificate. We stayed one night in the town before heading out, as the road was rather muddy and treacherous that day.
decision... do i take the highway or not?
Make sure to read the signs, and don't tell your mother about this one until you're done the trip.
735 km to Inuvik. 456 miles. 99.9% dirt road. If you think you can do it in 7 hours, you're crazy. This road will take you 10-15 hours. Don't forget, you need to catch the ferries as well. If you miss one, just stay in a territorial park.
dog on the road.
Start of the highway. This is the last piece of pavement before Inuvik. With 24 hour sunlight in July, it's possible to drive all night long. Long sunsets and 'blue' periods.
end of pavement.
looking back at the pavement.
north fork road.
Sometimes the sun doesn't set. Sometimes it stays as a sunset or a sunrise for hours on end. If you're hoping for 'northern lights' in the summer, you won't see them, but you can watch the sun for hours on end.
Take it slow as there are accidents. The road may have bridge repairs, reduced speeds, one lane traffic, construction, surface breaks, rough sections, loose gravel, soft and rutted sections, windrows, rocks on the road, or it could even be closed.
This car had 3 tires missing. We brought 2 extra tires with us. I met a man wearing a University of Michigan shirt at Eagle Plains. He had waited 4 days for the rental car company to send him a new tire for the one that broke.
Remember, this road has some traffic. Be kind, let the trucks go past. This isn't the time nor the place to ruin a trip because of your desire to run wild on I-75 and cut the crazy trucks off the road. I wouldn't do that, but some people are nuts.
Be ready for some dust.
Mud. Try opening that without getting your hands dirty.
And more mud.
And when you think you're done with mud, you get to take a ferry in your stylish new mud-mobile. Yes, I drove a Honda Civic. I had no problems.
But don't worry, you'll be in the company of other stylish mud-mobiles too.
On the ferries, you get to relax for a bit. Take in the sights. This is a cool looking church in Tsiigehtchic, NWT.
There are some folks who camp near the road, and there are others who live off the land. Yes, folks have internet, this isn't a 3rd world country. So, this picture does not represent everyone up here.
There are even emergency runways on the highway itself!
Don't forget, you are crossing the mighty Mackenzie River. This is the 11th largest river in the world.
Long trips can play havoc with your cycle. If you get tired and start seeing elephants in the trees, perhaps this trip is not meant for you.
Don't worry, there are a few rest areas along the way. I think this is the 2nd best place in the world to go for a potty break. This is the rest area at the Arctic Circle.
Even if you get a weather report, it is unpredictable up here. It can be sunny one moment and crazy the next moment. But if you get those moments, don't panic...
... take some pictures and drive slow...
and watch for those moments that you'll never forget.
You might see a rainbow or two. This picture is weird -- half of the sky is sunny and half of it is stormy. Odd.
Assuming you get through all of that, you can see some amazing flowers.
See this white flower? Look at the picture below.
This entire field is full of them.
Correction, the entire valley is full of them.
If you come during certain times of the year, you can see caribou, but here is a fox for your viewing pleasure.
And here is a wolf. This was the first wolf I have ever witnessed in 'the wild'.
Sunsets up here go on for a long time. Colors are much more spectacular.
Ah. More sun. Break out the sunscreen. Actually, with a thinner ozone layer, perhaps you should. So bring extra tires and wear your sunscreen.
At long last, the official end of the Dempster Highway. You can travel a bit further and find the locations where the ice roads begin. I've heard that they're planning on building a road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk. That'll be fun to take. But, to get an appreciate for this area, you really need to take a boat or fly. Fly over the Mackenzie Delta... it'll freak you out.
And in case you're wondering how far it is to get back to a movie theatre. I believe Whitehorse has one.
The end of the Dempster. There are actually a few spots that the Dempster changes into the ice road. One spot is near this point. The Nahidik is a coast guard vessel, and I think Prime Minister Harper visited Inuvik and that vessel recently. Neato.
Once the Dempster ends, the ice road begins. This is the stuff that the 'Ice Road Truckers' use before the trucking season starts. These puppies check the ice.
And these guys, are the ice road kings up here. Perhaps the king of the entire area. They seem to have their name on everything. I met some of their family in Tuktoyaktuk, very nice folks.
The roads and ice roads need some huge plows.
My tribute to the ice roads.
And if you get through all of that, it's love baby, it's love. Visit the Northwest Territories and the Yukon... it's love baby, it's love.