The Dempster Highway - Canada’s first all-weather
road to cross the Arctic Circle - opened in August
1979. It was opened as a two-lane, gravel-surfaced,
all-weather highway that ran 671 kilometres (417
miles) from the Klondike Highway near Dawson City to
Inuvik (110 miles from the Arctic Ocean).
We began our two day trip up the highway on June
18, 2008, driving our 2006 Subaru Outback. The
road remains a gravel road except for the last five
The gravel is five meters deep to protect the
permafrost. It was initially shale which wrecked havoc
on tires. Today much of it is surfaced with better
gravel so flats are not near as common.
The estimated time to drive the Dempster Highway's 417 miles is seventeen hours, and it took us that long over two days.
There are two ferries to cross in the summer. In winter, one drives across the "ice bridges".
The day we left it was cloudy. It began to rain gently by late morning and picked up a little all day long.
The views are spectacular the whole way. Mostly there are small tree forests with stretches of tundra.
Sometimes there are places that have been covered with forest file. The last hour we drove on our first day was almost
continuous area where there had been a forest fire.
We stayed the night at Eagle Plains, the halfway point. Our expectations were low, so we were very pleased with our large
room and reasonably priced meals. The motel has 32 rooms and is the only place on the highway.
All night the rain continued. Everything was very soggy the next morning. One of the staff came in the night before and said
she was the last person across the Peel River. High winds had closed us down. The next morning they advised us to await a
highway advisory. Fortunately, we talked with a trucker who told us to gone on, and by the time we got the Peel it was as calm
as could be.
An hours drive from Eagle Plains we came to the Arctic Circle.
The road got muddier and muddier.
|The Dempster Highway
Canda's most northern highway