Driving the Dempster Highway

So the family has been in Dawson City, Yukon all week. We explored town, the kids went panning for gold at an actual “free claim” site. The place is pretty neat with a lot of history.

But this weekend was our biggest highlight. Abby, Mackenzie, Gina and I took a long drive on the Dempster Highway up to the Arctic Circle sign.

We were planning on camping at the sign over night, but it ended up being rainy and cold, so we just stayed at the hotel at Eagle Plains about 40 minutes away. We still had a nice spaghetti and meatball dinner at the rest stop next to the sign.

The best time to visit the Yukon is definitely the end of August and early September, as least as far as the fall colours go.

Ultimately we wanted to get to Inuvik and the Arctic Ocean, but COVID and all that – the Northwest Territories closed their borders to all but residents. However, the border was just another 59 km away so we went to take a look and get a couple photos.

Boom! Where did this come from!?

About driving the Dempster, the Arctic Circle sign is 440km from Dawson City, but Google Maps and others online say it’s upwards of a 7 hour drive. It didn’t make sense to me that it would take that long to drive 400 kms but sure enough, it took us about that to make the trip. 

For the most part, the highway is extremely well maintained – we were very surprised. It’s a dirt road the whole way but it’s really compacted down. In some places you could comfortably do 95km/h. 

But all of a sudden you could be right on top of 40 feet stretches of potholes the size of large dinner plates and it’s BANG, BANG, BANG! I think we averaged 65km/h.

Pro tip: You can totally drive the road in a Honda Civic, but the bigger your vehicle is, the better.

The view through Tombstone Territorial Park was stunning. So far, I think it’s the most beautiful park in the country. I’ve never seen colours like this in in Quebec or Ontario. The pine trees are short so you get to see the leafy trees all turn yellow, and the ground vegetation turns either ochre or burnt red.

Dennis

Dennis is the dad!

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1 Response

  1. Wayne says:

    Hey kids!! It’s Sue and Wayne from Vancouver. Sorry I didn’t get to write sooner, but we were busy with getting back home.

    We met in Dawson City… and I guess, did the same arctic circle trek!

    Anyway… great meeting ya… and all the best with the rest of your adventure.

    Stay well

    Wayne n Sue

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