Driving The Dempster Highway Yukon
When one thinks of road trips images of country roads and autumn colours enter our minds. Few have ever imagined a road trip through the Canadian arctic. And for those that have, without the actual experience there is nothing that can prepare you for the glimpses of heaven this remote region of Canada can offer.
There are few places I have visited in my life that have left me completely speechless. I’m a blabber mouth with verbal diarrhea so speechless for me is like a bird that can’t fly. But recent good fortune allowed Q and I to witness this ethereal location via the Dempster Highway. This gravel road snakes its way up through the Yukon tundra and to the shores of the Arctic ocean in the North West Territories.
Unfortunately for us, the rain had washed the highway out and the repair was going to take days preventing us from reaching our destination. But as luck would have it, we were able to travel the Dempster to the northern edge of Tombstone Territory park, which offered us views second to none in this world.
This highway requires the patience of a Saint and an iron clad stomach. Kilometre after kilometre we bounced around from the numerous potholes that plague the highways in the North. A casualty of the 400 Ft deep permafrost, driving the Dempster is slow and calculated.
Along the southern portions of the Dempster is home to the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation. They have lived off this land for centuries and their presence is dotted throughout the landscape. Off the Dempster there are several hiking trails, camping and lookouts. This area is home to caribou, Dahl sheep, bears, wolf and Gyrfalcon to name a few and none of which we saw. What we did see was a lone Golden Eagle flying high among the mountain peaks, so large its wing span had to be at least 6 Ft across.
If going off-road to hike or remote camp it is imperative you are an expert in navigational skills with maps and a GPS. And driving the Dempster is also not without risk. Extra gasoline, a spare tire, proper clothing and extra food are all recommended. Without extra gas once you pass a certain point on the Dempster there is no turning back – you must make it to the town of Eagle Plains for services including gas and food.
For those looking for an incredible adventure you will find the Dempster approximately 40 km east from Dawson City on the Klondike highway.
~True North Nomad
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