The conjoined Dempster Highway and Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH) offer an unpaved wilderness road through Canada’s Great White North to the Arctic Ocean. Services are minimal over the road’s 560 miles of gravel ranging from good to bad to ugly (depending on weather and construction activities).
Head for Edmonton in northern Alberta, or to Vancouver in British Columbia if you are traveling up the West Coast. Point your wheel north at Dawson Creek, British Columbia, where the Alaska Highway begins. At Watson Lake you will motor on down the Klondike Highway to Whitehorse, Yukon. The next night you can rest your bones in Dawson City. Plan for three to four days from Edmonton or Vancouver to Dawson City, another two days to Inuvik, and another daytrip to Tuktoyaktuk, optimally.
Dawson City, a cool former gold rush town, offers a good mix of services and entertainment. You can gas up there or at the Dempster junction just down the road. Eagle Plains, about halfway from Dawson City to Inuvik, is a good stop for gas, a warm bed, a shower, and hot meals. The next gas is at Fort MacPherson. Barring any setbacks or wilderness camping, your second night should have you in Inuvik, which has services. Your final destination of Tuktoyaktuk is another 87 miles and has gas, limited accommodations, camping, and rustic restaurant services.
Roads & Biking
The road is gravel over permafrost, which might have snow and/or ice up to mid-June. It can be wet and muddy in June and early July, with mudslides occasionally closing the road. Late July to late August is the best time to travel this route. If you are still feeling adventurous after Tuk (before September), you can return to Dawson City and head up the Top of the World Highway to Tok, AK.
- Government of Northwest
Territories Travel & Tourism, www.gov.nt.ca
- Updated highway conditions:
- The Dempster Highway,
- Yukon Tourism,