Dempster Highway

Road trip: Dempster Highway


  1. Rugged mountain scenery
  2. Drive across the Arctic Circle
  3. Camping and fishing in the Mackenzie Delta
  4. Many opportunities to see more of the Arctic

The Dempster Highway is Canada's road to the top of the world, north of the Arctic Circle. It passes through some of the most beautiful and remote wilderness scenery in North America. Starting outside Dawson City, Yukon, and stretching 730 km to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, the Dempster is an all weather gravel road with two ferry crossings. There are six campgrounds on the Northwest Territories portion of the Dempster and three visitor centres. The best time for reliable driving weather is June through September, when the days are long and warm.

The Dempster Highway threads through the mountains north of Dawson, Yukon, then crosses an alpine plain. There's fuel, a campground and hotel at Eagle Plains, about halfway to Inuvik. From Eagle Plains it is a short drive on to the Arctic Circle! From this point north you are truly in the Land of the Midnight Sun for 57 days each summer. Fort McPherson, at the Peel River ferry crossing, has a long history of trade and settlement. Explore that story at the Nitainlaii Park Visitor Centre. Visitors are welcome at the Fort McPherson Canvas Shop, a maker of traditional canvas tents and other canvas goods. Tsiigehtchic, at the confluence of the Mackenzie and the Arctic Red Rivers, offers a magnificent panorama of rivers, and ferry service to cross them. You can choose a side trip on the ferry to Tsiigehtchic, or stay on the Dempster route, headed for Inuvik. Stop en route to Inuvik at Gwich'in Territorial Park for a picnic, a paddle and some fishing on beautiful Campbell Lake. Inuvik has two campgrounds and a range of visitor services, including well-organized tour services. Plan on taking a flightseeing tour over the Mackenzie Delta, or to Tuktoyaktuk and Aklavik. Fuel available at Dawson City, Eagle Plains, Fort McPherson and Inuvik.