With the arrival of winter, Northerners are revving up for polar road-trips.
That’s right: For thousands of territorial residents, winter is the sole time their isolated communities become road-accessible, as nearly 2,000 kilometers of icy highways are carved through terrain that’s impassable in the summertime.
In the Northwest Territories, winter roads link 12 towns, giving them temporary access to the outside world. Built and maintained by the territory’s transport department, some of the routes are short: The winter road to Nahanni Butte, for instance, reaches just a few kilometres, crossing the Liard River to Highway 7.
Usually, the winter road season is brief, running only from January to early April. In some years, however, the ice-road from Inuvik to Aklavik has operated for five months.
For visitors contemplating a spin on our winter roads, proceed with caution. Winter routes are narrow and rutted, and can seldom be taken at speeds over 50 kilometres per hour. Days are dark and bitterly cold, services are few, and non-essential travel is discouraged.
But if you're geared up for an adventure, by all means: Go! Here's more on our ice road adventures.