The Dempster Highway is a 740 kilometre all weather dirt road that connects the Klondike Highway to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The drive on the Dempster Highway whether you are driving the short distance into Tombstone or doing the entire drive to Inuvik always provides an adventure – we even got a flat tire on our way into the park! This is a bucket list item for many people to do the drive from Dawson City, Yukon to Inuvik, Northwest Territories.
The Dempster Highway can be driven in 12 to 16 hours but it is not recommended to do it such a time span. Plan several days to be able to see everything there is to see along the highway, take in some hiking, fishing or photography. Driving during the summer months you will be able to experience the midnight sun, in Autumn you will get the beautiful fall colours and herds of caribou, winter offers views of the northern lights. Access to Inuvik is possible year round except for periods of thaw and freeze-up of the ice at the Peel and Mackenzie River Crossings.
What Should I Be Driving?
Special vehicle are not required to drive this maintained highway but services are not close together. It is always advised to carry at least one spare tire along with basic tools including a tow-rope, axe, knife, matches, tire repair kit, flare, etc. Ensure that all of your tires are in good condition with lots of treat and your spare is in excellent shape. If you are planning on renting a car make sure you are allowed to drive on the Dempster Highway as some rental companies do not allow it. You cannot rent a car in Dawson City; Whitehorse, is the closest rental centre, which is a 6-7 hour drive away. We rented a truck camper from Canadream and we able to do the trip!
Services are few and far between on this remote highway but it makes it part of the uniqueness of this trip! Make sure you plan ahead and know where you plan on stopping each night to get fuel, food and accomodations. If you are camping in a tent or RV you can camp along the side of the highway for free if you cannot make it to one of the stops below. There is a cardlock gas station and washrooms at Klondike Corner at Mile 0 but if you do not have a cardlock pass I would suggest you get gas and some food in Dawson City.
Open May to September and offers the following amenities:
- Camping & Day Use Area
- Drinking Water
- Trails & Hiking
- Visitors Services – You can rent bear buckets and bear spray from here
Mile 229 – Eagle Plains, Yukon
Open Year Round and offers the following amenities:
- Camping & Lodging
- Fuel, Tire Repair & Auto Mechanics
- Drinking Water & Restaurants
Mile 342 – Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories
- Visitor Services
- Fuel, Tire Rapir & Auto Mechanies
- Groceries & Drinking Water
Mile 378 – Tsiigehtchic, Northwest Territories
- Visitor Services
Mile 461 – Inuvik, Northwest Territories
Open Year Round & Amenities Include:
- Visitor Information Centre (Open May-September)
- Parks & Trails
- Camping & Loding
- Restaurants & Groceries
- Shopping & Recreation
- Travel & Tour Companies
Additional Tips & Information to Know for Driving the Dempster Highway
- Your cellphones do not work throughout Tombstone Territorial Park and for the majority of the trip along the Dempster Highway
- Bring extras of everything – food, water, batteries for your cameras!
- The roads can be very dusty or muddy be prepared for you and your vechile to get dirty
- You are in bear country among with a variety of other wildlife make sure to always make noise while on the trails and be aware of your surrounding
- Do not leave any of your garbage behind
- Be prepared for the road to be a bit bumpy at times and keep an eye out for potholes to avoid adding to the risk of a flat tire
- Be prepared to have a trip of a a lifetime!