Tuk is the new end of the road driving north in Canada, about 400 km (250 miles) north of the Arctic Circle and right on the Arctic Ocean (more specifically the Beaufort Sea}. We have had a wonderful time here, camping by the Arctic Ocean, witnessing the mid night sun around a camp fire, going for a swim in the Arctic Ocean, and meeting the most friendly Tuk-ites and an intrepid group of fellow travelers. If you come this way, make sure you drop by Grandma’s for burgers and poutine, the RCMP offices for some great t-shirts, the Fur Shop for some good souvenirs and local stories, and the End of the Road Inn for dinner.
To get to Tuk you first need to get to Inuvik. You drive about 750 km north of Dawson City on the Dempster Highway, and then about 140 km north on the Inuvik/Tuk Highway. Both highways are on road warriors’ bucket lists. The longest stretch without services is 375 km from Dawson to Eagle Plains. The highways are gravel and are infamous for pot holes, mud, tire eating shale surfaces, stone flinging heavy trucks, and amazing scenery. Along the way, we saw camper trucks that slid into the woods, one Harley who spun out 5 times in the muck, various breakdowns, and a lot of smiles. Our Subaru Outback / Tear Drop Trailer combination looked pretty urban compared to most rigs, however we did admirably with damage limited to a cracked windshield and a flat tire.
Inuvik was the end of the road north until last year. It was a town built to secure Canada’s claim on the north and for oil exploration, as well as a key part of the DEW Line to protect North America during the Cold War. We camped at the Jak Territorial Campground and think it is excellent with nice camp sites, showers and bathrooms. We liked dinner at the MacKenzie Hotel and had some good Chinese at Roost. The engineer in me was intrigued with the way town services are delivered to homes and businesses. Buildings are built on stilts so as not to melt the permafrost and the services are delivered in elevated pipes.
Some firsts for Cathy and me.
- First time north of the Arctic Circle
- First time in North West Territories (which means we have been in all Canadian provinces and territories).
- First time experiencing the mid night sun.
- First time swimming in the Arctic Ocean (if you had any doubts, trust me that it is COLD)