On June 14, 2018, Cathy and I started our road trip to the Arctic Ocean and now it is August 7, and we just got back safe and sound to our summer cottage on Stoney Lake, Ontario. What an amazing adventure!
We have been asked what was our favourite thing. For me, the midnight sun over the Arctic Ocean in Tuk, NWT shared with a few other intrepid travelers. For Cathy, a new appreciation for the immensity of the north west.
The people we met, whether residents or fellow travelers, were incredibly friendly and engaged. And we found it easy to travel with familiar currency, language and stores & products. Most camp sites were excellent and campers were eager to share experiences, and the national & provincial/territorial parks are in beautiful locations. We mixed in hotel stays every 4 or 5 nights. Hotels and restaurants are expensive in the north and so this mix was economical.
According to Google Maps, we went 17,215 kilometers (10,760 miles). With all of our side trips, our trip log says 19,681 km.
We got to Tuk on the Dempster Highway and the Inuvik/Tuk Highway that add up to an 1800 km roundtrip on tire eating gravel. This is the furthest north you can drive in Canada, and the road is only 1 of 3 in the world that crosses the Arctic Circle. We took the summer only gravel Denali Highway and the Top of the World Highway, so we did the big three for off pavement road warriors.
We spent time in 5 provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario), the Yukon Territory, the North West Territories, and Alaska. This was spread across 5 time zones – Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific and Alaska. Cathy and I have now been to all Canadian provinces and territories, and all US states, which are check marks on our bucket lists.
Throughout we kept being reminded that the building of the trans Canada railways, the Klondike gold rush and the construction of the Alaska Highway redefined the north west.
Major parts of our route were in the McKenzie River Basin and the Yukon River Basin, which are the 2nd and 3rd largest in North America after the Mississippi River Basin. We traveled roads along the Klondike River, the Columbia River, the North Saskatchewan River and many other famous fur trading routes.
We saw glaciers in British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska.
We saw incredible wild life along the way. Grizzlies, black bears, moose, elk, caribou, wood bison, Dahl sheep, mountain goat, canadian lynx. We did not see cougar nor wolverine, so a reason to come back.
Our combination of a Subaru Outback 4 wheel drive plus a Tear Drop Trailer was comfortable, reliable and convenient. We carried extra full size spare tires for the Outback and the Trailer. We carried emergency gas and lots of potable water since several areas have boil water advisories. We carried paper maps since 98% of the time we had no mobile access to use our smart phone navigation. This is one time when in car satellite based navigation would make sense.
So this is a wrap on our 2018 Arctic Road Trip. Hope you enjoyed tagging along, and please send us any questions.