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Driving the great Dempster Adventure

Updated: May 11, 2023

Dempster Highway - Credit: Anne Kokko

The Dempster Highway is the most fun you can have while sitting down. North America’s most adventurous road trip transports visitors in more ways than one. Long ribbons of road stretch 740 kilometers from Dawson City in Yukon to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. We will traverse stunning landscapes, see jagged peaks, crowds of caribou and grizzlies, pass the Arctic Circle, visit tight-knit Indigenous communities and cross Canada’s largest river – the mighty Mackenzie. And we feel a sense of adventure like no other. Driving the Dempster Highway really is one heck of a ride!

Traversing the Tombstones

Shortly after the Dempster Highway begins not far from Dawson City, fang-like peaks rear up, piercing the bright blue horizon. This is epic Tombstone Territorial Park, full of mind-bending mountains, alpine wildlife, tantalizing hiking trails and fine sites for scenic camping.

Hiking plans - Credit: Angela Gzowski

Entering the Artic Realm

The Dempster is Canada’s only highway to straddle the Arctic Circle. From here on north, the summer sun never sets, spinning itself dizzy in the sky. Here, adventurers cross into the true polar zone, a mythic region only a fraction of the travellers on Earth have ever entered.

Arctic Circle Sign - Credit: George Fischer

Exploring tight-knit villages

As the Dempster exits the Richardson Range, it visits two charming villages. First is the friendly old trading hub of Fort McPherson, home to the graves of the legendary Lost Patrol. Next is a tiny town with a big name – the Gwich’in settlement of Tsiigehtchic, with a scenic lookout over the Mackenzie and Arctic Red rivers.

Tsiigehtchic - Credit: Terry Parker

Wowing roadside wildlife

The Dempster passes through incredible boreal forest and tundra landscapes – wild, wide-open country, teeming with frontier wildlife. Travellers keep eyes peeled for grizzlies patrolling the mountain slopes, moose plodding through swamplands, and – at certain times of the year – herds of caribou so dense they block the highway and darken the far horizon.

Young Caribou - Credit: Terry Parker & Northwest Territories Tourism

Further information on the Northwest Territories can be found at


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