The Arctic Circle is accessible from the Canadian side through the Yukon Highway 5 (aka. the Dempster Highway). The 740 km (458 mi) unpaved highway starts from Dawson City, through the northern tundra, and ends in Tuktoyuktuk where you will be able to access the Arctic Ocean.
My last stretch of the 2021 northern journey started from Whitehorse. I returned from Atlin, the most remote town in BC, re-entering into Yukon.
There was no sign prohibiting motor vehicle access. But I still got yelled at attempting to enter the desert. Since it doesn’t lead to anywhere anyways, I had no issue parking outside and ventured in on foot.
It’s quite amazing how a splash of sand sits among the trees. Stunningly out of place.
After getting an expensive carwash, it was time to clean up myself too. I had a night booked at Yukon Inn in Whitehorse. This was my first proper shower after leaving Edmonton! Well, Liard Hot Springs could count as a soak but definitely not a pond for shampooing.
The next day, we headed north, not wasting any minute. There’s a local secret cinnamon bun spot in the middle of Whitehorse and Carmacks – Braeburn Lodge. I stopped by on the way back. There were a few dogs outside guarding the door. The cinnamon bun was massive and delicious.
Arrived in Dawson City!
The SS Keno historic sternwheel paddle steamer in Dawson City.
Keep driving on the main road, The ferry by the end took us across the Yukon River. From there, we entered the Top Of The World Highway.
In late September, Top Of The World Highway was already covered in snow. We turned around and back to Dawson City to check into our hotel for the night. I booked Downtown Hotel in hopes to do a famous sour toe shot but the bar was closed for renovation and the captain wasn’t here to serve…
The next morning, I stopped by the visitor info center for a map and real-time road conditions. There had just been a snowstorm the night before so the Dempster Highway was covered in snow from 50km up. The lady at the counter phoned Eagle Plains and confirmed that trucks have been getting up ok this morning. This long stretch of remote road faces conditions that change all the time. So I highly recommend checking with the visitor center before you head up.
There are two gas stations at the beginning of Dempster Highway. Make sure to fuel up before you go. The next fuel stop is Eagle Plains 370kms away.
A very long drive later, we arrived at Eagle Plains. There’s lodging, a restaurant, a mechanic shop, and fuel stations. I checked in and asked about the road condition toward Arctic Circle.
It was starting to get icy as the sun goes down but I was eager to get there today.
The first snowfall of 2021 on Dempster Highway made the trip a lot more difficult but we made it to the Circle. At the time of this trip, Northwest Territories was still closed for travel due to COVID restrictions. So Arctic Ocean (Tuktoyuktuk) wasn’t legally approachable unless with a permit. Since April 2022, the travel policy had opened and many had reached the Arctic Ocean from the Dempster Highway. I look forward to coming back again and potentially reaching Alaska as well.