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8 slick reasons to experience legendary ice roads

Northwest Territories ice road

8 slick reasons to experience legendary ice roads

A version of this post was first published on the Spectacular Northwest Territories websiteExternal Link Title.


Welcome to the land where ice roads were born. Each winter, our legendary web of frozen freeways spans nearly 2,000 kilometres, offering the coolest automotive adventures. Just outside Yellowknife is the ice road to the Dene village of Dettah -- a literal spin on the four-foot-thick surface of Great Slave Lake. Way up in the polar zone you can drive on the Arctic Ocean. And across the rest of the territory? A glittering array of winter-only highways to traditional communities, wild lodges, and stupendous natural scenery. Here are nine reasons to rev up for a polar road trip.


1. Reindeer x-ing

The best place to see reindeerExternal Link Title in Canada? On the Mackenzie Delta winter road system. Each spring, 3,000 domesticated reindeer are herded to their calving grounds on the coast, crossing the ice road just north of the town of InuvikExternal Link Title. The event has become an international spectacle, with hundreds of locals and visitors gathering to witness the migration.


2. Cool communities

Ice roads are a lifeline to the North's off-the-beaten-path communities. A dozen of our otherwise-inaccessible towns depend on these wintertime links to the outside world. For you, ice roads are a way in - to experience rich culture and remarkable sights in towns like WhatiExternal Link Title, DelineExternal Link Title, Trout LakeExternal Link Title and AklavikExternal Link Title.


3. Drive to the lights

The best Northern Lights are far from the streetlamps of town. Drive an ice road into the dreamy darkness, recline your seat back, and watch the sky come alive.


4. It's safe!

Winter roads aren’t dangerous. A foot of ice can support a passenger car. The ice roads of the Northwest Territories are far beefier, with many of them a metre thick or more. Crews monitor and maintain them on a constant basis, flooding the surface to add extra layers of ice.


5. Drives where Alex drives

Ice Road Truckers, the TV series, featured Yellowknife trucker Alex Debogorski – a wild Northern character if ever there was one. You can roll the same roads that made Alex a legend. You might even meet him in person.


6. Cruise to the castle

Ice roads are the only way to reach Yellowknife's famous ice castle, the centrepiece of the March-long Snow King Winter FestivalExternal Link Title. Don't miss it!


7. Where the wild things roam

Don't be buffaloedExternal Link Title. Each freezin' season, a winter road stretches south of Fort Smith through epic Wood Buffalo National ParkExternal Link Title. This is the best way to visit the park's remote southeastern reaches -- and a great chance to experience historic Fort Chipewyan, one of the North's oldest and most scenic communities.


8. Drive to Nunavut

Want to drive to Nunavut? For two months each winter, the Barrenlands of the Northwest Territories are traversed by the planet’s longest ice road – a 600-kilometre frozen highway rolling across lakes and tundra clear to the Nunavut border. Though designed for mining transport trucks, this private road also carries hunters, photographers, and adventurers. If you tackle it, you'll need guts, gas, and Arctic-grade cold weather gear.