Dempster Highway to Eagle Plains
We travel today on the famed Dempster Highway over somewhat inhospitable terrain that traverses low mountain ranges. “The Dempster”, as it is known locally, is an extraordinary road leading North through some of the most lonely and inaccessible territory in North America. The road was only completed in the late 1980’s. It is used as a year round supply route to the communities on the Beaufort Sea, which have access to the Arctic Ocean and the Northwest Passage.
Between October and June, trucks roll north the entire winter season. Their drivers sleep at Eagle Plains, using the Ice-Bridges, rather than the ferries over the rivers and never turning off their engines for as long as it takes to get there and back.
The Dempster runs for 450 miles through a variety of stark, yet magnificent scenery. Treeless tundra, alpine foothills, valleys with arctic wildflowers, which all come to life in the brief Arctic summer. View extensive grazing plains for the migrating herds of Caribou, while off in the distance, two Arctic mountain ranges, The Ogilvy’s and The Richardsons, loom majestically, almost like silent sentinals as we travel on our way.
See communities such as Tsiigehnjik (Arctic Red River) and Teet’lit Zhen (Fort McPherson) before arriving at the Arctic Circle. A small sign commemorates this momentous crossing. The Eagle Plains Motel where we will spend the night is just down the road from the circle.