Yukon, Northwest Territories & Alaska
Past World Cycling Tours (early 2000s)
Years past, I did 4 rides up in the far north, flying in to Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Inuvik and Prudhoe Bay (Deadhorse), then making my way south. I also did a ride up to and about incredible Haida Gwai. Big, sweeping country - can make one feel really small. Lots of tough riding, far from anywhere, with lots of wildlife, including a couple of bear encounters, getting forced off the road by a porcupine and getting routed by a goose.
Did you ever wonder why so many species of birds go to the trouble of migrating all the way to the Arctic every year to nest? It's because there are so many bugs. Particularly if you go in the spring, take lots of bug repellant, a full face mesh cover, and long sleeved riding clothes that you can use even in hotter weather. Also - bring one of those cloth airline eye covers: in summer, there's light 24 hours a day, and this can make it very hard to sleep, which is the last thing you'll want when you're working so hard physically.
Now that the Dempster Highway has been extended north from Inuvik to the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyuktuk, I'm thinking of going back again, as the Dempster was my favourite among all these rides.
Check out below for a the slide show, some more description and a route maps below. A caution: the slide show pics are not that good - these trips were back in the days before I bought a digital camera.
Northern Rides - Routes
Here's my northern rides. See the map below. On several of these I rode from the far north all the way home to Vancouver. On others, I took the ferry south from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy, then rode down the Island. Here's a little about the rides:
the first venture north was up Vancouver Island to catch a ferry to Prince Rupert, and a connection to Haida Gwai (dark blue route on map). Riding on Haida Gwai was limited as there are not many public roads, and I was not yet that adventurous in terms of backroads. But this is a visit I would totally recommend: the islands are a different world, atmospheric, older, moss drenched forests. Be sure to check out Massett, Naikoon Provincial Park and Toe Hill campground in the NE.
next, flew up to Whitehorse, capital of Yukon, then rode home via the incredible Cassiar Highway (liked it so much I did it again a few years later), east on the Yellowhead Highway to Prince George, then south back home (brown route on map).
follow the red route next. I flew into Yellowknife, capital of the Northwest Territories, on the northern shores of Great Slave Lake - be sure to check out the famous fresh fish from the deep, cold waters. Then I rode the Mackenzie and Liard Highways SE to Fort Nelson in NE BC (woke up one morning with a bear in my campsite). Then south on the Alaska Highway to Dawson Creek, east into Alberta to connect with the Bighorn Highway into the high Rocky Mountains, finally looping back into BC.
(continued after map)
I had wind in my sails, and next it was up to Inuvik in the NWT, far north of the tree line, to ride south on the fabled Dempster Highway (light blue route on map), still a lifelong highlight. If you like real big, remote country on dirt tracks, this is for you. Upon reaching the old gold rush town of Dawson City, I headed south on the Alaska Highway, branching off on 2 more long remote side highways - the Campbell and the Cassiar. Took the ferry south from Prince Rupert, but this time getting off at Bella Coola, and riding the beautiful Chilcotin Highway (including 'the Hill').
finally, I flew up to Prudhoe Bay, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and the wonderfully named town of Deadhorse, to ride south on the Dalton Highway, constructed to service the Alaska Pipeline (see magenta/purple route). More real big, real remote country. Made my way through Fairbanks, then rode the stellar Denali Highway. Had to change my route plans due to forest fires all over, and ended up taking a ferry south from Seward to Prince Rupert.