Canol Road

Connects: Johnson’s Crossing, Alaska Hwy., to NWT Border
Route#: Yukon Highway 6
Length: 286 miles
Road Surface: Gravel
Season: Closed in winter
Highest Pass: Macmillan Pass, elev, 4,480 feet/1,366m
Map (1 detailed pdf file available): 
Alaska Highway Junction, YT to Northwest Territories Border

The Canol Road was part of the Canol (Canadian Oil) Project: it was built in 1942-44 to provide access to oil fields at Norman Wells, NWT. Rebuilt in the 1950s, the road is maintained to minimum standards in summer. Trees may be blocking the road in areas too narrow to turn around. Services are available only at Johnson’s Crossing and at Ross River. The Canol Road it is not recommended for large RVs or trailers. Not recommended for any size vehicle in wet weather. Drive with headlights on at all times.

The Canol Road between Johnson’s Crossing on the Alaska Highway and Ross River on the Campbell Highway is referred to as the South Canol Road, while the road between Ross River and the YT–NWT border is referred to as the North Canol Road.

The North Canol Road crosses the South Macmillan River. (Earl Brown )

The 137-mile/220-km South Canol Road is a narrow winding road. There are some 1-lane bridges, sections of rough road, occasional road closures due to washouts, and no services. Driving time is about 4 hours one way in good weather and if there are no obstructions. The 144-mile/232-km North Canol Road is also a narrow, very winding road with possible washouts, no services, and 1-lane bridges; inquire about road conditions in Ross River before driving. The North Canol ends at the YT–NWT border, where vehicles may turn around. From the border to Norman Wells it is 230 miles/372 km of unusable road that has been designated the Canol Heritage Trail by the NWT government.  CAUTION: No services along road except at Johnson’s Crossing and at Ross River. This road is not recommended for tourist traffic.

The MILEPOST® Quick Reference Log
Miles from Alaska Highway junction (J) shown.

J 0 Junction of the South Canol Road with the Alaska Highway; rest area toilets, a few WWII vehicles (pictured at left) from the Canol Project on display, and interpretive signs on the history and construction of the Canol Road. Food, gas and camping are available at nearby  Johnson’s Crossing Lodge & RV Park on the Alaska Highway (at north side of Teslin River bridge).
J 30.6 Sidney Lake; informal camping.
J 42 Access to Nisutlin River Recreation Site; informal camping.
J 47.8 Quiet Lake South Yukon government campground.

J 56 Turnout with litter bins and point-of-interest sign overlooking Quiet Lake.
J 61.2 Quiet Lake North Yukon government campground.

J 61.5 Yukon government Quiet Lake maintenance camp; a vintage Canol Project dump truck and pull grader are on display in front of the camp. No traveler services, but  satellite phone may be available for emergency use only.
J 102.5 Lapie Lakes to west; informal camping.
J 132.2 One-lane bridge over Lapid River No. 2; Lapie River Canyon walking trail.
J 136.8 Campbell Highway junction. Northbound travelers turn left on to Campbell Highway and drive 5 miles west; turn north an

Pelly barge at Ross River ferries vehicles across the river. (Earl Brown)

d take access road 7 miles for Ross River.
J 148.8 ROSS RIVER (pop. 411); general store, gas station, bank. If operating, the Pelly Barge (pictured at right) carries passengers and vehicles across the Pelly River to the start of the North Canol Road; inquire locally for ferry schedule and road conditions.
J 213.9 Dragon Lake; informal camping.
J 262.4 One-lane bridge over South Macmillan River No. 1.
J 269.3 Entering Macmillan Pass (“Mac Pass”), elev, 4,480 feet/1,366m. Very scenic in late summer and fall (snow possible).

J 278.2 One-lane bridge over Macmillan River No. 2.

J 278.3 Abandoned Army vehicles from the Canol Project. NOTE: This large cache of trucks and equipment is protected under Yukon’s Historic Resources Act.

J 286.5 One-lane bridge over Macmillan River No. 3.

J 290.6 One-land bridge over Macmillan River No. 4.

J 291.7 One-land bridge over Macmillan River No. 5.

J 292.9 One-lane bridge over Macmillan River No. 6.

J 293 Road ends at YT-NWT border; vehicle turnaround.

WWII vehicles on North Canol Road are protected by the Yukon’s Historic Resources Act. (Earl Brown)