Connects: Klondike Highway to Inuvik, NWT
Route#: Yukon Highway 5, NWT Highway 8
Length: 456 miles
Road Surface: Gravel
Season: Open all year
Highest Pass: North Fork Pass Summit, elev. 4,229 feet/1,289m
Map (1 detailed pdf file available):
Klondike Highway Junction to Inuvik, Northwest Territories
The Dempster Highway begins about 25 miles/40 km east of Dawson City, YT, at its junction with the Klondike Highway, and ends at Inuvik, NWT. Facilities are few and far between. It is strongly recommended that motorists carry a full-sized spare tire (or 2 spare tires if they are an unusual size) as well as extra water and gas.
Construction of the Dempster Highway began in 1959 and was finally completed in 1978, although it did not officially open until Discovery Day weekend in 1979. It was named for Inspector William John Duncan Dempster of the RCMP.
Although in relatively good condition, this highway requires drivers pay attention at all times for sudden changes in road surface, including frost heaves, potholes, boggy or slick stretches, crushed shale (hard on tires) and other drivers. Drivers should pull-over (if space allows) for oncoming trucks or to allow trucks to pass. Drive with your headlights on at all times. Free ferries transport motorists across the Peel River and the Mackenzie River. Ferries operate about 15 hours a day in summer/fall, from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. between late May or early June to mid-October or first week in November. Crossing is on demand ferry service and/or ice bridge in winter.
Ferries can close with little or no notice due to various conditions, including freeze-up and break-up, so check current Highway & Ferry Conditions posted online under Highways & Ferries, or by phoning 1-800-661-0750.
The MILEPOST® Quick Reference Log
Miles from Klondike Highway 2 junction (J) shown.
J 0 Dempster Corner, junction with Kondike Highway 2 (see Milepost J 298.3 Klondike Loop). APD public card lock gas station with diesel (follow prompts on screen) at northeast corner. NOTE: Next gas northbound is at Eagle Plains, 229 miles/369 km from here.
J 44 Tombstone Interpretive Centre (pictured at left); open daily from first week in June to about mid-September; natural history displays, interpretive programs, backcountry camping permits, maps and hiking information.
J 44.5 Tombstone Mountain Yukon government campground; 48 campsites.
J 46 Tombstone Range Viewpoint.
J 49.3 North Fork Pass Summit, elev, 4,593 feet/1,400m, highest point on Dempster Highway.
J 63.7 Two Moose Lake turnout and viewing platform.
J 95.2 Windy Pass Summit, elev. 3,478 feet/1,060m; turnouts.
J 120.4 Engineer Creek Yukon government campground; 15 campsites.
J 160.9 Ogilvie Ridge/Gwazhal Kak Viewpoint; double-ended turnout with interpretive panels.
J 229.3 Traditional Mile 231. EAGLE PLAINS (pop. 8). Eagle Plains Hotel phone 867-993-2453 or email; open year-round. Accommodations; licensed dining room and lounge; gas/diesel/propane/AVgas; tow truck and tire repair; camping.
J 252 Arctic Circle Crossing; picnic tables, litter bins, outhouses.
J 277 Rock River Yukon government campground; 20 campsites.
J 288.9 YT-NWT Border. Historical marker, good photo-op.
J 334.9 Peel River Crossing via free CF Abraham Francis.
J 336 Nitainlaii Territorial Territorial Park Interpretive Centre and Campground. Book NWT campgrounds online at Northwest Territories Parks.
J 341.9 Junction with access road west to FORT McPHERSON (pop. 700); grocery stores, food, gas/diesel, lodging. Attractions: Lost Patrol Gravesite at Anglican Church (pictured at left). Local industry includes Fort McPherson Tent & Canvas factory.
J 377.4 Mackenzie River ferry crossing via free MV Louis Cardinal (pictured at right).
J 426 Vadzaih Van Tsik Campground; 11 campsites.
J 433.2 Titheqehchii Vitail Lookout to west; 10-minute walk to viewing platform overlooking Campbell Lake.
J 434.5 Gwich’in Territorial Campground; 15 campsites.
J 440.5 Ehjuu Njik day-use area.
J 442.4 Nihtak day-use area.
J 453.8 Jak Territorial Park Campground; 36 campsites.
J 455.3 Arctic Chalet and Arctic Adventure Tours; full-service cabins, tours to Tuktoyaktuk and Herschel Island.
J 456.1 Turnoff on to Mackenzie Road for Inuvik town centre. INUVIK (pop. 3,243) has all services; visit Town of Inuvik. Stop by Western Arctic Regional Visitors Centre, across from hospital on Mackenzie Road, for maps and information on local attractions and events. Lodging at Capital Suites in downtown and outside town at Arctic Chalet. Camping in town at Happy Valley Territorial Park. For details on camping visit nwtparks.ca or phone 1-800-661-0788. . Inuvik hosts the Great Northern Arts Festival in July. Sightseeing with Arctic Adventure Tours. The Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway—Canada’s newest, northernmost all-season highway—opened in 2017, replacing the former winter-only ice road. For more on Northwest Territories, visit Spectacular Northwest Territories.