Canada’s New Arctic Coastal Highway Is Beautiful, Freezing

Dare you to get out of the car

November 28, 2017 9:00 am

According to legend, the Canadian town of Tuktoyaktuk (“resembling a caribou” in Inuit) derives its name from a woman saw some caribou wade into a nearby waterway before turning into stone reefs on the spot.

It’s almost plausible, given that the average local temps hover between 0 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit from November to April.

If you don’t believe us, check it out for yourself. Because thanks to a new highway, Tuk’s open for visits.

Completed over the course of four years with a price tag of nearly $235 million, the 85-mile Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway connects Inuvik to Tuk, which was previously only accessible by plane. The new route has also made it possible — for the first time — to drive the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic coasts of Canada in one trip.

Officially opened during a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this month, the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway is a permanent replacement for a seasonal ice road that would sometimes connect Inuvik and Tuk when conditions allowed it.

Ice Road (3 images)

The road sounds remote, rugged and pretty great, according to Northwest Territories Infrastructure Minister Wally Schumann.

“When you come out of Inuvik, for about 20 kilometers you don’t realize how much you’re going uphill,” Schumann told The Star. “The trees just get smaller and smaller and smaller and all of a sudden you’re on the top of a mountain and there’s no trees and you can see about 100 kilometres on both sides of the highway. It’s an amazing feeling.”

For further reading about road-tripping up to Tuk, The New York Times has some suggestions.

Ours would be to bring your jacket(s).


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.