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Canada’s Only Arctic Circle Drive Turns 40

Yukon - Dempster Highway

Canada’s only all-weather road across the Arctic Circle, one of the world’s most unique driving routes, turns 40 in 2019. Construction on the 417-mile Dempster Highway, which roughly follows the old dog sled route from Dawson City to Fort McPherson, began in 1959.

Dempster Highway

The Dempster Highway is a driver’s dream and the Yukon territory boasts a network of well-maintained highways that rank among the world’s premiere scenic driving adventures. By road, it’s an exhilarating combination of postcard scenery, historic communities, cultural attractions and adventure outings.

The unpaved two-lane Dempster Highway can be a challenge for some people, but for most visitors it’s the thrill of a lifetime. It’s home to Dall’s sheep, mountain goats, moose, woodland and barren ground caribou, wolves, wolverines, lynx, fox, along with grizzly and black bears, as well as several hundred species of birds-both resident and migratory. The sun shines 24 hours a day in the Yukon in the summertime.

Visitors should take a couple of days to explore historic Dawson City and learn about the Klondike Gold Rush. A century after thousands of miners flooded into Dawson looking for gold, it’s a story that still captivates and entertains. Visit national historic sites, take a town walking tour, and enjoy Dawson’s lively nightlife.

Situated near the start of the Dempster Highway, Tombstone Territorial Park offers an unbelievable landscape, memorable for its jagged peaks and colour-stained hills. While just a few miles north is a land referred to as Beringia, the only area in much of North America that wasn’t under ice during the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago. The granite Tombstones have been scoured by ice and weather into stalagmite-like peaks and pinnacles that rise high from the tundra carpet. Yukon, about the size of France, is part mountains, part boreal forest and part tundra. All these environments crash together in wonderfully scenic confusion in Tombstone Park.

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