Ever since I found out you could drive up to the Arctic ocean, I’ve dreamed of doing it. I finally reached it a few days ago after driving nearly 9000 km. What a journey it’s been. Once you reach the Stewart Cassier highway in BC, you start to bump into over adventurers going north. Some to Alaska and some to the Dempster.
People on bicycles, motorcycles, trucks, RVs, vans, cars and huge earthroamers. All of them with the same goal: going somewhere to see for themselves what it’s like instead of just looking at pictures of the place.
I knew the Arctic ocean is cold. But now I know what it feels like to put my foot in it.
The destination ultimately, was a bit underwhelming. I’ve had a few days to reflect on this and I think I felt like I shouldn’t be there. Tuktoyaktuk was connected to the world by road in 2017 and since then, every summer, except for during the pandemic, an onslaught of travelers go there to dip their foot in the ocean and take a picture with a sign.
But the locals lost their secluded life. Their peace and quiet. And even though they were friendly and welcoming, I still felt uneasy.
Anyway, for me, it was truly about the journey and not the destination. I met so many other cool travelers on the road. When I got to the NWT border, there was this other guy traveling in a Jeep. We talked a bit. And kept bumping into each other all morning. We stopped at the same spot for lunch. We decided to make a push for Tuk and skip Inuvik (well, we stopped for gas). Or this couple I met on the side of the Dempster while I was having lunch. Ended up talking with them for over an hour just there in the mountains. Or all the people at that hostel in Whitehorse.
This trip has changed me as a person. Traveling solo, I’ve been forced to be more social, as it was getting a bit lonely. I’ve also caught the bug of traveling. I now know I can make it all the way south to Argentina.
Lastly, a bit of wisdom that I received from another older traveler, for those visiting a place where the sun nevers sets like the Arctic: bring a Buff or something similar with you. You can fashion a bandana with it to cover your eyes. It helps with sleeping. Especially if you’re camping.
If you’re looking for an epic adventure, 10/10 I highly recommend the Dempster highway all the way to Tuktoyaktuk. Except for that weird smell at the hotel in Eagle Plains (those who’ve been know).
edit: just thought of this. if you can do 500 km with your vehicle, you don’t need to bring extral fuel. you can get it in eagle plains, fort mcpherson, inuvik and tuktoyaktuk. do bring a full size spare though. i met a guy in eagle plains who had been waiting for 4-5 days to get one shipped up.