Congratulations! You’ve made it to the top of the world. Travellers from all over the globe arrive in Tuktoyaktuk and head to the shore to take a dip in the brisk waters of the Arctic Ocean. It’s a mysterious, life-giving body of water that few get to see with their own eyes, let alone stick their toes in.
The smallest and shallowest (and coldest) of the world’s five major oceans, the Arctic Ocean is nevertheless teeming with life – from ice algae and phytoplankton to dizzying schools of fish and awe-inspiring marine mammals like seals, whales, walruses and polar bears.
Follow the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, and then onward on the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway, journeying north as the east channel of the Mackenzie River snakes its way towards the mouth of the Beaufort Sea. You’ll pass the treeline where the boreal forest ends and enter the wide-open tundra of the Barrenlands and the grazing range of Canada’s only herd of domestic reindeer.
The all-season highway, which takes about two-and-a-half hours to drive from Inuvik, ends at the furthest point north someone can reach by car in Canada. Take care on your journey as the highway can be rough in spots and the trip is almost all beyond cell service. Make sure you bring provisions and drive with caution.