Boldly jutting into the Arctic Ocean, the Inuvialuit hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk is a prime place to experience how traditional ways of life blend with modern Arctic living – all accessible via the northernmost road in Canada.
This community of about 900 people takes its name from the Inuvialuktun word meaning ‘resembling a caribou.’ According to local legend, many years ago a herd of caribou waded into the ocean waters here and turned to stone. Reefs resembling the petrified caribou are said to still be visible at low tide from the shore.
Caribou continue to play a vital role in the livelihood and sustenance of the residents of this community, which is commonly referred to simply as “Tuk.” Once called Port Brabant, Tuktoyaktuk has the historical distinction of being the first place in Canada to revert to a traditional Indigenous name.
Over the decades Tuk has served as a Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line radar site and a centre for oil and gas exploration in the Beaufort Sea. Today, the community welcomes visitors from all over the world who tour the nearby pingos, sample traditional food like muktuk, and dip their toes in the chilly waters of the Arctic Ocean.
You can reach Tuk via a short 30-minute flight from Inuvik, but most visitors will want to hit the highway. Tuktoyaktuk is the only community in Canada on the Arctic Ocean that’s connected to the rest of the country by public road and the furthest north someone can drive in Canada.
The all-season “Road to Tuk” opened in 2017 to great fanfare. The highway twists and turns through the tundra, passing ice hills, gorgeous lakes, and unmatched scenery.
The drive takes about two-and-a-half hours from Inuvik, making Tuk a perfect day trip. Take care, though. The highway can be rough in spots and is mostly beyond cell service. Make sure you bring provisions and drive with caution.