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Home What to DoRoad Trips Nahanni to Dehcho

The Nahanni to Dehcho driving route is your great circle tour of Canada's northern frontier.

This drive takes you from Fort Liard, through Nahanni Butte, leading you to small communities like Jean Marie River, Kakiska, and spanning all the way to the Alberta border! Stop in Fort Simpson along the way, which can be accessed by ferry or ice road depending on the season to take a flight to the Nahanni National Park Reserve. The epic road trip adventure takes its name from the Mackenzie River, which is known as the Deh Cho or “Big River”. All along the highway, historic landmarks, the South Nahanni river and wild parks beckon you to make roadside stops to take in the amazing and powerful landscapes of the North.

The pinnacle of this road trip is a side trip to the Nahanni National Park Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nahanni National Park Reserve can be accessed by float plane through the town of Fort Simpson,a cradle of Indigenous culture and traditions.

Unlike any other landscape, Nahanni National Park Reserve is a natural phenom sliced by great waters and freckled with peaks. A main feature of the Nahanni is the absolutely epic Virginia Falls (known traditionally as Náįlįcho), whose rapids surge over a drop twice the height of Niagara Falls. A trip to Nahanni isn’t complete without a guided tour down the river by raft, canoe or kayak with one of the professional river outfitters in the area.

The Nahanni to Dehcho driving route is a fantastic tour through the southwestern parts of the territory, with unlimited potential to delve deep into the North’s culture, landscapes, and adventures. Once you’ve driven this route, you’ll have a brand new understanding of Canada’s remote North.

Distance

634 km

Time

7hrs 42min

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Planning

Your road trip isn’t complete without a well-packed car filled with all the essentials. Don’t leave the house without bringing these along.

  • First Aid Kit
  • Roadside emergency kit
  • Spare Tires
  • Jerry can filled with gas
  • Food & Water
  • A paper map

The Nahanni to Dehcho driving route provides visitors and Northern residents travelling this stretch of highway with a reliable all-weather road. Road conditions range from 2-lane paved highways to hard-packed gravel, so it’s important to be mindful of road conditions and ensure your vehicle is dependable. Don’t forget a map and roadside emergency kit.

On this route, you’ll also want to watch for wildlife: bison lounging beside the road, foxes and occasionally wolves darting through the bushes; a range of raptors hunting for lunch; or graceful sandhill cranes strolling the riverbanks. Take the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the wildlife while driving safely around these creatures in their natural habitats.

Between communities in the North, there are long stretches where cell reception is not reliable. Make sure your service provider has coverage in the North, and phone ahead to the communities you are travelling to so people can know when to expect your arrival.

Getting there is half the fun! Plan out your route with these printable resources.