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Ice Road Tours

My Happy SVG

Ice Roads – A Uniquely Northern Way To Travel In The NWT

There’s something surreal about driving across a mighty layer of ice and watching your GPS take you further and further out into the blue area of the map. Enjoy the thrill, you’re experiencing one of the truly unique winter activities in Canada’s North – travelling across a true ice road in the NWT.

The winter ice roads in the NWT have been a reliable way to travel in the North for generations, and they’re a uniquely Northern way to connect the communities across the North, most of which are connected by waterways. To share in the ice road adventure, tours are equipped to convey you between communities or to an aurora viewing lodge, ice fishing shack, or spot for other outdoor winter activities.

Most ice roads open in December and are safe to travel until April. The thickness of the ice is regularly tested by the territorial government, and closures are communicated as clearly as for any major highway. While their dramatic potential is exaggerated for television and film, the ice roads are safe and frequently travelled; maintaining the territory’s 20 or so ice roads is a well-valued art. The meters of thick ice is incredibly solid, so you can enjoy the thrill of peering down at the ice roads’ deep blue smooth surface and its mesmerizing mosaic of frozen air bubbles and cracks, knowing in reality the frozen surface is completely safe.

The ice road most travelled by visitors begins right in the capital’s Houseboat Bay. The route connecting Yellowknife to Dettah is only six km over an ice road, but carves through the community of houseboats, ice fishing shacks, and throughout the month of March, hand-carved ice sculptures and the Snowking’s colossal winter snow castle. This ice road has become its own attraction, a sparkling, lively winter trail full of snowmobiles, joggers, kite-skiers, kick-sledders and fat bikes making their way across the ice highway.

Overall, winter roads link a total of 12 towns. Some routes are short – the winter road to Nahanni Butte, for instance, is just a few kilometres long, crossing the Liard River to Highway 7, 95 km north of Fort Liard. Others span hundreds of kilometers, like the Mackenzie Valley Winter road, which connects five communities through the Dehcho and Sahtu regions. Cross the Arctic circle or skirt along the Arctic coast – the ice roads can take you to every corner of our spectacular territory.

Something is always happening on the ice roads, and, depending on where you are, the time of year and luck, you may also meet reindeer herds or see locals travelling via dog teams or snowmobiles from one community to another.

Like all highway travel, staying aware of road conditions is especially important on the ice roads. For information on when ice roads open and highway conditions, check the Northwest Territories government website for details. See all sorts of winter attractions in the NWT as you travel down the ice roads, an integral part of the Northern lifestyle and a unique way to connect the communities during the winter months.