ICE ROAD — Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk

March road trip on the Mackenzie River ice road

sunrise on the Tuktoyaktuk winter road

Mid March is a good time for travel on the ice road between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, NWT, since the days are long and prevailing cold conditions are reassuring, considering ice integrity and strength.

Before embarking, the traffic authorities in Inuvik were consulted to confirm the ice road was safe for travel; also to find out about specific conditions and concerns; also to judge whether the truck was properly equipped and adequate Arctic Survival gear was on-board. Traffic and emergency patrol on the road can be very light. A scheduled flight to Tuktoyaktuk was an alternative travel option to the rented Ford pick-up truck and 187 kilometer* long ice road trip (source: Department of Transportation) connecting the 2 communities. The ice road was maintained during the coldest winter months, late January to mid- March, when the frozen Mackenzie River becomes a two-lane highway that meanders north, branches off in the Mackenzie Delta and extends to the remote villages of Aklavik, NWT (52 kilometers to the north-west) and Tuktoyaktuk, NWT an additional 132 kilometres to the north-east on the coastline of the Arctic Ocean.

I understand the early traffic on the ice is snowmobilers, who are also the last group to use the trails during spring thaw. Often entire families will travel on the ice, with snow machines pulling sleds with children, elders and supplies, venturing to winter cabins further south. With the progression of spring thaw, the ice surface melts and thins, creating pools of melt water that close the river trails to all but the more ardent and risk-taking snowmobilers. Daredevil riders have been known to zip out onto open water and ride the surface like a jet ski**.    continued . . .

** Radio; local word of mouth

Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church (The Igloo Church) Inuvuk, NWT
Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church
(The Igloo Church) Inuvuk, NWT

Continued. . .

Map showing Tuktoyaktuk
Map Source: Trail Canada

Red star denotes Tuktoyaktuk
on the Arctic Ocean

Researched Information

Inuvik 1
Located  68°21'N  & 133°43'W,
on the east channel of the Mackenzie River
Tuktoyaktuk 2 Located 69°27'N  & 133°02'W,
on the shore of the Arctic Ocean (Beaufort Sea), at the discharge of the Mackenzie Delta
Arctic Circle 3 Located 66°33'N
Meterological 4 Conditions on Day of Trip TEMP: minus 30 ° C / minus 22 ° F
SKY: Clear at times with a foggy haze near the Mackenzie Delta

DAYLIGHT: 14 hrs approx.
Approx. Ice 4
Road Length
187 kilometers / 109 miles
References  1Wikipedia: Inuvik
 2Wikipedia: Tuktoyaktuk
  3Wikipedia: Arctic Circle
Town of Inuvik
Dept. of Transportation