North on the Deh Cho Route, Alaska Highway, and Klondike Loop – 3,874 miles
This all-land itinerary features a lot of wilderness driving and offers an off-the-beaten-path choice on the inbound portion via the Deh Cho Route through Northwest Territories to junction with the Alaska Highway. Also in the mix: The less traveled Bighorn Route coupled with the wildly popular Icefields Parkway (both in Alberta).
East Access Route
Head north on the East Access Route from Great Falls, MT, crossing into Alberta at Sweetgrass, MT/Coutts, AB, and continue north to Calgary, one of the province’s two largest population centers. Turn west on Trans-Canada Highway 1 to the spectacular Icefields Parkway. From Jasper, at the north end of the Icefields Parkway, drive east 45 miles to reach the Bighorn Highway and take it north to Grande Prairie.
From Grande Prairie, one of the portals to Alberta’s Peace River region, continue driving north. Stop at the remarkable Dunvegan Provincial Park and Historic Site en route. Continue on to Grimshaw, which is Mile Zero of the Mackenzie Highway. The Mackenzie Highway is part of the Deh Cho Route itinerary through Northwest Territories.
A well-maintained, two-lane highway, the Mackenzie Highway travels straight through northern Alberta, and into Northwest Territories about 400 miles north of Grande Prairie. From the Alberta/NWT border, the Deh Cho Route continues as NWT Highway 1, the aptly named Waterfalls Route, featuring the spectacular Alexandra and Louise waterfalls.
Deh Cho Route
A number of NWT highways connect with the Deh Cho Route, each with its own attractions. We suggest you take the Frontier Trail (Highway 3) to Yellowknife. Along the way see herds of bison. This highway crosses a pre-Cambrian shield to a modern city on the territory’s largest lake.
The Deh Cho Route follows Highway 1 to junction with the Liard Trail south to the Alaska Highway. Make the 76-mile round-trip side trip to Fort Simpson before continuing on to Fort Liard and then the Alaska Highway junction, 17 miles west of Fort Nelson.
From the Liard Trail junction, drive northwest 312 miles to Watson Lake, first stop in the Yukon. At Watson Lake, you continue northwest on the Alaska Highway to just beyond Whitehorse, where it junctions with the Klondike Highway to Dawson City.
After exploring Dawson City, the first capital of Yukon and a Klondike Gold Rush heritage site, take the 5-minute ferry ride across the Yukon River. (Check with the Visitor Information Centre in Dawson City, YT, about border opening if you are traveling in the shoulder seasons.) On the other side you will follow the Top of the World Highway into Alaska, then the Taylor Highway south through Chicken and the historic Fortymile gold mining district to the Alaska Highway 12 miles east of Tok. From Tok, continue west on the Alaska Highway and then north on the Richardson Highway to Fairbanks, then south on the Parks Highway to Anchorage.
South on the Cassiar & Yellowhead highways to the East Access Route – 2,669 miles
The outbound portion of this trip takes the Glenn Highway/Tok Cutoff from Anchorage to Tok, then the Alaska Highway from Tok east and south to the Cassiar Highway/Highway 37. The Cassiar offers an easy access 2-lane highway to Stewart, BC, and Hyder, AK, via Highway 37A. This is a photo worthy side trip with Bear and Salmon glaciers and bear viewing (Fish Creek).
The southern terminus of the Cassiar Highway junctions with Yellowhead Highway 16. Travel east to Edmonton on the East Access Route, then south to Calgary (or veer south at Jasper for Icefields Parkway to Calgary) and continue south to Great Falls, MT.
Great Falls to Calgary: 320 miles
Calgary to Grande Cache: 374 miles
Grande Cache to Yellowknife: 843 miles
Yellowknife to Fort Simpson: 390 miles
Fort Simpson to Watson Lake: 595 miles
Watson Lake to Whitehorse: 275 miles
Whitehorse to Dawson City: 323 miles
Dawson City to Fairbanks: 390 miles
Fairbanks to Anchorage: 364 miles
Anchorage to Tok: 328 miles
Tok to Whitehorse: 396 miles
Whitehorse to Dease Lake: 395 miles
Dease Lake to Prince George: 602 miles
Prince George to Edmonton: 454 miles
Edmonton to Great Falls: 494 miles