Population: 411

Ross River, Yukon, is located on the south bank of the Pelly River, 233 miles northwest of Watson Lake via a 7 mile side road from the Campbell Highway.

Ross River is a supply and communication base for prospectors testing and mining mineral bodies in this region. It was named by Robert Campbell in 1843, for Chief Trader Donald Ross of the Hudson’s Bay Co. Ross River is 1 of 2 Kaska Dena communities in the Yukon.

With the building of the Canol pipeline service road in WWII and the completion of the Robert Campbell Highway in 1968, Ross River was linked by road to the rest of the territory. Originally situated on the north side of the Pelly River, the town has been in its present location on the southwest bank of the river since 1964.

Visitor Services

Dena General Store is a one-stop shop with a full-service grocery, Canada Post Outlet and gas station with diesel (24-hour cardlock/credit card service). Store is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends; phone 867-969- 2280. Post office is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday–Friday. Internet access is available at the Community Campus of Yukon College and at the public library.

The nearest campground is Lapie Canyon at Milepost WL 226.5.


Ross River, located in the heart of the Tintina Trench, is a jumping-off point for big game hunters and canoeists. Canoeists traveling the Pelly River can launch just downriver from the ferry crossing. Experienced canoeists recommend camping on the Pelly’s many gravel bars and islets to avoid bears, bugs and the danger of accidentally setting tundra fires. The Pelly has many sweepers, sleepers and gravel shallows, some gravel shoals, and extensive channeling. There are 2 sets of rapids between Ross River and the mouth of the Pelly: Fish Hook and Granite Canyon. Water is potable (boil first), firewood available and wildlife plentiful. Inquire locally about river conditions before setting out.

Wildlife viewing is very popular around Ross River and along the Campbell Highway. Species include moose, black and grizzly bears, wolves, lynx, Fannin sheep, Finlayson woodland caribou and a variety of waterfowl and migratory birds.

Rock hounds check Pelly River gravels for jaspers and the occasional agate, and plant lovers keep your eye out for the numerous Yukon endemic plants in the area.

The footbridge across the Pelly River at Ross River is a 70-year-old suspension bridge that was repaired in 2018. It is a favorite photo stop for visitors and offers essential pedestrian access for community members. The government-operated Pelly Barge across the Pelly River runs almost underneath the bridge on an underwater cable. Normal daily schedule in season (mid-May to mid-October) has been 8 a.m. to noon and 1–5 p.m. Inquire locally for current times or visit www.hpw.gov.yk.ca/trans/maintenance/yukon_ferries.html.

Canol Road

Across the river, the North Canol Road leads 144 miles/232 km to Macmillan Pass at the Northwest Territories border. The North Canol Road is a narrow, winding, rough road which some motorists have compared to a roller coaster. All bridges on the North Canol are 1-lane. Road surface can be very slippery when wet. Not recommended during wet weather and not recommended for RVs or trailers. Subject to closure due to washouts.

The Canol Road (Yukon Highway 6) was built in 1942-44 as part of the Canol (Canadian Oil) Project to provide access to oil fields at Norman Wells, NWT, on the Mackenzie River and to facilitate construction and maintenance of a 4-inch-diameter pipeline. Construction costs ballooned from an initial estimate of $30 million to more than $134 million, and production costs for the Canol oil was 4 times higher than the world price for oil, plus it was cheaper to ship oil from Skagway. Only about a million barrels of oil were pumped before the project was shut down in 1944. (Today, Norman Wells is still a major supplier of oil with a pipeline to Zama, AB, built in 1985. It was the first ever buried pipeline built in the Canadian north.)

For current road conditions on the North or South Canol Road, inquire locally and also visit www.511yukon.ca.

Drive with headlights on at all times! Make sure your tires are in good shape and carry a spare.

WARNING: There are no facilities on the North or South Canol Road beyond Ross River.