It’s a show and a story about adventure, perseverance, human ingenuity, and tons of danger, as truckers hit the icy roads of North America each winter to push through brutal temperatures and to drive on perilous roads while their families stay behind waiting out the season for them to come safely home. Often times, it’s life or death for these brave men and women risking their lives at treacherous spots, such as the Mackenzie River Delta region of the Northwest Territories in Canada, or the remote communities of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk where ice roads run north over hundreds of miles of frozen river and sea past the Arctic Circle.
Prior to the opening of the road in 1981, the only wintertime access to the area was possible only by dogsled. Since then, the History Channel reality show has teamed up clients with competitive trucking companies over the years to work together to move hundreds of heavy and oversized loads on an unforgiving delivery schedule. Shipments must be made if millions of dollars are not to be thrown out the window, and often times, if deliveries are not successfully made, projects will not be completed and revenue will be lost for entire towns, truckers, and trucking companies. Much is at stake and much more needs to be done—put yourselves in the shoes of someone driving an eighteen wheeler by trying out your very own navigation skills. Though ice road trucking may not be for the faint of heart, it is possible to do something similar in an actual the car. Here are some cities you probably like to make your way through as you recreate your own polartastic Ice Road Truckers road trip, including places to eat, sleep, and warm up.
Here's How To Create Your Own Ice Road Truckers Road Trip
1. Coldfoot Camp - Dalton Highway, Alaska
What was once a rowdy commercial center for local miners during the Koyukuk gold rush of 1898 to 1900 is now a resurrected oil pipeline camp consisting of a truck stop, an airstrip, a motor lodge, and a few ramshackle cabins. Truckers can leave their motors running to stay warm, or head on inside the actual truck stop, where plywood walls are covered from top to bottom with worn photographs of gold mining glory days, antlers ears, as well as colorful graffiti artwork left by others. Be sure to sip up some of that homemade split pea and ham soup or to congregate in the back room with a nice pot of specially brewed coffee while watching some news headlines.
Bordered by Ontario to the east and Saskatchewan to the west, this landscape of lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, and prairies stretches all the way from the northern Arctic tundra to Hudson Bay in the east and then down to southern farmland. There are more than eighty provincial parks to check out, where hiking, camping, fishing, biking, and canoeing opportunities await.
Make sure to check out the fuzzy polar bears and the Eskimo Museum in Churchill, popularly known as the "Polar Bear Capital of the World," or to get the full on beach experience over at Grand Beach Provincial Park, one of the nicest beaches in Canada—it’s a hot spot for sun seekers and campers looking to get away from the city. Maybe even check out the Festival du Voyageur, one of the region’s premier winter events celebrating the French Voyageurs who transported furs in birch bark canoes. It takes place each February in St. Boniface, offering all kinds of outdoor events, traditional French music and cuisine, and other entertainment held in outdoor tents.
3. Deadhorse Camp – Fairbanks, Alaska
Live and work arctic style on Alaska's Coastal plain at a place where the most adaptable of humans, plants, and animals come together to sustain life. There’s 24-hour arctic sunlight within the region, and simply put, it’s a vast and distant spot that’s full of enough splendor and passion to inspire intrepid travelers hoping to venture off-the-beaten-path.
Located at mile 415 of the Dalton Highway, this camp sits atop a 7.5-acre gravel pad accompanied by unlimited tundra to the west, east, and south. Directly north is the contractor community of Deadhorse, the Prudhoe Bay oil fields, and the Arctic Ocean at the Beaufort Sea. The area offers camp-style accommodations to travelers in a cozy 17-room camp, as well as a tasty café with a diverse menu, and Arctic Ocean Shuttles, which provides transportation through the Prudhoe Bay oil fields to view the Arctic Ocean.
It may be a sparsely populated area, but it would make for more than a great stop for any icy adventure. Situated in northwest Canada, the wild and mountainous region includes hotspots like Kluane National Park and Reserve, Mount Logan (Canada’s highest peak), as well as glaciers, trails, and rivers galore. Travel further north to explore Ivvavik National Park, where you’ll see tons of Porcupine caribou, or to the south to witness the bold colors of the gorgeous Emerald Lake.
Discover Northern lights, midnight sun, iconic drives, and Klondike Gold Rush, along with heritage and culture unlike any other place in the world. Let’s just say that driving to and through the Yukon offers a road trip of a lifetime, so make sure to sip up some coffee and to pick up some Northern art at Whitehorse, to learn about the history and culture of the inland Tlingit people in Teslin, to gawk over float planes on the picturesque Schwatka Lake while passing Miles Canyon Road, and to trek over the Highway into Dawson City, an authentic gold rush town bursting with attractions. Immerse yourself in the history of the region at the Dawson City Museum, Dredge No. 4, and the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre. Or even join in on the fun with the dancehall girls over at Diamond Tooth Gerties!
5. Dempster Highway – Alaska
Want to truly feel like an ice road trucker out on the road? Test the ice and explore the Arctic all while discovering the best the North has to offer by taking on Dempster Highway, the only road in Canada that crosses the Arctic Circle. Experience the awesome beauty of northern mountain wilderness by trekking over legendary roads, seeing Northern Lights dance over Eagle Plains, and by truly stepping into dangerous trucker shoes by pedaling hard over the famous Ice Road to Tuktoyaktuk on the shores of the Arctic Ocean.
You’ll be ready to take on anything after thumbing for a ride down the 417-mile-long path, which was built from gravel and crushed stone on top of permanently frozen ground. Danger awaits—but rest assured, there are plenty of cozy stops to warm up at along the way like Aurora Inn, as well good grub to munch on over at Eagle Plains restaurant.
This article was written by Pamela Chan.