"Mackenzie Highway" Northwest Territories by jorgejuansanchez

Northwest Territories Travel Guide: 154 reviews and 391 photos

My certificate to demonstrate I was in NWT

After having made the Trans Alaska highway from Dawson Creek to Whitehorse, in Yukon, overland, now I had another challenge full of interest for the traveller: the Trans Mackenzie Highway.
I arrived during the night to pleasant Peace River, Alberta, and the next day was Sunday (very bad day for hitch hikers), so I resolved to spend the full day there. I assisted to the Sunday Catholic Mass (when I am abroad I go to the Church much often that when I am at home), I visited the nice town, and Monday, very early in the morning, I got a ride to nearby Grimshaw, the Kilometre Zero (or Mille Zero) of the Trans Mackenzie Highway, according to a monument and a plaque on the road.

Then I started to hitch hike northwards.
The good thing to hitch hike in large and under populated countries, such as Australia or Canada, is that when you get a ride, the driver takes you hundreds of kilometres.
And that is what happened to me that day. I got the first lift to Hay River, by the Great Slave Lake, having crossed the Parallel 60, and spent a couple of hours visiting that town.
In fact I got the ride to Enterprise, the junction to continue to the river Mackenzie and cross the river, but I wanted to know Hay River city and the driver dropped me there, by the lake.

Afterwards I headed back to Enterprise to continue northwards until Yellowknife. I saw buffaloes on the road.

From May to October operates that ferry, Out of that period you have to fly to Yellowknife.

I crossed the Mackenzie River with a ferry, for free. That ferry operates from May to October. Out of that period, you have to fly to Yellowknife.

It was already dark when I reached Yellowknife, the diamonds capital, as it is known. I asked a beggar for the Salvation Army since it was cold to sleep in a park and I was too short of money and could afford to pay for a room in a hotel, which are very expensive in Canada. Finally I found it in the main street, I knocked and the nice guardian let me go in. I had a hot shower and around midnight I slept over a mattress, on the floor.
It had been a long day of travel from Peace River, with a lot of impressions.

The new part of Yellowknife is not interesting at all; you have to continue walking until the lake, where I saw houses in small islets.
In the Tourist Information Office, where they issued me a certificate stating that I crossed the Parallel 60 (called: ORDER OF ARCTIC ADVENTURERS, NORTH OF 60º CHAPTER), I met an Irish traveller that had been in all the countries of the world according to the United Nations (194), but he did not like to appear in clubs such as Virtual Tourist, MTP or TCC, not even in my own TEC (Traveller’s Exploits Club). Nevertheless he is one of the best travellers that I have met in my life. I have known Japanese travellers too, that would be among the first ten in MTP, but they do not want their name to be shown publicly. It is a pity but I respect their decision.

I walked to the Salvation Amy where I had for dinner delicious peanuts buttered sandwiches and a cup of hot chocolate, for free.

Where to travel next? I did not have much money, but I wanted to visit Baffin Island, the sixth greater island in the world after Australia, Greenland, New Guinea, Borneo, and Madagascar. I had been in the first five, so I must go to the sixth one, I said to myself.
But I had to fly, the only way to get there from Yellowknife.
In Canada the prices of the airlines tickets depend on the date that you want to fly, so I was offered the cheapest ticket for 900 Canadian Dollars, a fortune for me, but I had to go, it would be unpardonable to leave Canada without visiting Baffin island, so finally I paid the 900 Canadian Dollars and after three days I flew, first to Inlet Rankin Inlet, and after a few hours to Iqaluit, in Baffin island, Nunavut (please see my Nunavut chapter if you want to follow my journey around North America in 80 days).

Ferry to cross the Mackenzie River

Local Inuits and Dene do not like the name Mackenzie. They say that centuries before Mackenzie arrived to Canada, they already know about the existence of that river.
They are right, the name Mackenzie should be changed by the Dene name Deh Cho, which means Great River.

I read that Wild Cat café was a “must” for any tourists in Yellowknife, I walked down there, besides a hilly rock, in the historical part of Yellowknife, by the lake. It was built in 1937 and in those times they offered meals for 1 dollar and they served caribou meat and lake trout.
Now it has become a famous restaurant. I looked at the menu and I thought: “perhaps I can eat a dish of caribou for about 5 or 6 Canadian dollars, an amount that I can afford”.
But when I saw the prices I was disappointed: all the dishes started with two figures, even the appetizers, so I left without even ordering a tea.

I start in the Mille Zero

Everything starts here, near Peace River, in Grimshaw.

“ DEH CHO Travel Connection” is a round journey starting in any place along that route, which includes cities such as Dawson Creek, Grimshaw, Fort Nelson or Enterprise, traversing fragments of British Columbia, Northwest Territories and Alberta (Yellowknife is not included in the DEH CHO Travel Connection), totalling 1800 kilometres.
In the tourist information offices of any town along that travel connection they will give you a booklet where you receive a stamp in every place that you visit, and if you make the round journey and show at least five stamps of the DEH CHO Travel Connection, then you get a diploma (I was given that booklet, but did not fulfil it with five stamps, but only three).

  • Last visit to Northwest Territories: Jun 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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