Summer is the time for driving down the Dempster Highway (see map here) and camping along the way. The Dempster Highway is Canada’s only all-season public road to cross the Arctic Circle. Starting near Dawson City this 736 km unpaved two-lane highway traverses North Yukon all the way to Inuvik.
Susan Bryan reports on her trip in the last week of May 2008:
I spent a most enjoyable 2 weeks working as a locum anaesthetist in Inuvik. After the work period, my daughter and I rented a car and went on a one week camping and birding expedition down the Dempster Highway. The weather was great - warm enough to sleep in the tent, but still very few insects, and 24 hours of daylight. We managed to find an incredible 103 species of birds, many of them "lifers" as they are species found only in the western Arctic region. We also saw some interesting mammals including Grizzly Bear, Moose, Caribou, Dall's Sheep and Arctic Ground Squirrel.
One wildlife encounter was a little too close for comfort. After birding and driving all day we finally picked a secluded roadside spot to pitch our tent for the night. I was busy building the fire and preparing dinner while my daughter pitched the tent. Suddenly she looked up and not 10 meters away was a large Black Bear watching us at work. No doubt he was happy that dinner would soon be ready! We tried honking the car horn but he didn't budge. We got out the "Bear bangers" ready to fire in case he charged. We quickly threw the tent and all the food and dishes into the back of the car, jumped in and locked the doors. Phew!
From the safety of the car my daughter took a few photos as the disappointed bear ambled off into the bushes. We decided not to attempt camping again that night and drove for another three hours to reach Inuvik around midnight.
More pictures can be found here.