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Calgary->Yellowknife

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Los Angeles...
posts: 9
Calgary->Yellowknife

Hi all. I was recently brainwashed by a couple of learned people that Yellowknife would be a perfect place for a celestial event and having read all the reviews about the town, I'm itching to go there. Details of the intended trip:

Dates: June 4th to 7th

1 person probably (me driving all the way; 26yrs old male)

Hertz or Enterprise rental car (mid to full size)

Any tips on road conditions, closures, gas stations etc would obviously help. Can I do this in 1 day; assuming I leave at 4am from Calgary and take a couple of fuel/rest stops for an hour given that sunset would be pretty late in the "night". I've read quite a bit about the drive but still, anything more would help. Thanks!

Edmonton, Canada
Destination Expert
for Edmonton, Yellowknife
posts: 1,200
reviews: 31
1. Re: Calgary->Yellowknife

It will be about a 19 hour drive, I would strongly suggest to take a rest, if you are a camper, I remember there is a nice campsite by Alexandra falls. It's called Twin falls. I think the ferry crossing has specific hours, so you may have to take a rest somewhere.

As for celestial events, what specifically are you hoping to see? In June, there is 24 hour daylight, so hoping that what you want to see can be seen in light skies. The sun does dip below the horizon briefly before it rises, but it won't get dark.

The road used to be quite twisty, but they straightened it a few year ago, and in 2005, I almost got bored, it was that straight. Tons of bison on the road and they do not move, so could be slow going after Providence.

Yellowknife, Canada
posts: 8
2. Re: Calgary->Yellowknife

I dont recommend you do the drive in one day. I also decided to drive from Yellowknife to Edmonton in one day, and if you are alone it is not worth it. The road is very straight, flat, and boring for the most part, and it makes it very difficult to drive for 19 hours. There are a lot of Bison in the last stretch from Fort Providence so being alert is recommended.

Youll find road and ferry conditions/operating hours for hwy 3 here: …gov.nt.ca/_live/…roadConditions.aspx

Fuel up in Fort Providence for sure, and its never a bad idea to bring a Jerry can along as well just in case.

Los Angeles...
posts: 9
3. Re: Calgary->Yellowknife

Thanks for the reply, Suzanne & Brennan. I don't think, oh how I wish I could, that I'll be able to pull a non-rest stop drive. I'll have to rent a car at 7am from Calgary and will only leave the city by 8:30ish. By nominal driving calculations, it might be a hit/miss with the ferry crossing. I might have to stop for the night in Ft.Providence or Enterprise or very close to the ferry crossing; leaving me with an early morning 3-ish hour stint to YK. Rooms in any of those locations are either expensive (for a 5-6hr sleep) or unavailable, so I plan to park somewhere and sleep in the car. I could just shower once I reach my room in YK. I won't be stinking that bad! :D My choke point is, therefore, the ferry crossing. What are it's hours of operation anyway? [6am-11pm]?

Where do you guys suggest I do that? Apart from driving fatigue, I should be able to drive quite late into the night with the amount of sunlight available.

Suzanne: The celestial event is a very rare transit of Venus across the face of the Sun. Having the sun in the background is essential for the spectacle and since YK, right now, has one of the max. hours of sunlight, it's become the mecca for most avid enthusiasts.

Brennan: I'll keep in mind about the jerry-can. I'll try and fuel up wherever I can!

Any of you know where I can get a road map for this trip? I have a Garmin GPS but a backup would be awesome.

Edited: 8:30 pm, May 31, 2012
Edmonton, Canada
Destination Expert
for Edmonton, Yellowknife
posts: 1,200
reviews: 31
4. Re: Calgary->Yellowknife

Is there anyway that you can add on an extra 2 or more days? Right now, you are looking at getting there on June 5th, leaving the next day to get back to Calgary on June 7th.

What I would suggest, is take a rest in Peace River, rooms are affordable. Or sleep in your car there.

It's about an 8 - 9 hour drive from Calgary, which might make the drive a bit easier. If you leave Calgary, take Highway 2. Bypass Edmonton and take Highway 43 to Peace River, that will get you into Peace River around 5 - 6. Lots of time to stretch. Lots of time to relax, or try the extra few hours and overnight in High Level.

The ferry opens at 6, and closes at 11 or midnight. Once you cross the river, you are on the homestretch and it does seem to go quicker. But the road is straight, and level, so boring. Except for the bison.

Gas stops:

Calgary

Whitecourt

Peace River

High Level

Fort Providence

Rae (1km off the road)

Yellowknife

You could see if you can order a map here:

www.spectacularnwt.com/nwtt/order-guides…

Really, once you get onto highway 43, it's hard to get lost or get off track. There is only one road to YK. I remember one year, a prisoner escaped there and they blocked the one road, and the airport and caught the guy in 20 mins. Back then they also used to keep the prison gates open, no one even wanted to try to escape.

Best of luck!! I am a born and raised YKer, so am always excited to help people head up to my hometown.

Yellowknife, Canada
posts: 8
5. Re: Calgary->Yellowknife

The ferry times are posted on the link for road conditions above "Ferry service at Fort Providence is operating normal hours from 6:00 a.m. to midnight daily. Caution should be used on landings and approaches as they are slippery and soft."

Usually when I make the drive I just print off the routing from google maps, there are a lot of signs so just as long as you know all the cities you will be passing through on the way, its pretty easy to navigate. Other than that im not too sure where you could get a map from.

High Level or enterprise would make a good rest stop. but if you are planning on sleeping in your car I guess you can make the decision based on fatigue as your going. You will be able to grab some food in both of these places. But if you decide to continue on to Fort Providence and rest there, you will be stuck on the side of the river that has nothing, and will have to deal with a lot of bugs.

I recommend you check out Alexandra Falls on your way up, its right off the highway and wont add much time to your trip at all. And it will offer you a good chance to get some fresh air and stretch your legs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandra_Falls

Los Angeles...
posts: 9
6. Re: Calgary->Yellowknife

Thanks again guys for the replies.

Suzanne, I really (highly unfortunate) can't add more days to this trip. I might be able to return on Friday instead of Thursday but I'm going back home (Los Angeles) on Saturday :) Based on how much I can do in one tank, I'll try and stop at all/most of the fuel stops you mentioned. Looks like Hertz will give me a Lancer. Given the distances, I need to drive to the max to try and make it to the ferry before it closes. Obviously, that doesn't mean I'll drive recklessly but just that I need to minimize rest stops etc. What's the speed limit anyway? In other words, GMaps says Calgary->Ferry is 18hrs & Ferry->YK is 6hrs. Does it really take that long?

Also, it's also an almost given that I'll spend the night (or catch a few winks) in the car; I've done that before and as long as it's safe (wildlife), I really don't mind doing that. So, I'll take the Mckenzie hwy from Edmonton to Ferry and then Hwy 43 to YK? GMaps' directions are kinda messy with a bunch of hwy numbers and stuff. Confusing to see so many [embarrassingly, I'm only 25! and I'm good with directions and stuff] I'll probably turn on my GPS and see what it says.

Edmonton, Canada
Destination Expert
for Edmonton, Yellowknife
posts: 1,200
reviews: 31
7. Re: Calgary->Yellowknife

My dad used to drive that road all the time, he did it in 16 hours all by himself, but he was so used to the road, knew every twist, and there is one stretch that scares him, but he never had any problems. I think the limit would be the same as other highways. I know highway 2 is 110, however most cars cruise along at 120 - 140.

You'll be safe, there are a few places to stop, like Alexandra Falls, and North Arm.

Trust me though, you cannot get lost, or take a wrong turn past Peace River

highway 2 to Edmonton,

Just before Edmonton, Anthony Henday west to Yellowhead or Highway 16.

North on Highway 43, stay on that road, it will get you up there.

Los Angeles...
posts: 9
8. Re: Calgary->Yellowknife

:) Thanks a bunch for your help to both of you! I'll make sure to update this as I go along (maybe 60th parallel's wifi) and once I reach YK. I'm just downloading some entertainment for the drive.

Edmonton, Canada
Destination Expert
for Edmonton, Yellowknife
posts: 1,200
reviews: 31
9. Re: Calgary->Yellowknife

Should take a picture in front of the NWT sign, everyone who stops there does. Definitely post a trip update! I'm so excited for you, not too many people venture up, too isolated and too far. But i can guarantee you that it's a trip you'll never forget.

Los Angeles...
posts: 9
10. Re: Calgary->Yellowknife

My GPS shows:

Hwy-2 to Edmonton

Hwy-216 around Edmonton (presumably it's by-passing the city)

Hwy-16W to Jasper

Hwy-43N to Whitecourt

Left on 49 (don't know what this is)

A u-turn to right on 35

Then it says "Keep right to 3" (Hwy-3 McKenzie Hwy I guess)

Then the ferry

Leave ferry to 4 via 3

And then to YK.

Sound good to you? :) Also, why the U-turn? But overall, I think it's similar to what you mentioned in your earlier reply. I think I'm good to go now.

I read about the fire raging on south of Behchoko. You think that might cause some worry? No road blocks yet.