We had a great time in Yellow Knife, with so many things to see and do. We would back-track to the Deh Cho Bridge, and then take the Deh Cho Route via Hwy 1 to the Liard Trail and meet the Alaska Highway just west of Fort Nelson. Hwy 1 is a dirt road, with sparse traffic. Cindy was a bit nervous, but Jim was ready to go. We were a bit late in leaving as it had rained all night and the canopy was very wet. It made it through the 63.3 miles of frost heaves, going 40-45 mph. There are numerous “houses” built on the rocks along side the road.
We came back through the Buffalo Sanctuary and saw 3 groups totaling about 25 buffalo.
There are three landscapes on the road to Yellow Knife…Rocks, short skinny pine trees, and very thick Quackie and pine tree forest. It takes almost 4 hours to drive from Yellow Knife to the Deh Cho Bridge, even though it is only about 185 miles.
The dirt road to the Fort Simpson turnoff was a very nice road. It had been recently grated, and we were able to drive 65 mph for most of the way. We did not see another vehicle until we reached the Samba Deh Falls Territorial Park. It was our understanding that there are actually 2 falls here, the Samba Deh and the Coral Falls, but with the water so low, there was only one long falls. Still very impressive.
With the low water levels, we were able to see the coral in the rocks.
Down the road from the falls, is a nice trail that leads to a platform for a nice view of the Trout River Gorge.
Along the road there are survival cabins for use in the winter months. We also saw pine grouse and a bear.
We arrived at the junction of the MacKenzie Hwy that goes north to Fort Simpson or south on the Liard Trail. We decided to go north to Fort Simpson.
We would have to take a free ferry across the Liard River.
We were the only vehicle on the ferry and we thought we couldn’t get out of the vehicle, which we later learned we misunderstood. The Liard River is a fairly swift river, and the ferry has to swing against the current to “dock” on the dirt ramp. The captain is very good at his job.
We arrived in Fort Simpson and found a spot at the territorial park. We got our camp site set-up and went exploring. The claim to fame of Fort Simpson is a papal area where Saint John Paul II spoke to 5000 people in 1984.
Fort Simpson sits near the confluences of the Liard River and the MacKenzie River, which comes out of Great Slave Lake. It is very wide at this point, but still has about 400 miles to the ocean.
We ran into the Fort Simpson policeman who was on patrol. He told us that we could go up to the dump and watch the bears…lol. He also told us about muster stations in each town. These are in case of wildfires, so that citizens have a place to gather.
The next morning it was extremely foggy. We had thought about driving up to Wrigley, but would have to take another ferry and they don’t run that particular ferry in fog. However, the fog was gorgeous in the trees.
The only thing we didn’t like about this campground is they closed the bathrooms at 9:00pm. Rufus, the campground host was supposed to come and pickup the $20.00 fee, so we left it in the comment box with a note.
We headed back towards the ferry. Being a Saturday morning, there were vehicles already in line. On this ferry ride, we realized all the things you could do during the 8-9 minute trip…put air in your tires, wash your windows, chat with other passengers. The ferry only runs in the summer when the water is high enough. In winter, when the river freezes over it becomes an ice road. Usually, Fort Simpson has no transportation in March and April due to the ice breaking up and October and November due to low water levels and no ice to drive on.
At the turn-off to the Liard Trail/Hwy 7, we were the only ones who went straight. We were on our own again.
It was endless miles of road, bridges, and trees. Driving over a grated bridge is such a cool sound.
We stopped at Blackrock Territorial Park. By far the prettiest park, with an awesome view of Nahanni Butte. Talked to the camp host who is originally from California. The NWT definitely does a good job at providing camping.
We stopped for lunch at a roadside turnout and Jim just had to try the water pump. We had been seeing them at several spots.
After lunch we had a strange noise. Jim rode on the tailgate and we figured out that we had a rock stuck in the tire assembly. We stopped and it must have fallen out, because we didn’t hear it again. Continued onto Fort Liard, where we stopped for gas. You really have to plan your gas stops as they are few and far between. We stopped at the border to take our last picture in the NWT and our first in British Columbia. The road was now paved!!!
We stopped and took pictures on the Petiot River Bridge. It was the official site of the Liard Trail opening on June 23, 1984. Before that it was a winter road only.
We had been pretty excited because this road had the world’s longest Acrow bridge at 1410 feet. This is a steel panel bridge, connected with pins for fast construction. Unfortunately, a new bridge just opened and they are disassembling the old bridge. But to make us feel better we saw a bear a short distance from the bridge.
We finally arrived at the junction of the Liard Trail and the Alaska Highway. We made it through one of the more remote sections of our trip. The pickup passed 104,000 miles and we have travelled 2890 in our first week of our road trip.
After 10 miles on the Alaska Hwy we hit an 8% grade. What the NWT has in flat, BC has in mountains. They also like graffiti.
We stayed the night at the Tetsa River Provincial campground. Being the long week-end, we felt lucky to find a spot. We set-up our camp, had mac-n-cheese for dinner, and got some good advice from our camp neighbors as to tomorrow’s adventures…