My Fiance and I will be moving to Yellowknife for 9 months for work. To save money, we want to drive my car from Toronto to Yellowknife verses buying a cheap car once we have moved.

Unlike my fiance who is from South Africa, I am a pretty experienced "winter driver" but still have some concerns about the weather conditions in mid-January.

Has anyone taken on this type of drive during one of the harshest winter months? Our move will take us about 4 days and I want to make sure I am not causing more frustration or risk to our safety when driving north during this time of year.

Any help is appreciated!!


  • What happens if you get to Edmonton and find the forecast for the next couple of days is severe weather along the route? Do you have the resources to stay put for a bit or will you be under pressure to get there on a specific date? – BowlOfRed Aug 20 '18 at 22:18
  • What's your actual question, here? "Has anyone done this?" is just an opinion poll: what do you hope to learn from people saying, "Yeah, I've done that." – David Richerby Aug 20 '18 at 22:54
  • 1
    I really don't find this question to be ambiguous. In essence it's this: what do we need to consider to drive it in the winter? See my response for the answer. And BowlOfRed's comment about the ability to hold in place to await better weather is a fair point, too. – Jim MacKenzie Aug 21 '18 at 0:44

Perhaps 2019?

I've not yet driven this route but I have done some research on it because it's a trip I'm planning. Google Maps Street View has excellent views of the entire route, so you can check for yourself what you're facing.

The road is paved throughout its route, and with the opening of the Deh Cho Bridge over the Mackenzie River, the route can be driven all year long now (previously, a ferry and ice road were used, and there was a gap in accessibility in the spring when the ice road was too dangerous but the ferry could not yet run).

Note that there isn't solid mobile phone coverage on the route. It runs out in extreme northern Alberta and does come back with two or three cell sites of coverage along the NWT route. You may want a satellite phone. I imagine other drivers are pretty courteous about helping stranded drivers there, though. For the land-based cellular/mobile service, note that not all foreign providers may roam with the carriers in northern Canada, so check with your provider (wise even if you're Canadian) to see if your phone will work there.

As a ham radio operator I wondered if radio repeater coverage covered the entire route, but it too has gaps. There is coverage more or less from near Rae-Edzo up to Yellowknife and beyond. An amateur radio license will be required to use this service.

Note that in January, day length will be very short (you may only get five or so hours of daylight) and temperatures as low as -50 C and beyond are possible (-35 to -45 in January would not be at all uncommon there). Make sure your vehicle is in tip-top mechanical shape, and make sure you have an adequate emergency kit consisting at least of warm blankets, some high-calorie food, candles (for both light and more importantly, for warmth), water, flares (to summon help) and warning cones or triangles (in case you need to change a tire on the road).

There are few communities on the route once you get into far northern Alberta, so significant distances will separate you from communities at times. Plan accordingly.

Make sure someone knows your route and schedule, so that if you don't arrive on time, they will know to send help.

Best of luck and safe travels.

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