Opinion: Two new road trips

We’re thinking about road trips here at Canada Moto Guide, and the best places to visit with a motorcycle. Jacob just discovered some of the best riding roads in the world – or so he says – but I’m not so ambitious: a half-dozen weekends away and a couple of different weeks in the saddle are all the two-wheeled vacation I need.

I’ve been trying to persuade my wife that she’d love to take a week to circle Lake Superior. From Toronto, it’s roughly a 3,300 km ride, looping along the gorgeous Trans-Canada Highway north of Lake Superior, which was built especially to attract American tourists, then back through the northern woods of Minnesota and Michigan.

The other ride I’m thinking of with her is out to Gaspé, through Montreal to circle the peninsula at Percé Rock, and then back through northern New England with a detour to the top of Mount Washington. It’s about the same distance and has the added appeal of grappling with French and climbing to the highest point on the eastern seaboard. Keep following CMG and you’ll find out soon enough which trip won the toss. Or maybe both.

The road along the north shore of the Gaspe Peninsula is just glorious.

This year though, if you’re feeling adventurous, there are a couple of new destinations for Canadian road trips that literally did not exist last season, but they’re about as far-flung as they can be.

The first is the new road to Tuktoyaktuk, which is a 137-kilometre two-lane dirt road north from Inuvik that provides the very first opportunity for the general public to drive to the Arctic Ocean when it’s not frozen over. Until now, riders and drivers have only been able to reach Inuvik, some 800 kilometres north of Dawson City on the Dempster Highway, and that’s an achievement in itself, but Inuvik is on the Mackenzie River delta, not the ocean. There was a winter road on the ice, but last year was its final season. In Alaska, the only road to the ocean stops a few kilometres short – Prudhoe Bay is a company town, and you can’t enter except on business.

Not too scenic perhaps, but the road to Tuk takes you – finally – all the way to the Arctic Ocean.

Now, after four years and $300 million of construction on the fragile permafrost, there’s a road to Tuk. It was supposed to be a highway that supports oil and gas exploration, but the Trudeau government suspended that and so, for now, it’s a tourist route for those hardy RVers and ADVers. The hamlet of 900 people is expecting 5,000 to 10,000 visitors this season, and since there are only a few bed and breakfasts, you’ll be wise to bring a tent.

One of the new ferries that will take visitors to St-Pierre and Miquelon, once they sort out the Newfoundland port.

The other destination is France. Yes, ride to France. There’s a new ferry service between Fortune, Newfoundland, and St-Pierre and Miquelon, and for the first time, it can carry vehicles. The small islands off the foggy south shore of Newfoundland are proudly French territory, and until now, you could either fly in or ferry in, but you couldn’t bring your own vehicle. The two new ferries have room for 200 passengers, three tractor-trailers and 15 cars on the hour-long crossing – there’s no mention of how many bikes can be strapped in, but there’s 150 kilometres of French paved and unpaved roads to be explored once you get there.

At least – there’s supposed to be a new ferry service.  The CBC reported on Monday that the port town of Fortune still needs its dock to be upgraded in order to accommodate the ferry. It will cost $3.5 million to do so, and it’s still $1 million short. However, considering St-Pierre and Miquelon have already invested more than $50 million in the two new ferries, I’m sure somebody will come up with the money soon.

If you visit St-Pierre this summer, hopefully the snow will have melted.

Our world is getting smaller, although the adventure bikes for exploring it seem to be getting bigger, as Zac showed in his Showroom Showdown last week. Will you be first on two wheels to reach the unfrozen Arctic Ocean, or France? If you are, or even if you’re just close, let us know,

2 thoughts on “Opinion: Two new road trips”

  1. I was talking to my son about riding to France a little while ago. We have a regular run down on the Burin Peninsula close to Fortune, while the road is a royal pain in the a$$ in my Peterbilt, the scenery is gorgeous. Even if the ferry service isn’t up and running, anybody who comes to island for a visit, I highly recommend a diversion and ride “The Boot” as its often called.

  2. I circled lake Superior a few years ago. I had great expectation for the south and less for the Canadian part. Turned out to be the opposite. Americans call their part the north shore… Refering to the country more than to the lake. It says it all. I mean some section are ok but it’s a really big lake and just a few sections runs along the shore. The Transcanada, on the real north shore, is really fun on a bike!
    Gaspésie is a better choice I think. More often by the water, the sea I should say because the gulf is so big. From Montreal, taking the 132 all the way is nice, longer but really nice. Just have to jump over Lévis to avoid traffic lights. If your not coming back by Maine, it’s better to do the back and forth via the north shore. South shore of the Gaspésie is not as spectacular. If you really want to circle it than start there and finish with the north. Don’t miss the Café des Artistes in Gaspé, best espresso of the peninsula, it’s right by the bridge.
    Last words… About the Dempster. There’s a very nice campground 70 km from the paved road, Tombstone park. From there, you can try the Arctic Circle sign, about 375 km, one way. You don’t want to be there if it rains, some parts of the road are like clay. On other parts, you have to watch for rocks that could puncture you tires. those sharp rocks that are buried in the road. When I did it, I saw a few cars with flat tires. It’s not a road for all motorcycles and motorcyclists. If you take a break by the side of the road, passing cars and trucks will slow down and wait for your tumbs up before continuing. It’s that remote;-)

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