You’ll either start the trip in Alberta and head northwest on Highway 1; by the time you reach the junction with Highway 3 (to Enterprise), the pavement runs out and the road turns to chipseal for a while (100-200 kilometres), then gravel. Welcome to the world of adventure riding!
You might want to think about crossing the Mackenzie into Enterprise for gas, accommodations or food – all three are hard to come by in the Northwest Territories, and you should plan ahead. It’d be a good idea to pack camping gear, but make sure you bear-proof your site, if you decide to sleep in the great outdoors.
Otherwise, the first stop in the Deh Cho Discovery Route will most likely be Saamba Deh Falls Territorial Park. If you packed your hikers, you can go to Coral Falls here, or just enjoy Saamba Deh Falls from the road. Keep on riding and you’ll eventually come to the turn-off for Jean Marie River, where you can pick up some locally made crafts. You can get gas here, but you’ll have to call Lucy at 867-809-2031. No, we’re not kidding. That’s how things are in the north.
Eventually, you’ll reach a junction with Highway 7; keep on heading north to Fort Simpson on Highway 1. There are three gas stations here and one campground, and you might be able to get cell service for a call home. Don’t expect to get cell reception outside the communities en route, though.
Fort Simpson is one of the main entry points if you want to get into Nahanni National Park Reserve. You can hike in, but most people enter by plane or helicopter. The park is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and has evidence of civilization going back thousands of years, with more recent exciting history during the Klondike Gold Rush, with legends of lost gold mines. It’s not exactly something you can go ride around on your KLR650, but if you’ve got the time and money, it’s a fascinating place.
From Fort Simpson you can travel north to Wrigley. There’s three campgrounds, meaning you can stick around and enjoy the scenery of the mountains of the Mackenzie River Valley a little longer. There’s roadwork here pushing further north, but for now, this is pretty much the end of the line. Don’t forget to gas up before you leave town.
Passing through Fort Simpson, you can head back east the way you came, or head south on Highway 7. You can visit the community of Nahanni B utte, another community that offers entrance to Nahanni National Park Reserve, but you’ll have to call the Nahanni Butte Band Office (867-602-2900 ) for a water taxi pickup. We called, and they told us they can probably pick up a motorcycle and ferry it across the river to their community, but you’d best schedule it a couple days in advance.
Leaving Nahanni Butte, you can again decide to head south on Highway 7, or back east to Alberta. Heading south will take you through Fort Liard. There’s gas here, and a campground as well. From here on, it’s a short stretch south to the BC border, pressing on to points like Fort St. John, or you can head back east the way you came – it’s your choice.
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