Northwest Territories: Destination Yellowknife

Day 28 Mileage 8596.4 travelled 232.9 kms today from gravel pit near Fort Nelson entering the Northwest Territories to Fort Liard free recreation campground. There is a fire ban in effect here so no fires tonight even though they have free firewood. Nice recreation site with 12 free campsites, so far only two RVs here, pit toilets, fire rings and tables alongside Hay Lake just outside of Liard. We filled up in Fort Liard today for $1.90/litre so one of the cheapest so far. Our NWT experience is just beginning to unfold, drove through construction on the gravel section after crossing into the NWT. The drive from Fort Nelson has been beautiful spotting lots of buffalo along the way. Highway to the NWT is fantastic, BC really does have good highways. Very relaxing drive after the Alaska Highway, met probably four other vehicles in the 200 kms and were passed by two gravel trucks. At Hay Lake there is a lot of ground clover and I have never seen so many bumble bees, the ground is alive with them…perhaps no crop spraying here.

Fort Liard is at the junction of the Liard and Petitot rivers and has a population of around 600. The area’s relatively warm climate earned it the nickname of “Tropics of the Territories”. The South Slavey Dene have resided here for many generations hosting traditional gatherings and passing down oral history. They traded with Euro-Canadians in the 18th century and later the Hudson’s Bay Company.

A long road ahead
A long road ahead as we leave BC, Fort Nelson on our way to Yellowknife, NWT.
Paved from Fort Nelson to Fort Laird on the BC side highway 7 was very rolling to say the least, but excellent condition.
Paved from Fort Nelson to Fort Liard on the BC side. Highway 7 was very rolling to say the least, but excellent condition.
Lunch stop
A lunch break and stretch in one of the many gravel pits just off the highway.
We found gravel pits not used as an excellent place to overnigh or simply take a break from driving.
We found gravel pits not used as an excellent place to over night or simply take a break from driving.
Our campground outside of Fort Laird right on the lake.
Our campground outside of Fort Liard right on the lake.
Hay Lake viewed from the back door of our truck camper at Fort Laird.
Hay Lake viewed from the back door of our truck camper at Fort Liard.
We really appreciate the effort local residents put into these campgrounds thare provided free of charge.
We really appreciate the effort local residents put into these campgrounds that are provided free of charge.

Day 29 Mileage 5,889.5 kms today we traveled 293.1 kms. We drove from Fort Liard on Highway 7 or the Liard Trail to the Junction of Highway 1 which was all gravel. We then took Highway 1, a paved highway to the ferry on the Liard River and crossed to Fort Simpson. It rained all night in Fort Liard and throughout the morning and the mosquitoes were terrible. We drove close to 90 kms on muddy roads then into sunshine for the rest of the day, temp around 20C. We will spend the night at Fort Simpson Territorial Campground. Very nicely kept with pit toilets and showers that were closed, there are only a few of us here tonight. Fort Simpson is known as the “Gateway to the Nahanni” since it is used for a lot of people as a starting point for trips to the mountains by boat or by plane. Fort Simpson is known by the Dene as Lidlii Kue (“place where they come together”). Fort Simpson has a population of 1202 residents a community first formed as Fort of the Forks, a Northwest Company fur trading site. In 1882, their rivals the Hudson’s Bay Company built a trading post here and was named after George Simpson, Governor of what was known then as Rupert’s Land. There is a lot more history to be found here for those interested or just enjoy the beauty of the wilderness. Extra note when we were checking out and paid for our campsite at Fort Simpson the camp host gave us a very nice NWT lantern and a collapsible pail and some very helpful information on the NWT which was very good of him. A reader and truck camper traveller who lives in Fort Simpson also was very helpful in providing some local information and I thank him for that. The community information centre also provided us with potable water for free. On the topic of water I bought the blue carbon filter to fill with and it has been a great investment as it removes taste of chlorinated water and purifies it somewhat.

It was now going to be gravel all the way to Highway 1, we were in no hurry and the drive was beautiful starting out rainy but drove into sunshine.
It was now going to be gravel all the way to Highway 1, we were in no hurry and the drive was beautiful starting out rainy but drove into sunshine.
Our first small herd of Bison along the way.
Our first small herd of Bison along the way.
These Bison are not intimidated by vehicles and will move when ready, so you wait.
These Bison are not intimidated by vehicles and will move when ready, so you wait.
Blackstone Territorial Park between Fort Laird and Fort Simpson.
Blackstone Territorial Park between Fort Liard and Fort Simpson. A beautiful well maintained and kept Park with showers and a beautiful view.
Obviously these chaps like the park as well.
Obviously these chaps like the park as well.
The Laird River with the Franklin Mountains in the back.
The Liard River with the Franklin Mountains in the back.
The view from the driver's seat.
The view from the driver’s seat.
Our ride across the mighty Laird River on the way to Fort Simpson.
Our ride awaits to cross the mighty Liard River on the way to Fort Simpson.
We would have to return on this ferry after visiting Fort Simpson.
We would have to return on this ferry after visiting Fort Simpson.
A lot of buildings reflecting the history of the area.
A lot of buildings like this one reflecting the history of the area.
The huge Laird River popular for northern canoe trippers.
The huge Liard River popular for northern canoe trippers.
Fort Simpson is a popular spot for those wishing to  gain acces to the Nahannie Butte area in the Franklin Mountains
Fort Simpson is a popular spot for those wishing to gain access to the Nahannie Butte area in the Franklin Mountains for backcountry canoeing and camping.
This beautiful structure reflects  the past and future of the local resident's heritage.
This beautiful structure reflects the past and future of the local resident’s pride in their heritage.

Day 30 Mileage 6,217.1 kms travelled 327.5 kms today from Fort Simpson to Fort Providence. We travelled Highway 1 on pavement to the Jean Marie River where it tuned into gravel until the junction of Highway 3 to Fort Providence. As per the course in our travels there was construction on 1 and on 3 the road was extremely rough on Highway 3 into Fort Providence and very dusty. On the way we stopped at Sambaa Deh Falls flowing through a deep rocky canyon. On the way we crossed the Deh Cho Bridge which is a 1.6 km-long cable stayed bridge across the Makenzie River that replaced the ferry. We will stay the night at the NWT Park here outside of Fort Providence right on the Majestic Mackenzie River cost $29.50 with power and shower facilities, time to charge up everything and shower. The campground was all pull through and all sites electric and very well kept with nice shower facilities and washrooms. I fueled up today here for $2.269/litre. Fort Providence has a population of 797 people and is situated 5 kms down an access road west of Highway 3. The community is located on the banks of the Mackenzie River. A major landmark in the community is the Roman Catholic Our Lady of Fort Providence church.

Along the highway to Fort Providence, we saw many little buildings in rest stops like this one. A wood fireplace was inside for those travelling in winter a place to warm up. Now in poor shape they are being replaced by modern outhouses (with no heaters).
Inside the NWT rest stops of the past featured warm up heaters like this one.
The rest stop is now home to this little fellow who was checking on who came to visit.
A short stop along the way to hike into this canyon of the Sambaa Deh Falls.
It was hard to capture the size and scope of this 1.6 km bridge.
Another attempt to capture the Deh Cho Bridge a cable strung bridge across the mighty Mackenzie River.
The long span cable bridge opened up the communities all season as before the only crossing was by ferry.

The mighty Mackenzie River still used to barge supplies to the Arctic Ocean and the communities along the way
A great campsite on the Mackenzie River outside of Fort Providence.
The view out our back door for the evening.
The view just kept getting better.
Proof the sun will set after approximately 20 hours of sunlight.
As dark as it gets in August.
First established churches are landmarks of the early missionaries during the fur trading days.
The before established Providence Mission.
This one appears to be still well used.
More to come on our journey.

That’s it for this post, hope the ride was not too rough but glad to have you along. Next post our journey to Yellowknife and the end of the road. Subscribe to be notified of new posts it shows your interest and any questions on travel will be answered best way is to email me at gerry@studiowest.ca

Have a great day and those still travelling may the wind be at your back….see you down the road….Gerry and Charlotte

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