There is a gravel road that connects Yellowknife to the Alcan Hwy. It’s called the MacKenzie Highway. Canadians have this odd ability to name one-lane gravel paths in the forest a “highway,” even though they are hardly a trail. Given a decent rain, these “highways” are no more traversible than a bog. But hey, who am I to judge.
By taking the MacKenzie shortcut, it allows us to save two days of driving to the south. The problem is, the 720-kilometer drive is rather nerve-racking. Take a look of the condition of the road when we started:
Thankfully, it about half bad and half good. When we weren’t avoiding roaming bison and moose, we were finding the optimal path in the washboard gravel and dirt so that the van didn’t rattle to pieces.
Taking the MacKenzie can be a major risk, not just if it were to rain, but also if you need to buy fuel. Thankfully the Veggie Van runs on grease and we can always bring our fuel with us, but for the conventional truck, they need to schedule their drives carefully. The only fuel is at Fort Simpson, and that town is on the other side of a ferry. And that ferry is only open a few hours of the day.
So don’t leave at an odd time. You might end up bear food.
After a few hundred kilometers, the MacKenzie changes into the Laird Highway, not that it really matters. It’s still a dilapidated gravel road in the tundra and there is no other place to turn off. It’s not like there were a lot of options. Either keep driving the Laird Hwy to the Alcan junction, or turn back to Yellowknife.