Canada & Alaska

Michele & Stephen's trip in 2013

The Canol Road

Somebody recommended we take the Canol Road from Johnson's Crossing to Ross River, so we did.

The Canol Road (Canadian Oil Road) was built between 1942 and 1944 to help bring oil from Norman Wells in Northwest Territories to Whitehorse as part of the war effort to defend Alaska from a potential Japanese invasion.

The project was abandoned a few years later.

The road is now minimally maintained for use in summer only. It is not suitable for large RVs nor for vehicles with low ground clearance, there are no services between Johnson's Crossing and Ross River.

Recommended! A fun road to drive and great scenery.

The road starts well, but does get quite steep and narrow around Lapie Pass.

We saw only two other tourists during the two days we took over the southern half of the road (220km).

We camped in a pull-off beside Quiet Lake, with a good view of the forest fires burning on the far side of the lake.

There are two Provincial Park Campgrounds near Quiet Lake. We inspected the southern one but decided the pull-off was preferable. In the morning however we looked round the northern campground and almost regretted not having stayed there.

In places the road becomes narrow and could be quite difficult in wet conditions or if you met another vehicle on an awkward corner.

The one big drawback of the Canol Road, for us, was that we ended up having to drive 360km of the Robert Campbell Highway into Watson Lake. This gravel road was not attractive. With even a little rain it proved impossible for this fuel truck that had simply dug through the road surface and was unable to get any traction.

At first you think "why not back down the hill and try again?".

Only when you see his jack-knifed second trailer do you appreciate his problem.

Still only 250km from the nearest town and no phone signal!