|The North Road is 406 km (254 miles) long, and it is unpaved for
its entire length.
There is only one gas
station for the entire length of 406km, at Km 300. There are no
other facilities whatsoever for the entire length of the road.
Scenery: Generally the scenery is fairly level (some
people will say it's downright boring). For most of the length it
runs through forest and taiga: spruce and jack pine forest, bogs,
rocks, and low hills. This is about all you'll see apart from birds
and some wildlife, and the occasional cabin a short distance off the
road. Make sure you stop and view the spectacular rapids of the
Rupert River, at km 238.
The road is open year-round, however it gets VERY cold up here in
the winter, so if you go in the winter, or even the fall or spring,
be prepared for the cold. Carry a warm sleeping bag in your vehicle
in case you break down. In the summer it can get just as hot as down
There are scary stories of people blowing all four tires along
this road, and having to have new tires flown in. However, having
driven the entire length of the road and back in an ordinary
automobile and having no problems whatsoever, I offer the following
tips to prevent flat tires and blowouts:
- Watch out for the larger stones that litter parts of the
road. It's these that will blow your tires if you hit them at a
high enough speed.
- Observe the speed limit. This will enable you to better
watch for and avoid these larger stones.
- In particular watch out for the sharper stones.
- Where the road is rougher, slow down. Where the road surface is really
smooth, you could get away with going faster, but you should still be on the
lookout for the rogue larger stone in the road.
- Ensure your vehicle is equipped with relatively new tires,
that still have lots of tread left on them.
- Don't overload your vehicle. A heavy vehicle or one that is
overloaded will be more likely to experience blowouts.
- Please keep in mind that many modern SUVs are not designed
for rough road conditions - they're designed for where they are
used 99% of the time: paved city streets and highways.
There are regular picnic and rest areas to stop and take a
break. There is only one campground. You may instead to choose to
camp in old gravel pits, which are plentiful and usually not all
that ugly. Cell phones do not work here except at km
106 & other "top of the hill" locations.
Although this is a modern gravel road, it is nevertheless a very
remote road with little traffic. Please read the cautions below
before traveling on this road.
Logging trucks: These trucks can be
very dangerous! And when one of these huge trucks passes
you, NEVER NEVER STOP your vehicle on the side of the road
to wait for the dust to settle down. Keep going slow
instead. Another of these trucks might be somewhere behind
you ... At least one person got killed by this situation
Other traffic: Of the road is dry, expect a complete
whiteout after a truck passes you. Slow down and pull to the right as far as you
can safely go. This will help preserve your front windshield, as well as keep
you out of the way if the oncoming driver does not pull over to their side of
the road far enough. Generally speaking, the truckers tend to be very
considerate of the other vehicles on the road. It's the occasional passenger
vehicle and pickup truck being driven by a maniac that are the problem. Watch
for graders that are continually working on the road.
Flat tires: The North Road is "a tire
eater road"! If you drive something heavy like an SUV or a full-size pick-up
truck, it is a must to have 6 ply tires. In summer, the road surface temperature
can be quite high. This high temperature can literally chew up and destroy your
tires. In about 75% of the cases of flat tires along here, the tire is not any
good afterwards. If you have a flat tire on this road and there are logging
trucks traveling up and down, try as much as possible to stop your vehicle for
repairs on one of the numerous small side road entrances, out of the way, your
tire is possibly kaput anyway. One person got injured in the summer of 2000 when
a truck drove by while he was changing his flat tire. He was hit on the ribs by
a ball sized rock that came from underneath the truck!