• Thursday , 14 December 2017
Arctic Ocean 2009

Arctic Ocean 2009


Ride from Seattle to the Arctic Ocean (Dempster Highway) using as many dirt roads as possible and put our feet in the Arctic Ocean.


On this trip we used our own motorcycles starting from our home. As is the case with most of our trips, time was more of a limiting factor than money. We had 22 days to complete a total of 5,184 miles of which 1,500 where on dirt. We also like to travel slow, never feel rushed, and our bikes (KLR 650 and XT 225) are not comfortable for long hauls of over 300 miles in a day. Because time was short we decided to ride the Alaska Ferry from Bellingham, WA to Skagway, AK thereby going 1,180 nautical miles in 3 days, which would have taken us at least 7 days riding. By doing this the riding portion of our trip started in the sweet spot and we were into Yukon Territory, Canada the first day off the boat. We found valuable information for our route including camping, roads, fuel, and lodging from the Milepost Magazine. The reason we chose the Dempster Highway over the Dalton Highway was internet research taught us that there is much less heaving truck traffic on the Dempster, more camping, and you can reach the Arctic Ocean (we wanted to put our feet in it).


Special Highlights

  • Alaska Ferry ride through the inside passage of Canada.
  • A 3-hour tour including a short propeller plane flight from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk in Northwest Territories, Canada – the true end of the road. If visiting in the summer the flight is mandatory as this is an ice road in the winter and no road in the summer. This trip was worth the additional cost.
  • The Campbell Highway in the Yukon, Canada. This is an approximately 325 mile long dirt road with one town and little traffic (we saw only 2 or 3 cars each day).
  • The Stewart-Cassiar Highway in British Columbia had stunning scenery, good roads, and really good campgrounds.

Lessons Learned

  • We took a 3-day off-road motorcycle class using our own motorcycles in preparation for this trip and it was worth every penny. The class was with Puget Sound Safety Off Road in Washington State.
  • The Dempster Highway is a real mix of road conditions including gravel, clay, dirt, stone, and calcium chloride. We were glad to have small bikes and fairly aggressive off-road knobby tires.

Trip Cost

Of our motorcycle trips this was the most expensive with a grand total of $6,500 for three weeks. But, when you break that down for two people for three weeks that isn’t too bad. The two cost drivers were the Arctic Ocean tour ($630) and the Alaska Ferry ($2,075). We splurged on the ferry by having a private cabin with window. The cost would have been much less had we camped on deck and just paid the motorcycle and walk on fees. Our costs broke down as follows:

  • Ferry and Arctic Ocean flight tour: $2,705
  • Food: $1,300
  • Fuel: $1,000
  • Lodging: $1,200
  • Misc./shopping: $300

This trip could be accomplished on a lower budget fairly easily by doing more camping and self-catering. We were not trying to fit into a specific budget.

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