|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 south.
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
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!