Route de la Baie James


Driving the Trans-Taiga Road

This is an extremely remote road, leading 666 km east almost to Labrador, with no settlements or towns aside from Hydro Quebec's settlements for workers (these are private and are not open to the public - they will kick you out).

At the far end you will be 745 km from the nearest town! This is the farthest you can get from a town on a road anywhere in North America!

You should definitely travel this road only in a reliable vehicle with good tires. It is not a rough road; passenger vehicles can drive it, but it is gravel. Vehicle breakdowns here can be very costly. Flat tires can be a serious (and expensive) incident if your tires are damaged. You could be looking at having tires flown in on a non-scheduled flight - there are no convenient "tire stores" up here!

The speed limit for the first 395 km is 80 km/h. Past that point it is 70 km/h due to the narrower road surface. This road is unpaved for its entire length. Slow down and pull to the right when oncoming vehicles are approaching. Many drivers are considerate enough to do likewise. But there is the occasional idiot who will not. In this case, slowing down almost to a stop and pulling off to the far right will help to preserve your windshield. Be careful to avoid the temptation of hugging the inside of curves when the inside of the curve is not on your side. Conversely, watch out for others coming at you around curves on the wrong side of the road. Some drivers take a chance that there's no one coming as they go around curves, because there's so little traffic on this road.

There are scary stories of people blowing all four tires along this road, and having to have new tires flown in on an unscheduled flight to one of the airstrips (VERY expensive!). However, having driven the entire length of the road and back in an ordinary automobile and having no problems whatsoever, I offer the following commonsense tips to help you prevent flat tires and blowouts:

  • Be alert and 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. Steer around them.
  • Observe the speed limit. This will enable you to better watch for and avoid these larger stones. And should you hit one it won't do as much damage at a slower speed.
  • 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 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.

The section from Brisay (km 582) to Caniapiscau (km 666) is rougher and a 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended by Hydro Quebec. The main reason for this is the very coarse gravel used for this road - there's large rocks littering the road surface. However, I have heard from people who have driven this road in ordinary passenger cars and they say it is fine. You do have to keep your eyes open for the larger rocks though.

The road is open year-round, however, it gets VERY cold up there in the winter (-40 degrees C), so if you go in the winter, or even the fall or spring, be prepared. In the summer it can get just as hot as down south. See the Weather pages.

There are very few rest areas and campgrounds. There are none past km 203. This is a working, practical road, not a tourist road.

This truly is a *VERY* remote road. Do not approach a trip along it lightly! This is not one of those "cover-my-butt" warnings. It's real.

Although this is a modern gravel road, it is nevertheless a very remote road with very little traffic. Please read the cautions below before traveling on this road.

If you are wondering if it is possible to drive east from the end of the Trans-Taiga Road to Labrador, read this page (it's not).



  • This is a very remote area. Travel in a reliable and well-maintained vehicle. A breakdown could be very costly in terms of towing fees. And may place you in a truly serious situation in the winter. Traffic is very sparse even on the "main drag" - the James Bay Road - in the summer. The Trans-Taiga Road has significantly less traffic.

  • Go to the Travel Information section and read everything there before going.

  • Vehicle breakdowns here can be very costly. Flat tires can be a serious (and expensive) incident if your tires are damaged. You could be looking at having tires flown in on a non-scheduled flight - there are no convenient "tire stores" up here!

  • Fill up with fuel whenever possible. Opportunities to fuel up are sometimes quite a distance apart, or may be closed, particularly off the James Bay Road (although the service depot at Km 381 of the James Bay Road is open 24 hrs).

  • This is not a trip for children or families. There are basically no child-oriented activities or facilities. You'll likely be stuck with a carful of whiny & bored kids.

  • This is a very long road trip. You really do need to love driving to undertake it. It's even a long trip just to get to the start of the James Bay Road! See the Trip Planner page for an idea of the distances involved.

  • Cell phones do not work in this area. There are emergency phones located along the James Bay Road and Trans-Taiga Road.

  • It gets very cold in the winter (down to -40 degrees C). Carry appropriate emergency and survival equipment. You could be in very serious trouble if you break down or lose control and go off the road, if you're not prepared. Carry a warm sleeping bag in your vehicle in case you break down. See the Weather page.

  • Summer is bug time: mosquitoes and black flies are extremely plentiful. Read about them here.

  • Black bears live here.

  • The scenery is not spectacular. This is low, flat or gently undulating country. Don't expect the Rocky Mountains. The main natural attraction of this area is the remoteness and silence.

  • If you are traveling on a motorcycle or bicycle, please read "The James Bay Region on a Motorcycle or Bicycle"


Other traffic: If 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 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 Trans-Taiga 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.

It is worth repeating: This is a VERY REMOTE ROAD. Do not approach a trip along the Trans-Taiga Road lightly. The far eastern end of the Trans-Taiga Road is about 765 km (475 miles) from the nearest town!

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