Route de la Baie James


Driving the James Bay Road

The James Bay Road is 620 km long (388 miles). It is paved for its entire length. This road was originally built to carry loads of 300 tons, so the road has mostly gentle curves and hills and wide shoulders. However, there are sections which are very bumpy, and even if you drive at the posted speed limit of 100 km/h, you could wreck your car on some of these bumps if you don't slow down. Some of the worst bumps have no bump sign! You may encounter logging trucks during the first 200 km or so, but they're not much of a problem as the road is paved. The James Bay Road is open year-round.

There is only one gas station for the entire length of 620km, at Km 381. There are no other facilities whatsoever for the entire length of the road. You need to check in at Km 6. Radisson has most services, but remember that it is still a small town, of only about 300 people.

Scenery: Generally the scenery is fairly level (some people will say it's downright boring). The road crosses some really big rivers. For most of the length it runs through 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 257. It is a sight you will not forget for some time!

Campgrounds and rest areas: There are regular picnic and rest areas to stop and take a break. There are also regularly spaced campgrounds.  However, these sometimes consist of little more than a parking lot suitable for trailers. You may instead to choose to camp in old gravel pits, which are plentiful and usually not all that ugly.

Telephones: There are emergency telephones located at intervals along the Road. They are basically regular pay phones, except they do not accept coins, only credit cards. The usual calling card calls, collect calls, and bill-to-third-number calls may be made of course. Cell phones do not work here. Cellular phones work until you hit Matagami (Bell Mobility), or Amos for Rogers. On the Route du Nord cell phones work at Km106 & other "top of the hill"  locations.

Although the James Bay Road is paved for its entire length of 620 km, it is nevertheless a very remote road with little traffic. Please read the cautions below before traveling on this road.


  • 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 other roads have significantly less traffic. At night traffic dwindles to nill.

  • 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, or driven up at great cost from down south - 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. There are a few photos of the James Bay Road in the winter on the Virtual Tour pages and also on the Rupert River website.

  • 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"

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