The Deh Cho Travel Route

trailThe Deh Cho Route encompasses between 3000 and 5000 kilometres (1,837 – 3,375 miles).  The Deh Cho derives its name from the Mackenzie River. Deh Cho means “big river”, which is how the First Nations people describe the river. The trail forms a route across the regions.

The Route

The Deh Cho Trail connects the Mackenzie, Liard, and the Alaska Highways. It does so by meandering through three separate regions – Northern Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and British Columbia. The trail covers both populated and less populated areas. The southernmost part of the loop in particular is desolate terrain, comprising of rivers, lakes, hills, prairies, and the occasional farm. Wildlife, natural landscapes, scenic views, adventurous activities, and several attractions are the main reasons that people follow this trail each year. The total distance that is covered by each traveller is dependent on the route that each one takes. While most of the trail is paved, there are parts that consist largely of gravel.

Starting Point

The starting point that is most commonly used, depending on where the traveller is starting their journey, is Alberta. This takes individuals on Highway 1 in the northwest direction. This route continues up to the junction that takes you to Enterprise. Due to the remoteness of the Northwest Territory, Enterprise is typically the most popular destination for stocking up on supplies or settling down for accommodation. In order to reach Enterprise, you will have to cross the Mackenzie River.

If you choose to go on, one of the first destinations that you will come across is the Saamba De Falls Territorial Park. In addition to being able to see the Saamba De Falls as you are driving along, there are other sights to be seen as well. For those who wish to take a hike, Coral Falls is another natural feature along the way.

The Next Stage

For those that are driving through, Fort Simpson is the next terminal. Once you reach a junction with Highway 7, you simply have to keep heading north until you get to Fort Simpson on Highway 1. Fort Simpson marks one of the major entrances to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Nahanni National Park Reserve. The site can be entered by foot, although it is more common to land by plane or helicopter. The Nahanni National Park Reserve is famous for both its ancient, rich history as well as its ties to the Klondike Gold Rush.

The Final Stretch

Fort Simpson offers three final options – you can either travel north to Wrigley, go back via the road you travelled on, or head south. If you choose to head south, you will be taking Highway 7. In doing so, you will be able to visit Nahanni Butte, which offers another entrance into Nahanni National Park Reserve. In order to approach this area, however, you will require a water taxi service. This is offered by the Nahanni Butte Band Office. The water taxi service is typically reserved for smaller vehicles.

Due to the looping nature of this trail, you can choose to turn east and head back to Alberta. If you want to continue on, you can take Highway 7 in the south. By taking the south route, you will soon chance upon Fort Liard. Proceeding in a southern direction will take you to British Columbia and the last stretch of the journey.

The way along the route has an abundance of hills, rivers, waterfalls, and National Parks. There is something for every enthusiastic traveller to see. Stopping along the way, there is a chance to take part in fishing, kayakers, and even sightings of the Northern Lights. The route that you choose to pursue, as well as your schedule, will determine what you experience.


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