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Friday, 04 March 2016 00:00

Yellowknife and the road To The Midnight Sun

rsz midnight sun It is not a secret in the riding community that I love to ride. I am happiest on my bike and my favourite saying about riding is “A bad day of riding still beats a good day at work!”

 

 

There are several rides that I can take from where I live in Grande Prairie, rides that are spectacular. Depending on my mood and available time, I can go for an hour brain clearer or a full on 14-15 hour ride to one of my favourite places in Canada, Yellowknife NT.

(Truth be told, I have a ton of favourite places in Canada.)

It’s a challenging ride that can prove mesmerizing at times; Grande Prairie to Yellowknife. 1,212 Kilometers of ride that clears the mind, soothes the soul and challenges your metal. 

You can take two days to get there or one; it depends totally on the weather and on you. I enjoy doing the ride both ways, but I love to take two days to get there if I have travelling companions.

One of the many beauties of riding in the north is the sun. 

60th parallelIn the summer, dusk doesn’t really take place around Grande Prairie until 10 pm and the farther north you go, well the later it starts. In places like Yellowknife NT and Dawson City YT, dusk starts at about 12:30 - 1 am and sunrise starts at about 3 am.  Yes, they get around 20 hours of sun with no real night at all!

If you have never ridden in the north, you are truly missing out on some incredible sights and I hope this short article helps motivates you to giving it a try!

The Midnight Sun, Show ‘n’ Shine & Run hosted by the NWT Riders Association is a must do event for any rider.  It happens every year for the summer solstice, and my birthday generally falls on one of the days that I am on the road for this adventure.

If I am going to head up there in one day, I know I have to be on the road nice and early, 6 am is ideal.  Usually the heated gear is nice this time of day.   (If am splitting it up into two days, I don’t need to leave until about noon.)

I ride from Grande Prairie to Fairview, about 115 Km’s, and that’s generally where I’ll have breakfast or lunch. 

The Dunvegan Inn & Suites is a Rider Friendly hotel that you have to try out! The food is always wonderful, the service is always pleasant and the rooms, should you need one, are always clean, well appointed with lots of hot water.

After a good scarf, I head for Grimshaw, about 60 K up the road. I generally fuel up here. 

One rule for riding in the North: NEVER, EVER ride past a fuel station.  A station that used to carry fuel last year might not have fuel this year. You can’t take the chance unless you want to snuggle up to a buffalo in a ditch somewhere as your place to sleep for the night!

I recommend carrying 2, one-gallon Reda 1 saddlebag gas cans.

They can make all of the difference in the world! 

After a quick coffee and pee break at Sammy’s and topping up with fuel at the Shell station, I head toward Manning.

By this time I can usually take off the heated gear, but not always.  The wind up in this part of the country can challenge you in more ways than one. 

Sings RestaurantI generally top up at the Esso in Manning, I’ve only ridden about 90 K, but as I mentioned before, YOU NEVER, EVER ride past a fuel station. On my way home, I ALWAYS stop for Chinese Food at Sings Restaurant.

Next stop is Keg River; about 65-70 K from Manning – there is a gas and convenience store on the left.

The next major stop is High Level and it offers lots of hotels, fuel and meal choices. 

I like the Flamingo Inn, they are very rider friendly, and their rooms are clean and decently priced. (From Keg River to High Level is about 110 K.)

The road can be deceiving, and game can step out almost any time, so please don’t let the relative straightness of the 180 Km stretch between High Level and Indian Cabins lull you into complacency.

Indian Cabins is a small trading post with some great coffee but only regular fuel is available here. Regular fuel is almost all you will get from here to Yellowknife, so I like to carry Amsoil Octane Boost with me!

It’s also starting in around here that the bugs can become very…. interesting, yes that’s a good word. When you go to stop, especially if it is hot out, I recommend you do two things, number one, ensure you have your can of bug dope ready to spray any exposed hide.

Number two, the minute you stop, do not dally on your bike, get off and walk away as fast as you can so the hornets & wasps that will swarm, will eat the bug guts off your bike and not eat your hide.

Once you get away from the smell of warm fuel and engine, the bugs become much less as they will stay behind to swarm your bike for a while! 

Your next stop puts you that the 60th Parallel sign and visitor center about 50 K away.

Falls Once you’ve stopped at the visitor center to get your obligatory 60th Parallel photo, you’ll want to stop at the waterfalls: there are two, Louise and Alexandra, very close by in Twin Falls Park. Both sets of falls are magnificent and I encourage you to go for a wander.

The next fuel stop is Lisa’s Place in Enterprise about 85 Km’s away.  This is another of those gas and go type of stops…unless of course you are taking two days to get to Yellowknife and you want to ride into Hay Lakes.  (Worth doing if you have the time!) The next place to eat and fuel up is in Fort Providence, 140 K away.

From Fort Providence to Chan Lake Park about 87 K up the road; the Buffalo rule the road! Be very careful when Bison (Buffalo) are on or near the roadways.

These sleepy looking giants can turn on a dime and they are fast!

The average Bison weighs in at about 2,000 lbs. and can charge at you with a speed of 30 Km’s per hour.

From Fort Providence into Yellowknife is 305 Km’s.  There is fuel available in a small community called Bechoko/Fort Rea, about 9-10 K off the main highway.

They serve pretty good food there too.

The highway becomes very interesting to ride as the frost heaves become like the rolling swells of the sea. The landscape changes too, as trees become fewer, shorter and great big boulders take their place.

The city of Yellowknife is much like any other city with regards to the amenities they offer, but that is where the similarities end.  There is much to do and much to take in and if you are a rider, the Northwest Territory Riders Association’s Midnight Sun, Car & Motorcycle Show ‘n’ Shine & Run is a must do.

Nothing in this world can compare with riding under the Midnight Sun with 50 – 100 other riders.  There are no words to adequately describe how magnificent the scenery becomes when riding under the Midnight Sun.

Belt Drive Betty,

Editor & Rider

Last modified on Thursday, 17 March 2016 08:55

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