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Mackenzie/Heritage Highway (Hwy #1 W)
Mackenzie / Heritage Highway (Hwy #1 W)
The Mackenzie Highway and the Frontier Highway are the two main highway routes of the Northwest Territory, Canada. The Mackenzie Highway is a two part highway. The east is called the Waterfall Route and the west is called the Heritage Route.
The Heritage Highway travels northwest from Checkpoint to the community of Fort Simpson and then continues to Wrigley. The total distance of the Mackenzie Highway measures 278 kilometres (172 miles) long. It is a paved and hard pack gravel highway.
From Checkpoint to the community of Fort Simpson the highway is mostly paved. Rough spots include pot holes, one lane bridges and rib rattlers (a series of small bumps one after the other). Pot holes are identified by flags pinned to the side of the road.
It is very wise to travel with a good spare tire, emergency supplies and a full tank of gas. Some travelers pack along extra gas on all long haul trips exploring any of the NWT highways, as gas stations can be rare at times. Always drive smart with your headlights and seatbelts on.
There are services on the Mackenzie Highway in the community of Fort Simpson and Wrigley. Most of the services important to travelers are located in Fort Simpson like accommodations, campground, gas, general store, propane, tour companies, restaurant, grocery store, bank, Parks Office, Post Office and coffee shop.
Mile "0" on the Mackenzie/Heritage Highway, traveling east to west , is located at the intersection of Highway #1 and Highway #7 near Checkpoint. From Checkpoint the paved highway continues for 43 kilometres (26 miles) to the Liard River Ferry.
The ferry connects the highway to the community of Fort Simpson. The ferry is free and operates every hour in the summer. During the winter the river freezes over and an ice bridge connects the highway to the communities.
At kilometre 57 (mile 38) there is a fork in the highway. Turn left and continue on the Mackenzie/Heritage Highway to Wrigley. Turn right and travelers connect to Fort Simpson. There are signs to help you with this important decision.
The Fort Simpson Territorial Park is located at kilometre 61 (mile 38) on the Mackenzie/Heritage Highway. It is a campground park and birdwatching destination. At kilometre 75 (mile 47) there is a narrow one lane bridge crossing the Marten River. Watch for people fishing for arctic grayling.
The Nduleh River Ferry crossing is located at kilometre 135 (mile 84) on the Mackenzie/Heritage Highway. The service is free and operates on an "as needed" system. The ferry crossing is necessary if traveling to Wrigley.
Near kilometre 212 (mile 132) is Willowlake River. The bridge crossing the river is the longest bridge in the Northwest Territory. Just a few kilometres after the river is the Mackenzie Valley Lookout. Great spot for a picnic with good views of rivers and mountains.
At kilometre 278 is the community of Wrigley, Northwest Territory, Canada. Wrigley is a Dene First Nation Village. Services important to travelers in the village include gas station, accommodations, general store and a restaurant.
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