No update yet on Dettah-Yellowknife ice road opening

The NWT government says there is no firm date for the ice road connecting Dettah and Yellowknife to open for the winter 2022-23 season.

The winter road across Yellowknife Bay has opened on December 24 for the past two years, which is also the average opening date for the road over the past two decades.

But conditions on the bay play a large role, and territorial records show the road didn’t open until January for five consecutive years between 2016 and 2020.


January 11 is the latest opening date on record for the Dettah winter road in recent times, though the road has opened as early as November in the past.

A spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure said on Thursday no new information was immediately available since a December 20 update first reported by NNSL.

At the time, the GNWT said initial ice measurements on the road began on December 16 but large areas of overflow at the Yellowknife end needed to freeze, and ice thickness in some areas needed to increase slightly, before snow clearing work can begin.

This fall has brought more snow than usual to Yellowknife, which can have an insulating effect that complicates ice road construction.

In early 2020, the Department of Infrastructure said that year’s winter road did not open until January 11 in part because temperatures had been too cold for construction.


The Dettah ice road is a tourist draw, attracting visitors who want photos on one of the most readily accessible and stunning ice roads in the world. It’s also a faster commute between Yellowknife and Dettah, cutting 15 to 20 minutes off the time to travel by all-season road around the bay.

Meanwhile, overflow is also causing issues for the winter road connecting Sambaa K’e to the all-season highway network.

The small Dehcho community can only be accessed by road in winter, but this year’s temporary road – which opened to light traffic on December 22 – has already been forced to close twice because of overflow along the route.

The latest closure was announced by the department on Friday morning.