Still no date for Dettah ice road after heavy snow and mild weather

A sign for the Dettah ice road shortly before the road opened for the 2022-23 winter season. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
A sign for the Dettah ice road on December 28, 2022. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

A fresh assessment of Yellowknife Bay will take place on Thursday, the NWT government says, after work on the Dettah ice road was postponed over the holidays for safety reasons.

The ice road between Dettah and Yellowknife, an attraction for tourists and time-saver for residents, has an average opening date of December 24 over the past 20 years.

Even so, early January openings are common (that average shifts to January 7 for the past five years alone). But any opening date beyond January 11 this year would be the latest the road has opened since published territorial records began in 1993.

“The mild temperatures and heavy snowfall levels we have experienced in the Yellowknife area recently have impacted construction activities for the Dettah ice road,” a Department of Infrastructure spokesperson stated by email on Wednesday.



“Attempts to profile the Dettah ice road alignment before the holiday season were postponed for safety reasons. There was substantial overflow encountered and measured ice thickness did not meet the minimum requirement for constructing and opening the ice road in the areas of the alignment the GNWT was able to access.

“GNWT maintenance staff are scheduled to proceed with ice checks and profile the Dettah ice road again on Thursday, January 5.”

The department said it was “unable to give an anticipated date” for the ice road to open, and warned drivers not to attempt the “illegal and unsafe” act of driving along the route before the road is formally opened.

Construction of the ice road will only begin this week “if conditions allow and we have sufficient ice,” the department said. A safe thickness for construction is considered by the GNWT to be 35 centimetres, or almost 14 inches.