Nahanni Range Road, Yukon
(a.k.a. Cantung Road or Tungsten Road)
Northern Highways - Alaska, the Yukon & northern British Columbia
Nahanni Range Road Links
Click on each photo to enlarge it
The road in the Yukon that takes top place as the most little-known even among locals is the Nahanni Range Road, officially known as Highway 10.
The gravel road starts at the Robert Campbell Highway, 107.8 km (67 miles) north of Watson Lake. Known as Miner's Junction or Cantung Junction, there is only a log cabin there, with no services (shown to the left). Two miles further up the Campbell is a government highway maintenance camp shown on many maps as a community called Tuchitua - there are no services there either.
The road leads 200 km (125 miles) to a tungsten mine operated by North American Tungsten. Shortly after leaving the Campbell Highway you go through a pass between 7,000-foot mountains, then follow the Hyland and Little Hyland rivers for most of the way to the Northwest Territories border at Km 188 (Mile 117). Fishing for Arctic grayling along the road is reported to be excellent.
When I went up in July 2001 intending to spend a couple of days exploring and photographing the road, I found it gated off due to washouts and the large-scale maintenance being done in preparation for the re-opening of the tungsten mine. The reason for the box on top of our Tracker seen in the photo to the left is that the truck is filled with two huskies and a cat!
The historic marker at the start of the road says:
In 1959 the Canada Tungsten Mining Corporation was formed to develop the rich deposits of scheelite which had been discovered 125 miles north of here, past the Northwest Territories border. This immense deposit of tungsten-bearing ore is the largest in the free world.
Located at the headwaters of the Flat River, the area was remote and difficult to reach, with a primitive landing strip providing the only means of access. In 1961 an aerial reconnaisance was carried out and late that year, without any further survey work, construction started on the Cantung Road, as it is commonly called. Funding for the project was provided by the company and the government, and construction was completed in 1963.
Following the closure of the mine in 1986, minimal maintenance was done on the road, and much of the information on the Internet today reflects the days when the road was in poor condition and the bridge at the Hyland River was washed out. With the mine having reopened in January 2002, the road is again well maintained, and mine crews are taken in by bus.
Although the town of Tungsten (Cantung) is not accessible to the public and there are no services along the road, there are many informal places to camp along the way as well as the small (10 sites) government campground at Km 84 (Mile 52). The links that follow will give you much more information, on both official and personal Web sites.
Nahanni Range Road Links
1978 Moped Trip
Walter Muma went 42 miles up the road in 1978, and has posted photos and notes from the trip.
1998 Alaska, BC & YukonTrip
Dale & Cindy Wilkins have a couple of photos and notes about the road included in their trip journal.
Nahanni Road Beauty
A single photo of a road-side lake, by Gerry Mussgnug.
Check conditions on the Nahanni Range Road on the Highways Department site.
Nahanni Range Road Map, 1972
This map is from a 1972 brochure, "travelling yukon", published by the Yukon Dep't of Travel and Information.
Photos are ©2002-2012 by Murray Lundberg