A Guide to Tombstone Territorial Park
Tombstone Territorial Park in Northern Yukon is a magical wilderness of rugged peaks and Arctic Tundra. No Yukon road trip is complete without visiting the park and hiking out on the trails.
The park has a size of 2,200 km2 and lies in the Traditional Territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch First Nations who have used the area for over 8,000 years.
The epic Dempster Highway cuts through the park and gives access to spectacular hiking areas.
Tombstone is remote and therefore go prepared, bring extra fuel, an extra spare tire and emergency equipment.
Try to spend at least two nights at the park and take advantage of the great hiking trails. The scenery is spectacular. Where else in the world can you drive to where boreal forest meets both, alpine and Arctic tundra?
ATTENTION! Hunting is an important part of northern culture. If you come across First Nation hunters or licensed residence, usually in the fall, please be respectful.
Why I went to Tombstone
Hiking at Tombstone and exploring the area was on my bucket list since I drove the Dempster Highway to Inuvik in 2016. At the time I only made a brief stop at the Interpretive Centre before driving on to Eagle Plains Lodge on the way to the Arctic.
In the Fall of 2020, I was finally back on the Dempster heading for the Tombstone wilderness. The rough gravel highway with its treacherous potholes was just like I remembered from my last trip. Apart from an additional chip in the windshield of my Toyota RAV4 the adventure journey went well.
A couple of easy hikes suitable for any fitness level start right at the Tombstone Mountain Campground. Don’t miss to get out there onto these trails.
My absolute highlight at Tombstone Territorial park was the Grizzly Trail hike. Also, I didn’t make it all the way to the lake, the experience was most rewarding and the views breathtaking. Next time I return to Yukon I will take my backpacking gear along to be equipped for the multi-day hike to Grizzly Lake.
How to get there
The Dempster Highway is a gravel highway starting 40 km from Dawson City, Yukon and it is the only road in Canada that crosses the Arctic Circle (at km 406). From there it continues to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The condition of the highway can turn from good to hellish in a short time depending on the weather and the traffic.
The drive to Tombstone Park takes approximately 1.5 hours from Dawson City, seven hours from Whitehorse and twelve hours from Inuvik, Northwest Territories.
Tombstone Territorial Park’s southern boundary starts at km 50.5 on the Dempster Highway.
NOTE: There is no cell service at the park and on the Dempster Highway.
Gas is available at km 0, junction North Klondike and Dempster Highways and at Eagle Plains Lodge, 371 km further North.
Tombstone Interpretive Centre
Pull in at the Tombstone Interpretive Centre at km 71.5 for information about the cultural and natural history of the park and region.
At the centre, they offer nature walks, hiking maps, information on road conditions, backcountry camping permits and bearproof containers for backcountry backpacking.
The centre is open daily from May to late September.
Tombstone Mountain Campground
Located at km 72, just north of the Tombstone Interpretive Centre, the campground has 48 sites with firepits, picnic tables, outhouses, water and a picnic shelter. All campers must register.
Two of the easy hiking trails, the North Klondike River Trail and Edge of the Arctic Trail start at the Campground with fantastic views of the mountains.
Tombstone Mountain Campground is open and fully serviced from the middle of May until the middle of September.
The park is open for use in the off-season as well. Please note that snow is not plowed, and all campers must register (no fee in the offseason). Bring your own toilet paper and firewood, and pack out all garbage.
Backcountry Camping at Tombstone
You will need a permit for the Grizzly, Divide and Talus lakes backcountry campgrounds. These campgrounds have tent pads, cooking platforms, grey water disposal and outhouses.
What you need to know about backcountry camping at Tombstone
- A permit for backcountry camping costs $12
- Mandatory backcountry registration and orientation sessions are offered daily at the interpretive centre.
- Leave your trip plan with a reliable friend with your planned hiking route and your expected date of return.
- Practice No Trace Camping and carry out your garbage.
- Store food and garbage in bear-proof containers at least 100 m from your camping area.
- The name “Grizzly Trail” sounds obvious – Bring a bear spray and know how to use it.
- A Guide: Lets Track Canada and hit the trails
- Observe but don’t disturb wildlife. Learn about bear safety before your trip.
- Several wildlife viewpoints are located along the Dempster Highway and within Tombstone Territorial Park.
- Drive slowly along the highway and watch out for wildlife at all times. There is a good chance to see fox, ptarmigan, grouse, caribou, moose or bears crossing the highway. Stop on the side of the road and observe from a respectful distance.
Most Popular Hiking Trails
Hiking at Tombstone Territorial Park means traversing through the remote wilderness with only a few established trails. To get to enjoy the amazing backcountry means taking responsibility for your own safety.
Grizzly Ridge Trail
- Starting point: Hwy km 58.5
- Duration: 2 – 4 hours
- Distance return: 6 km
- Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
The Grizzly Ridge Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails at Tombstone Territorial Park and I highly recommend it. Within an hour you get a spectacular view of Mount Monolith and the end of Grizzly Valley.
Depending on your fitness level you can continue on the trail towards Grizzly Lake.
Beaver Point Interpretive Trails
- Starting Point: Hwy km 71.5
- Duration: 1 hour
- Distance Return: 1 km
- Difficulty: Easy
This short 1 km trail is wheelchair accessible and starts at the south end of the Interpretive Centre parking lot. It highlights how water, wildlife and people shape the landscape.
North Klondike River Trail
- Starting Point: km 72 Tombstone Campground
- Duration: 1 – 2 hours
- Distance Return: 3.2 km
- Difficulty: Easy
The trail begins at the back of Tombstone Mountain Campground and is suitable for any fitness level. It is an easy hike and provides beautiful views of the surrounding area.
Edge of the Arctic Interpretive Trail
- Starting Point: Tombstone Mountain Campground, km 72
- Duration: 0.5 hours
- Distance: 0.5 km
- Difficulty: Easy
A great stroll and introduction to tundra and sub-alpine landscape with excellent views. The short loop begins 100 metres down the North Klondike Trail.
Goldensites Mountain Trail
- Starting Point: Hwy km 74.5
- Duration: 1 – 3 hours
- Distance: 3 km
- Difficulty: Easy
This easy hiking trail is close to the Tombstone Territorial Campground and and provides great views down along the Dempster Highway, the North Klondike Valley to Tombstone Mountain, and the mountains and ridges to the west.
Hart River Winter Road
- Starting Point: Hwy km 78.5
- Duration: Up to 6 hours
- Distance Return: Up to 19 km
The Hart River Road is an abandoned winter road that was built for mining activities in the 1960s. It is about a 4 km hike to Hart Pass and another 6 km to some good camping spots.
There are no vehicles allowed on this road, only ATVs and snowmobile traffic. Inquire at the Interpretive Centre for more information.
Grizzly Lake – Multi-day route
- Starting Point: Hwy km 58.5
- Duration: 7 – 10 hours
- Distance: 11 km (one-way)
- Difficulty: Difficult
Grizzly Lake is an overnight destination (permit required) and can be done as part of a multi-day trip including Divide and Talus Lake. There are also numerous side trips you can do from the lake including Grizzly Pass and Mount Monolith.
Good preparation and backcountry backpacking experience is necessary for this trip.
The route follows the popular Grizzly Ridge day-hike trail to Mt. Monolith lookout and continues across rocky terrain and up to beautiful alpine meadows. You’re rewarded with magnificent views of the surrounding rocky peaks and spectacular scenery as you get closer to the lake.
Because you’re hiking across a wide-open landscape you have a good chance to spot wild animals from a distance.