Heritage Route

(Highway 1) 

This route extends from Checkpoint northwest to Fort Simpson and then on to Wrigley. You will travel through a beautiful region of forested hills, mountains, and clear lakes and rivers. Outdoor activities are within easy reach - camping, fishing, hiking, canoeing, rafting and viewing nature.

A community campground is also available in Wrigley.

Kilometres/miles reflect distance from the NWT/Alberta border.

The Lafferty Ferry – Liard River Crossing

Kilometre 456.4 (Mile 283.6)

This ferry operates daily from 8:00 am until 11:45 pm "on demand" from late May through October. In winter, an ice road replaces the ferry.


Crossing the river is not possible during spring ice break-up and fall river freeze-up. To check current river crossing conditions: 1-800-661-0750

Junction of Highway 1 and Fort Simpson Access

Kilometre 471.3 (Mile 292.9)

Highway 1 turns left to take you northwest to the community of Wrigley. Continuing straight will take you to the main portion of the village of Fort Simpson.

Fort Simpson

Kilometre 471.3 (Mile 292.9)

Fort Simpson (pop. 1,264) is located at the confluence of the Mackenzie and Liard Rivers, and is the largest community in this region and the oldest former trading post on the Mackenzie River. It is the primary location from which to access the Nahanni National Park Reserve and Nááts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve of Canada, where the park has its main office.


Access to Nahanni National Park Reserve and Nááts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve is primarily through air charters, which can be arranged from several communities in the NWT, including Fort Simpson, Fort Liard and Yellowknife. Visit the National Park office for more information or .

Fort Simpson has a nine-hole golf course, a 32-site territorial campground and a very nice Visitor Information Centre, with a wealth of displays and historical information. Local arts and crafts shops feature traditional Dene artwork.

Historically, this area was a primary meeting place for First Nations prior to contact with European-based traders, explorers and settlers. During the fur trading years, this area was an important location for the Northwest Trading Company (subsequently the Hudson's Bay Company). The "Fort of the Forks" was established and was later renamed Fort Simpson after the first governor of the Hudson's Bay Company.

Of Special Interest

  • Fort Simpson's Papal Site is now home to the largest wooden teepee in the world, at 50 ft tall.
  • Ask about an Historical Walking Tour at the Visitor Information Centre.
  • "Open Sky Festival" is an annual arts/music festival generally held the first weekend in July.
  • Arrange an air charter to Nahanni National Park.

The Mackenzie River was named after Alexander Mackenzie, who was an explorer seeking a route west to expand the fur trade. As it turned out, the Mackenzie River took him north rather than west and opened up a different world to the traders.

Of Special Interest

  • A great location for birdwatching and listening to a frog's chorus! Many different species of birds have been documented in this area and many use the "Snye" as a nesting area. The Snye is a shallow wetland ecosystem located between the main portion of the community and the southern shoreline of the river. Many species of migratory waterfowl may be seen in season, including tundra swans and snow geese.

Fort Simpson Territorial Park

Kilometre 474 (Mile 294.5)

Located at the entrance to Fort Simpson, and at the confluence of the Mackenzie and Liard Rivers, this park has 21 powered sites, and 11 nonpowered sites. Services and attractions in the town are within walking distance, including the Papal Site, where Saint John Paul visited in 1987.

Junction of Highway 1 and Fort Simpson access

Kilometre 471.3 (Mile 292.9)

To complete the Heritage Route, head northwest 220.5 km/137 miles to Wrigley.

Kilometres/miles reflect the distance from NWT/Alberta border.

Martin River

Kilometre 489.9 (Mile 304.4)

The one-lane bridge at this location should be taken with great care and reduced speed. Local people often fish here when the pickerel/walleye or Arctic grayling are active.

Shale Creek

Kilometre 529.5 (Mile 329)

This small creek contains a one-lane bridge crossing that requires caution and reduced speed.

The Johnny Berens Ferry – Nduleh Crossing

Kilometre 550.5 (Mile 342.1)

The ferry operates "on demand" from 9 am to 11 am and from 2 pm to 8 pm from late May through October.


This river crossing is subject to extreme high and low water level fluctuations, which may cause delays. Crossing the river is not possible during spring ice break-up and fall river freeze-up.

Check the current river crossing conditions: 1-800-661-0750

Willowlake River

Kilometre 625 (Mile 388.4)

The Willowlake River winds its way from the Horn Plateau in the east to the Mackenzie River. This river was historically used by the Indigenous groups from the east to bring furs to Fort Alexander, which was located near here. The furs and supplies were then traded and goods transported to market via the Mackenzie River.

Mackenzie Valley Viewpoint

Kilometre 631 (Mile 392.2)

Great view to the south of the Mackenzie Valley and River, meeting with the Willowlake River. Looking west across the Mackenzie River and several large islands, you can see the Mackenzie Mountains beyond. Looking east you can see the beginnings of the McConnell Mountain Range, which turns into the Franklin Mountain Range a little further north.

Did You Know?

Water is trucked into most of our parks – please use wisely.

River Between Two Mountains

Kilometre 652.9 (Mile 405.7)

This river cuts a channel through the McConnell Range in the east, on its way to the Mackenzie River. The river has substantial cultural and historical significance to the First Nation groups in the area.


Kilometre 690 (Mile 428.7)

Wrigley (pop. 153) is the northernmost all-season access point along the Heritage Route/Highway 1. This picturesque community overlooks the Mackenzie River, with the Franklin Mountains in the distance. Most of the Dene people in Wrigley live in log homes and carry on their traditional livelihoods of hunting, fishing and trapping. In the winter, the community provides a stop-over for vehicles driving further north on the winter roads to the communities of Tulita, Deline, Norman Wells, Fort Good Hope Enviro Photo and Colville Lake.