The Richardson Mountains are a mountain range located in Northern Yukon, mostly above the Arctic Circle. The mountains lie west of the Mackenzie River and roughly delimit the northern border between Yukon and Northwest Territories. They are bordered on the north by the Arctic Ocean. Since the Richardson Mountains are roughly north-south, some people erroneously consider these mountains to be the extension of the Rockies. Rather, they are an extension of the Brooks Range in Alaska.
Seen from the Dempster highway, the Richardson mountains appear as a series of undulating hills that slowly build as they roll into one another. They rise to an elevation of 4,067 feet (1240 m). It makes for great hiking, since you can get up on a ridge and observe the tundra stretching out to the horizon in many directions.
A characteristic of this region is that it is the largest extent of unglaciated mountain ranges in Canada. When you look at the coverage of the Canadian Shield and how far south glaciers traveled during the last ice age, you realize that this region provided a land bridge that could be traveled by various species. Also, since this is north of the arctic circle, the ground is generally permafrost. More details can be found at the following location:
The Richardson mountains were named after Sir John Richardson in 1825. He was the surgeon, naturalist, and Arctic explorer, a member of two of Franklin's overland expeditions.
The Richardson mountains are home to many northern species such as the caribou, grizzli bear, Dall sheep, muskoxen and moose. One of the spectacular North-American seasonal migrations occurs when the Porcupine caribou herd moves from the Arctic ocean to winter in the Richardson mountains. Some people estimate the herd to contain well over 100,000 head.
Hiking trails through the Richardson Mountains start from various locations along the Dempster Highway. Adventure trips with local outfitters can be arranged from Fort McPherson, the closest community to the scenic Richardson Mountain stretch of the Dempster Highway.
There is only one way to get there by car. From Dawson City, take the Dempster highway north. This is a 736 km highway that leads to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. A word of caution about the Dempster highway. While is is very driveable, it is gravel and can be compared to the Dalton Highway in Alaska. It can be pleasant when the weather is warm and dry, but challenging when soaked and slippery. Services along the highway are few and far between. Some travelers carry extra fuel and spare tires.
Some people choose to fly to Inuvik and from there take an organized adventure tour at the "top of the world".
The best place to get information is either in Dawson City, or at the visitor center in Tombstone Territorial Park. The visitor center is also the place to get back-country camping permits. This can be rugged terrain and it is best to register a plan before heading out to the back-country.
Some people travel this road in winter, but it is very, very cold and can be dangerous unless you are well prepared.
Local outfitters based in Fort McPherson:
Campgrounds along the Dempster highway are few and far between. The one closest to the Richardson Mountains is the Rock River campground.