Arctic Poppy
Effects of permafrost at Herschel Island

The Land

The Yukon North Slope is a natural gem. As it is inaccessible to most, the area remains pristine and unspoiled.

Shaped by the ancient forces of wind, water and ice, the Yukon North Slope boasts an array of landscapes and geological wonders. The area, which is part of the polar world, is one of the most severe environments for people and wildlife – and, consequently, one of the most interesting.

The unglaciated Yukon North Slope, which is the area west of the Firth River, is believed to be one of the few surviving patches of Beringia.

Today, the most potent reminder of the Ice Age, and Beringia itself, is the presence of permafrost in parts of the Yukon North Slope. The permafrost is an important characteristic of the area, and extends far out into the Beaufort Sea Bed. Every year, remnants of the Ice Age return to the Yukon North Slope in the form of the shore and pack ice on the Beaufort Sea.

The Yukon North Slope of today is home to a number of mountain ranges, including the British, Barn and northern Richardson Mountains. The many different elevations of the area are reflected in vegetation patterns, and provide important migration routes for animals.

The Yukon North Slope derives its name from the gently sloping coastal plain. The passage of the glaciers on the eastern portions of the plain makes these areas quite different from the western portions. Again, these unique coastal plains offer a variety of habitats for all kinds of wildlife, adding to the undeniable beauty of the region.

The land itself is not marred by roads and towns. The only real indicators of human presence are several drilling sites and isolated North Warning System radar sites, as well as seasonal hunting camps occupied by the Inuvialuit people.