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Can You Drive to Hudson Bay?

Can You Drive to Hudson Bay?

If you choose to drive to Hudson Bay, it won’t be a traditional road trip. Hudson Bay is a beautiful area to explore if you want to learn more about a subpolar-continental climate and reach some of the most remote regions possible by vehicle. You may also want to add experience to your travel repertoire.

Regardless of your reason for travel, there are a few things you should know about Hudson Bay before you set out. Take time now to discover how you can drive to Hudson Bay. Let’s dig in! 

Where Is Hudson Bay? 

Hudson Bay is a vast saltwater inlet in northeastern Canada. It shares a border with Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, and Nunavut. Part of the Hudson Bay lies within the Arctic Circle. The bay is 1,350 kilometers from north to south, and it extends 830 kilometers east to west. It has the longest shoreline of any bay in North America. 

Trans-Taiga. This is the most remote place you can reach by car in North America.

Is Hudson Bay a Lake?

Hudson Bay is not a lake. It is an enormous inland sea that leads to the Labrador Sea. It eventually runs into the Northern Atlantic Ocean. Hudson Bay is also saltwater, making it unable for experts to classify it as a lake. 

People call it Hudson Bay due to the glacial Canadian Shield surrounding the shores. Land frames it almost all the way around, except for the opening that leads to the Labrador Sea. 

Photo of map showing where Hudson Bay is located
Head to the Arctic Circle and drive to Hudson Bay.

What Is Hudson Bay Famous for? 

There are a few factors that make the bay famous. First, officials founded the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1670, and the company played a significant role in the fur trade industry in Canada. 

From the middle of December to the center of June, Hudson Bay is entirely frozen, making trade routes more accessible. People can drive to Hudson Bay during those times. Also, Hudson Bay is the world’s second-largest bay, with only the Bay of Bengal outshining it.

Can You Drive to Hudson Bay?

Driving to Hudson Bay is no simple matter. You can only drive to the heart of Hudson Bay when the water is frozen. When planning a drive on the “Ice Road,” you’ll have to prepare correctly. Communication and safety are essential. 

Your options to reach the Hudson Bay without ice only include one actual road. The James Bay Road reaches the Hudson Bay at the very end of the town of Chisasibi. It will lead you into the southern portion of the bay, and you can likely find a local who will help you traverse the rest of the way. 

The other ground transport option to reach the bay is by train that departs the town of Thompson and ends in Churchill. This town is famous for its polar bears.

Pro Tip: Learn more about driving on ice roads before you take on this particularly chilly challenge.

Car driving along snow covered and icy road along the James Bay Road route to Hudson Bay.
The seasonal elements along the James Bay Road make it no easy feat to drive on.

Can You Swim in the Bay?

You could swim in Hudson Bay. However, it’s always pretty cool in the area, and the water is never warm. If you’re a fan of cold swimming, you can have a unique experience swimming in Hudson Bay. 

Don’t plan a family swim outing to the area. There’s no family-friendly swimming park in Hudson Bay!

How Deep Is the Bay?

By ocean standards, the Hudson bay is considered shallow. However, the depth of the bay is all a matter of perspective. On average, Hudson Bay is about 128 meters deep. The deepest part of Hudson Bay is 259 meters.

By comparison, the average depth of the Bay of Bengal is 2,600 meters. Knowing that makes 259 meters seem pretty shallow. Hudson Bay is not deep because it was formed by the weight of a glacier ice shelf that depressed the earth during the last ice age. As the ice melted, the depression filled with sea water like a giant puddle.

Pro Tip: We traveled through Canada and spilled all of our insider scoop about what we learned.

Polar bear walking in Hudson Bay area
Travelers visiting Hudson Bay may cross paths with a polar bear on their adventures.

Are There Polar Bears in Hudson Bay? 

Yes! The harsh climate of Hudson Bay doesn’t make it very easy for animals to live there. The polar bear is an exception to the rule. There are polar bears in Hudson Bay area. 

Sometimes, polar bears even wander into some local settlements looking for snacks. Luckily, the people who populate the shores of Hudson Bay are tough and prepared. They know how to live peacefully alongside these giant white bears. 

Pro Tip: Want to camp for free while exploring Canada? These are our Tips for Boondocking in Canada.

What Is the Farthest North in North America You Can Drive?

The farthest north you can drive in North America is Prudhoe bay on the Dalton highway in Alaska. This road follows the Alaska pipeline and ends in an oilfield. You can also make it to Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest territories. Both of these lie on the Arctic Ocean.

The end of Trans-Taiga Road is the farthest north you can drive in eastern North America and by far the most remote road. The James Bay Road leads to the Trans-Taiga Road, ending in James Bay. James Bay is the southern area of Hudson Bay. It rests between Quebec and Ontario. 

Map showing driving route from James Bay Road to Trans-Taiga Road in Hudson Bay
Driving along the James Bay Road and the Trans-Taiga Road, while dangerous, is a thrilling adventure.

On the map, James Bay looks like a chunky thumb sticking out of the bottom of Hudson Bay. If you want to drive any further north than Hudson Bay, you’ll need a different mode of transportation. A dog sled or snowmobile or plane might be fitting. 

Is Hudson Bay Worth Visiting? 

It seems Hudson Bay draws a specific audience. If the cold climate, wildlife, and the Precambrian gneiss and granite rock shelf are the stuff of your dreams, then Hudson Bay is worth the visit. Take your time visiting. You’ll get more of an experience the longer you stay.

James Bay Highway Adventure Part 1

Would you want to visit Hudson Bay in the coldest months of the year, or would you wait for it to be a bit warmer to explore? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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