How To Travel To Greenland From the US

Can You Drive To Greenland

You cannot travel directly by road from Canada or any other country to Greenland because no roads or bridges connect them.

Greenland is positioned between the North Atlantic and Arctic Circle oceans and offers some of Earth’s most dramatic and perfect wilderness landscapes. Its massive ice sheet and network of deep fjords create steep, vertical landscapes bordered by glaciers and frozen inlets, inviting adventure. Yet, with no interconnecting roads tying its scarce coastal outposts together, the question remains: “Is driving to Greenland by car even possible?”

Can you Drive to Greenland?

Greenland’s complete lack of vehicle infrastructure, coupled with geographical realities, makes driving directly from Canada, the United States, or even Iceland humanly impossible currently. No bridges link Greenland to other landmasses atop the continental shelf, separating the island from neighboring coastlines by at least 260 miles at the nearest points. And no ferry routes exist conveying cars or trucks between ports either.

The sole reliable way motorists can bring their vehicles to Greenland involves booking international shipping transit from Denmark or Iceland. Specialists arrange custom overseas transport aboard sealed cargo barges or carriers. But even then, upon arrival, car freedom remains limited, given most of Greenland lacks even bare roads. Vast shifting ice sheets, craggy granite mountains, and fjord-etched inlets prohibit vehicle access into the interior.

Can You Drive To Greenland

Can you Drive from Canada to Greenland Over Ice?

Is it possible to drive to Greenland from Canada? During peak winter months around February and March, consolidated pack ice may theoretically form semi-stable platforms linking Canada’s Baffin Island to Greenland’s easternmost fjords and inlets more than 300 miles distant. In rare cases, experienced explorers like polar adventurer Will Steger have completed such journeys via sleds and snowmobiles.

Yet even in the deepest winter, the variability of Arctic sea ice prevents vehicles from securing reliable passage driving between Nunavut’s Ellesmere Island up through Greenland’s coastline. Unpredictable breaks between ice floes mean frigid open ocean crossings. Embedded icebergs that suddenly shear off glacier faces make the ice cap unstable, threatening to crack suddenly.

Is There a Ferry from Canada to Greenland?

No direct car ferry or roll-on/roll-off ship routes currently operate between Canada’s Arctic Archipelago islands or mainland to Greenland’s ports. Historical sporadic freight routes shipped supplies like seal skins via boat until the 1960s but ceased operating due to unreliable ice sheets. Any modern travel must, therefore, originate from Iceland or Denmark’s port serving the capital, Nuuk, by air or sea without vehicles.

Can You Drive To Greenland from Canada

Can you Drive Around Greenland?

Driving within Greenland also poses extreme challenges beyond merely navigating the island’s mountainous shores. No interconnected highways link even coastal communities atop the island’s frozen expanse, meaning accessing the interior remains solely by bush plane or dog sled. Most residents in tiny villages rely exclusively on boats plying iceberg-strewn waters or narrow gravel airstrips instead of any roadways.

Less than 100 kilometers (60 miles) of public roads exist nationwide, concentrated near the capital, Nuuk, on the southwestern coast. Even here, roadways resemble rutted, rocky trails better suited to passing traktor farm vehicles than ordinary automobiles. Without roads, terrains far too hostile deter driving or even transit infrastructure investments, leaving Greenland inaccessible by car indefinitely, both incoming and around the island.

Methods of Travel to Greenland from the United States

Reaching Greenland requires flying directly into one of a handful of airports dotting the coastline or boarding a commercial cruise vessel to access settlements and remote stations by sea without a vehicle in tow.

Can You Drive To Greenland

By Air: Commercial flights operate year-round from Copenhagen, Iceland, and seasonally to select Canadian cities, airlifting passengers into international airports at Kangerlussuaq, Narsarsuaq, and Nuuk. Smaller Dash prop planes connect to additional hamlets like Ilulissat or Qaqortoq thanks to hardy airline Air Greenland’s extensive puddle jumper network across what otherwise remains an impenetrable fortress.

By Sea: During the milder summer between June and August, cruise ships frequently ply colder but navigable waters sailing along Greenland’s rocky periphery. Expedition vessels like the 114-guest Ocean Nova embark from Iceland and eastern Canadian departure points like Newfoundland. These cruises allow accessing Greenland’s natural grandeur and Indigenous communities without requiring roads or runways.

Can you Ship Your Car to Greenland?

Brave road warriors still determined to somehow motor the world’s most minor accessible, world’s largest island essentially through sheer force of will do have options shipping vehicles internationally directly into Greenland. However, it requires committing extensive arrangements well beforehand of planned arrival dates and working with approved customs brokers familiar with the unique logistics involved.

Can You Drive To Greenland

Most major international auto transport companies coordinate routing vehicles by container vessel or via transatlantic carriers into Greenland’s significant ports for residents relocating trucks with household effects shipments overseas. Upon arrival, vehicles can traverse open trails around some villages, albeit with vastly minimized flexibility during summer months alone, before the snow and solid ice return by October, firmly ending already few driving chances.

The Best Places to Drive in Greenland

For visitors lucky enough to ship overstreet-legal trucks or 4×4 vehicles by sea transport, Greenland offers some incredible opportunities to drive remote backcountry during summer without roads. Experiencing areas like the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kujataa Greenland, viewing icebergs calving from glaciers, or traversing tundra in national parks allows adventures in road-tripping against the backdrop of spectacular scenery.

Here are two prime areas accessible enough for perhaps only a handful of America’s most prepared overlanders intent on driving north up the western coast of Greenland each year when conditions allow:

Can You Drive To Greenland

Northern Lights – The Northern Lights spectacle results from charged particles colliding as they enter the magnetic polar regions and become visible to the naked eye. Greenland’s sparse population and absolute lack of light pollution make areas like coastal Disko Bay or Uummannaq ideal locations for witnessing extraordinary glowing curtain auroras emerging in the darkness during winter months.

National Parks Greenland houses the world’s biggest national park, safeguarding almost a tenth of the total land mass and 60% of fjords. Melville Bay Nature Reserve and North East Greenland National Park offer limited trails and ice roads in warmer months to discover wildlife like muskoxen or glimpse mammoth icebergs crumbling from ancient glaciers.

Best Time to Visit Greenland

Can You Drive To Greenland

The brief window for even considering driving remote regions of Greenland independently opens annually from June through September. This captures the milder summer spell when increased sunlight melts coastal snowpacks and sea ice temporarily recedes, opening access to traverse rugged landscapes by vehicle.

Yet even during this fleeting circa three-month mildest period, the environment remains fragile, inconsistent, and risky, demanding flexibility rerouting due to remnant ice sheets or sudden blizzard conditions materializing unexpectedly. 

Travelers who embark on overland journeys anticipate contingencies and adjust their itineraries while navigating vehicles tailored for exploring the remote backcountry at the top of the world. They constantly contend with the ever-changing and dynamic elements of the environment.

Can You Drive To Greenland

How to Get Around Greenland

The staggering, untouched beauty luring visitors to mysterious Greenland comes conditioned by intensely demanding natural barriers that almost seem intentionally erected to halt human mobility.

Yet, perhaps that inhospitable isolation concentrating constraints geographically somehow enhances the immense attraction it projects across imaginations. While Greenland may remain entirely inaccessible by car, it delivers adventure in bounds for voyagers willing to work creatively, unlocking keys to its elusive mysteries.

FAQs on Driving to Greenland

Can I drive from the US to Greenland?

No, it remains impossible to drive directly to Greenland from the United States or Canada, given the enormous ocean distances separating the island from North America alongside the complete lack of infrastructure like bridges or even bare roads around coastal Greenland once arriving.

How do you get to Greenland from the US?

Americans hoping to reach Greenland must fly into one of several Greenlandic airports like Kangerlussuaq through intermediate connections in Iceland or board special summertime cruises departing from Canada’s Atlantic provinces journeying far north and disembarking along its coast.

Can you drive across Greenland?

Due to minimal roadways, driving across Greenland’s width or even significant distances overland between most inhabited communities is currently impossible. Sleds, snowmobiles, or bush planes provide the only means to traverse the interior.

Can Canadians drive to Greenland?

There remains no way for Canadians, Americans, or other international drivers to reach Greenland directly by vehicle, given significant geographical barriers and lack of roads, bridges, or car ferries preventing access. Fly or sail only.

Can you fly to Greenland?

Yes, year-round flights operate directly to Greenland’s few airports from Iceland and seasonally from Canadian gateways. Summer packages even cater to visitors shipping their own 4×4 trucks over on supply vessels to drive selected backcountry trails, which are navigable briefly when ice sheets melt until October.

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