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The Most Diverse Park In Canada: Nahanni National Park Reserve

As one of the first 12 World Heritage Sites to be inscribed by UNESCO in 1978, Nahanni National Park Reserve was an obvious natural gem that needed to be protected. Not only is this National Park Reserve host to three of Canada’s ecozones, it also features rushing waterfalls, hot springs, tufa mounds, outstanding geomorphology, and has the finest examples of canyons in the world north of sixty degrees, making Nahanni National Park Reserve one of the most geologically diverse national parks in Canada.

Photo: National Geographic

Photo: National Geographic

Many people fly from all over the world to canoe and raft Nahʔą Dehé (the South Nahanni River). This is not for the casual tourist as these tours take from 7  to 28 days on the river depending where on the river you start. Camping and eating what you bring and with no cell service. That is right, you have to take all your photos on airplane mode and wait until you are back in cell service to post. Why do people float the river? The river is the best way to see all four noteworthy canyons that reach over 1,000m in depth. Imagine laying on your back and looking up at those natural giants… an experience you will remember forever.

Photo: Backbone Ranges

Photo: Backbone Ranges

Not interested in whitewater rafting? No worries. Why not try a sightseeing flight over the Gahnįhthah (Rabbitkettle) Tufa Mounds which includes a stop at Glacier Lake to stretch legs and snap a red chair selfie while taking in the giant peaks guarding the Cirque of Unclimbables.  You might even see some interesting species from the air such as trumpeter swans, sheep and caribou.

Photo: Destination Canada

Photo: Destination Canada


Nahanni by Donald Wilder, National Film Board of Canada

Quick Facts:
Location: Northwest Territories
Date Established: 1972
Park Size:  30,000 square kilometres

How to Get There:
Drive to the gateway community of Fort Simpson or fly your choice! The drive takes 18 hours from Edmonton, Alberta along the Mackenzie Highway to Fort Simpson. Why not turn it into an epic two-day road trip and stop at a hotel in High Level, Alberta. Not into driving? Catch a flight to Fort Simpson via Yellowknife and then hop on a beautiful floatplane ride to the park.

When to Go:
Bask in the long summer days and explore the park from June to August when the weather is warm. But beware, there is a chance of cold and snow, even in summer.

What to Do:
Take a two-hour flight to Náilicho (Virginia Falls) with one of 14 licensed air charter companies. Once you arrive you can join a Parks Canada tour or set out on an easy 30-minute hike to the Virginia Falls viewpoint. Looking for more cardio? There is also a more challenging hour hike that goes around the falls, be sure to bring a raincoat if you are planning on doing this one because you are sure to encounter some mist.

Paddle sports more your thing? Plan on joining a canoe, kayak or raft trip with Nahanni River Adventures, Liard ToursBlack Feather or Nahanni Wild. You won’t regret it!

Not recommended for day visitors to hike on their own unless they are prepared for wilderness travel and carry bear spray, bear bangers, emergency first aid and emergency communication equipment (satellite telephone, iridium, inreach device).  Visitor Safety and Dehcho cultural connection are the two key reasons why park interpreters & or pilots accompany visitors on these hikes.  A traditional ceremony of respect is shared with visitors at the fall viewpoint as  Náįlįcho is a Dehcho site of great significance.

Trip Details

For details on anything mentioned in this post check out these links

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