Canada’s Nahanni National Park Has to be Seen to be Believed

The Nahanni National Park, which sits in the Northwest Territories, was established back in 1972 and is one of Canada’s most beautiful and unspoiled parcels of land. The park features the South Nahanni, Little Nahanni, and Flat Nahanni Rivers, which are excellent spots for kayaking, rafting, and canoeing.

The landscapes are filled with wonderful canyons, mountains, ice fields, sinkholes, caves, boreal forest, rock towers, and alpine tundra.

Canada’s Nahanni National Park (photo by fortsimpsonchamber)

The park is about 11,500 square miles in size, which is about three times bigger than America’s Yellowstone Park. It runs along the Continental Divide and separates the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. Some of the interesting animals who call this park home include woodland caribou, Dall sheep, black bears, mountain caribou, moose, upland sandpipers, and trumpeter swans. In total, there are more than 40 different kinds of mammals living here and over 180 bird species.

The park is also home to Canada’s deepest canyons and the largest glaciers and the highest mountains in the Northwest Territories. The South Nahanni River is regarded as one of the most mystical in the world. The scenery is simply amazing as the water flows through four amazing canyons and features whirlpools and rapids with creative names such as Tricky Current, Lafferty’s Riffle, and Hell’s Gate.

The river can be pretty wild in some areas and it’s recommended for skilled paddlers and those who are on guided tours. You’ll also find Virginia Falls here, which is twice as high as Canada’s famous Niagara Falls. Like Yellowstone Park, Nahanni was one of the first to be named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The best time to visit this spectacular wilderness park is from June to August. This is because the South Nahanni River can flood all the way up until early June and after August the weather can get pretty severe. The best way to visit the park is to fly into Virginia Falls on a rural air service. There’s usually a Parks Canada ranger on duty in Virginia Falls and he or she will give you some valuable information about the park.

After that, you can hike for half an hour until you reach the viewpoint in Virginia Falls where you’ll see some breathtaking views of the Sluicebox Rapids and waterfall.

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get in some physical exercise as canoeing, rafting, and kayaking trips range between one and three weeks. However, Parks Canada recommends that you go on a licensed adventure. Trips down the river from Moose Ponds take 21 days to complete while those from Island Lakes take between 14 and 18 days, leaving from Rabbitkettle Lake will take between 10 and 14 days and if to leave from Virginia Falls the trip will take between 7 to 10 days.

The river trips end at Blackstone Territorial Park if you want to camp out and if you want to rent a cabin you will end up at Lindberg Landing. You are allowed to paddle the river on your own, but it’s still recommended that you take one of the licensed outfitter’s guides along with you. You’ll need to reserve a trip and obtain a permit before heading down the river and you must also register and check in at the start and end of your adventure.

The park is one of the most fascinating on the planet and it really has to be seen and experienced to be believed as words can’t really describe it.