Some of the most magnificent national parks in Canada are quite isolated and located in the northern Arctic wilderness. One of the best is Sirmilik National Park which lies in the Nunavut region of the nation. This fantastic park is approximately 5.5 million acres in size and was established back in 2001.
The park is filled with breathtaking views of the nearby broad valley vistas, mountains, and sea. It’s also home to a remarkable variety of avian and marine life.
(photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org)
One of the most popular areas of the park is Bylot Island, which provides visitors with numerous stunning sights, such as deep and dark-blue waters and glistening white and turquoise icebergs and glaciers. If you’re lucky, you may also be able to see some of the numerous seals and narwhals which make their home in the park.
There’s also a bird sanctuary at Bylot Island where research on the snow goose has been taking place for well over 30m years now. Over 40 species of migratory birds nest on the island as well.
The park has a definite Inuit influence and has had for centuries. The local people depend on the park’s wildlife and landscapes to survive. The Inuit people found shelter in the region years ago when the weather dictated it and they had to rely on the local offerings for their existence.
The name of the park, Sirmilik, actually translates into the place of glaciers from the Inuktitut language. The park stretches across the northern tip region of Baffin Island and it is bordered by the Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay communities. The best way to get to this remote park is to head to Iqaluit and then fly by local airlines to the gateway community of Pond Inlet or Arctic Bay.
You can also try the trip by snowmobile and once the summer comes you can get there by boat. Once you reach Arctic Bay or Pond inlet you can rent a snowmobile or hire a guide to take you into the park. If you’re an avid skier, you can ski across the ice from Pond Inlet, which is about a 16-mile trip.
During the summers, there are several cruise ships which sail around the inlets and sounds of Sirmilik National Park. Kayak trips are also popular. The best time to visit is during the spring or summer, from May to September. The sun shines most of the time during this time of the year because the park is so far north.
You may find the park is accessible when the ice breaks up since you won’t be able to reach it by snowmobile or skiing. Reaching the park by water is also out since the ice is too hazardous for boats and ships. The best time for hiking and exploring the park is between August and mid-September. Once October comes, the weather is quite stormy and harsh and the sun rarely makes an appearance at all for about two months straight.
There are plenty of activities to enjoy at Sirmilik and you’ll be able to get a close-up view of the amazing wildlife, icebergs, and glaciers there. It’s a paradise for birdwatchers and if you’re the adventurous type, you’ll be able to scuba dive under the sea ice to see the marine life, which includes beluga whales, narwhals, and walruses.
If you visit in the summer there’s a good chance you’ll be able to meet some of the local Inuit residents. This will enable you to learn about their fascinating history, traditions, and culture. The park is ideal for experienced skiers, boaters, kayakers, and hikers. If you’re new to these activities, you should hire a guide, especially when exploring the backcountry.
Since the park is relatively new, there aren’t a lot of established trails to follow, but you’re invited to make your own. The landscapes and beauty at Sirmilik National Park are simply awesome and you won’t want to visit without a camera.