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How to pick your park in the Northwest Territories

Nahanni National Park

How to pick your park in the Northwest Territories

This post originally appeared on the Spectacular Northwest Territories websiteExternal Link Title.


The Northwest Territories is home to five national parks (soon to be six). Here, rivers run glassy-clear, peaks leap to the heavens, waterfalls plummet, and wild beasts abound - muskoxen, caribou, grizzlies, bison, you name it. Some of our parks, like Nahanni, are legends, on the bucket-list of every adventurer worth their salt. Others are unsung gems - the most untrammeled places on the planet. No matter whether you're waiting for bison to make way for your car in Wood Buffalo National Park, or ascending an unnamed, unclimbed peak in N??ts'ihch'oh, you'll be experiencing Earth in its perfect form: glorious, wild, and free.


Here's how to pick your park:


Aulavik National Park 

Best if you are: A flatwater paddler who likes Arctic wildlife, wildflowers and wilderness.

Signature landmark: The Thomsen River, the world's northernmost navigable waterway.

Signature animal: Muskoxen - zillions of them.

Signature experience: Floating along through a polar Eden.

Best Season: Unless you can build an igloo, come in summer.

Difficulty: Medium. The paddling is a piece of cake, but you're still long way from help.

Access point: Inuvik, from which you can charter a plane to the park.


Get the full story on Aulavik National ParkExternal Link Title 


Nahanni National Park Reserve

Best if you are: A connoisseur of legendary rivers (or a fan of Pierre Elliot Trudeau)

Signature landmark: Virginia Falls, the Godzilla of Canadian waterfalls

Signature animal: Nimble mountain sheep

Signature experience: Summitting Sunblood Peak, running Figure 8 Rapids, soaking in Kraus Hotsprings

Best Season: Summer

Difficulty: High if you're paddling. Easy-peasy if you're flying in on a daytrip to the falls.

Access point: Fort Simpson, from which you can charter a plane to the park.


Get the full story on Nahanni National Park ReserveExternal Link Title 


Naats'ihch'oh National Park Reserve

Best if you are: Aware that this park exists. It's brand-new, and a totally hidden gem

Signature landmark: Its namesake peak, stately Naats'ihch'oh mountain

Signature animal: Grizzlies, mountain goats, and other alpine critters

Signature experience: Paddling the upper Nahanni or Natla/Keele rivers; hiking trackless alpine

Best Season: Summer

Difficulty: High. The upper Nahanni's "Rock Garden" is 50 kilometres of whitewater

Access point: Chartered floatplane from Fort Simpson or Norman Wells


Get the full story on Naats'ihch'oh National Park ReserveExternal Link Title


Tuktut Nogait National Park

Best if you are: In love with solitude, caribou, and endless tundra

Signature landmark: La Ronci?re Falls on the Hornaday River

Signature animal: The Bluenose-West caribou herd, 68,000-strong, which give birth here

Signature experience: Floating the Hornaday, or travelling here with guides from Paulatuk 

Best Season: Summer, when cute baby caribou abound (squeeee!!!!)

Difficulty: High. You're totally on your own here, so survival skills are key

Access point: Inuvik, from which you can charter a plane to the park


Get the full story on Tuktut Nogait National ParkExternal Link Title 


Wood Buffalo National Park

Best if you are: A car-camper, bird nerd, or world-class whitewater kayaker

Signature landmark: A saltwater river, snake "hibernaculum," and the world's biggest beaver dam

Signature animal: Bison. And, if you're lucky, the world's tallest, rarest bird, the whooping crane

Signature experience: Walking barefoot on (and, if you dare, tasting) the glittering Salt Plains

Best Season: Year-round

Difficulty: Easy

Access point: Fort Smith


Get the full story on Wood Buffalo National ParkExternal Link Title 


Thaidene N?n? National Park*

Best if you are: A fisherman, sailor, kayaker, or dude with a sweet motorboat

Signature landmark: The rugged, rearing shore-cliffs of the Pethei Peninsula

Signature animal: Trout the size of your grandma

Signature experience: Catching those trout, cracking a beer, and frying up a scrumptious shore-lunch

Best Season: Summer for fishing or boating; winter for the aurora borealis

Difficulty: High if you're an independent kayaker or sailor. Easier if you're on a guided sportfishing trip

Access point: Yellowknife (charter a plane to the park), or Luselk'e, (depart by boat) 


Get the full story on Thaidene N?n?External Link Title


* Under development, but not yet an official park