Uncovering the secrets of Canada’s Northwest Territories

photo by CC user Paul Gierszewski on wikimedia

When most tourists head out on a Canadian holiday, they have a number of destinations in mind that would make sense to the casual observer. Vancouver, the Canadian Rockies, Toronto, Montreal. If they are feeling saucy, they might also head down to that often forgotten patch of land on the East Coast known as Atlantic Canada, but seldom does anyone ever consider spending a portion of their itinerary in the Northwest Territories.

In the land north of 60, many surprises await those that venture off the beaten path. If you are dead set on uncovering the secrets of Canada’s Northwest Territories this summer, here are some not-so-subtle hints on where to look for them.

Nahanni National Park Reserve

Widely considered by many naturalists to be one of Canada’s best kept secrets, Nahanni National Park Reserve holds many treasures that are well worth abandoning the comforts of the modern world for a week to uncover.

The grandest gem of the park is unquestionably Virginia Falls, which has double the vertical drop of its thoroughly photographed cousin Niagara Falls in the distant south. The experience that will tie this whole trip together is a rafting voyage along the South Nahanni River, which is dwarfed by canyon walls that can tower up to 1,200 metres above you in places.

Witness the Northern Lights or the Midnight Sun in Yellowknife

Existing as a bubble of civilization in a sea of subarctic wilderness (the nearest settlement of any real size is Hay River, which is located almost 500 kilometres away by road), there is no better place to enjoy the natural wonders of Canada’s north in civilized comfort.

Come in summer to play golf underneath the Midnight Sun, or come clad in your thickest parka in winter to watch the Aurora Borealis dance across the night sky for hours on end.

Discover Arctic hamlets like Tuktoyaktuk

To get the true Northwest Territories experience, brave the high costs and get off the highways into the High Arctic hinterland of this vast land. Tuktoyaktuk, while reachable in winter via ice road from Inuvik, is a popular place to see what life in an arctic outport is like, while those looking to go further afield will find similar experiences in places like Sachs Harbour.

This community also serves as a hub for those wishing to explore Aulavik National Park, which is one of this nation’s least explored and most isolated protected natural areas.

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