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Northwest Territories Travel Guide

QUICK Northwest Territories FACTS
Population: 44,541 (2018) • Area: 1,346,106 sq km • Capital City: Yellowknife • Official Flower: Mountain avens • Official Tree: Tamarack larch • Official Bird: Gyrfalcon

Discover the Northwest Territories

It’s hard to imagine what it is like in the Northwest Territories (NWT), the remote land of wild beauty and wide-open spaces with hardly any people. Discover the Regions of NWT.

The majority of Southerners, as well as the rest of the world, know little about Canada’s Territories and therefore have no idea what they are missing.

The Northwest Territories include the regions Yellowknife, North Slave, South Slave, Dehcho, Sahtu, and Western Arctic.

Did you know

  • Northwest Territories has the wildest, iconic highways.
  • NWT is home to Virginia Falls and Nahanni National Park Reserve.
  • Great Slave is North America’s deepest lake.
  • Deh Cho (Mackenzie) is Canada’s longest river and empties into the Arctic Ocean.
  • The Arctic Circle runs through the Northwest Territories at 66.6 degrees north.
  • About twenty percent of the NWT lies above the Arctic Circle, including Banks Island.
  • Other Arctic Islands such as Victoria Island and Melville Island are shared with Nunavut, the neighbour to the east.
  • 50 % of the population identify as First Nations.
  • NWT recognizes 11 official languages; nine Aboriginal languages as well as English and French.

Northwest Territories’s First Nations

The Dene

The Dene were the first people to settle in what is now the NWT. They hunted large animals such as caribou, moose and bison with bow and arrows. They made canoes out of birch bark and animal skins to fish on the lakes and rivers. When the water froze, they travelled on snowshoes or on sleds pulled by dogs and fished through holes cut into the ice. (Now you know where ice fishing comes from!)

Today, the Dene are made up of more than twenty groups who speak different dialects of the Athapaskan language. Those groups include the Tlicho, Chipewyan, Slavey, Yellowknife, Sahtu and Gwich’in.

Thule and Inuvialuit

Thule are the ancestors of the Inuit and they came to the Arctic about 1000 years ago.

The Thule hunted whales and walruses in the summer and seals in winter, along with caribou, muskoxen and other land animals. They lived in dome-shaped houses made of sod and stone.

The western Inuit who live in the NWT today are the Inuvialuit. Inuvialuit, like all other Inuit, are descendants of the Thule who migrated eastward from Alaska. Inuvialuit means “the real people”.

The northern Métis

During the years of the fur trade, many French and European fur traders started families with Aboriginal women. Their children became known as Métis.

Brief History

From the late 1500s, European explorers were looking for the Northwest Passage in the Arctic.

Further south, Hudson’s Bay Company claimed rights to all of the land of Hudson Bay and was called Ruppert’s Land. Over time, both, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Northwest Company established fur trading posts in the territory.

Some of these posts were:

  • Fort Resolution in the Great Slave region;
  • Fort Simpson, where the Liard and Mackenzie Rivers meet;
  • Fort Providence, south of Yellowknife

Life in the Northwest Territories Today

Aboriginal peoples – First Nations, Métis and Inuvialuit make about half the population of the Northwest Territories whose ancestors came to this land thousands of years ago. Other people have moved here from the south to take advantage of the rich natural resources.

First, it was furs, then minerals and fossil fuels. Most recently, the glimmer of diamonds has made people go north.

The fur industry is the oldest industry in the Northwest Territories and still today, many people continue to earn a living by hunting and trapping fur-bearing animals like beaver, Arctic and red fox, lynx, marten, mink, muskrat, wolf and wolverine. Furs and hides are used by local craft people and for export.

Fishing is also still a way of life for the Dene and Inuvialuit people.

While visiting the Northwest Territories you get the opportunity to learn firsthand about Aboriginal cultures and about their grim past. As a white person, you are the minority. The Northern people are extremely friendly. Listen to their stories and what they have to say.

When to Go

  • March – Best winter visits for aurora viewing, husky mushing, Yellowknife’s Snowking festival or Inuvik Sunrise Festival. Every community you visit in the Northwest Territories has its own special events and jamborees to welcome back spring.
  • June – Experience the midnight sun before the mosquitoes and horseflies hatch and miss all the tourists.
  • July and August – The time for an active summer season, when the roads are dusty but not wet and when the fish are plentiful and it’s ideal for canoeing in lakes and rivers.
  • December to March – If you can take the dipping temperature you might even want to drive some of the ice roads.

Travelling in the NWT is interrupted for a few weeks during break-up (April and May) and freeze-up (November). Check www.gov.nt.ca for current conditions.

Wildlife

Bison herd in the Northwest Territories
Wild Bison are a common sight in the Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories is one of the last great wildlife refuges on this planet with wild roaming bison herds, caribou herds, large numbers of black bears and many other wild animals.

About half of Canada’s bird species have been recorded here. You will find wilderness and naturalist opportunities in just about every corner. Almost all wilderness activities are possible when you travel.

Why visit

Travel to the Northwest Territories for wilderness and adventure, for the spectacular waterfalls and epic highways.

Go there for the summer festivals that showcase local music, dance, arts and food. Travel to this vast land for hiking, mountain climbing or whitewater rafting. Go for the amazing wildlife.

But most of all, go to meet the northern people. Their friendliness will blow your mind.

Getting there and around

Air Travel

Yellowknife is the busiest airport in the NWT and serves as a connection point for flights into other NWT communities.

Inuvik is the hub for flights into the Western Arctic with daily service from Yellowknife. Norman Wells is the hub for the Sahtu region.

  • Edmonton is the main gateway to Yellowknife and is served by various airlines.
  • Remote areas in the Northwestern Territories are best reached by air. You can book flights to most communities from Yellowknife or Inuvik.
  • About half of the Northwestern remote Communities are fly-in only. You can access these places from Yellowknife, Norman Wells and Inuvik.
  • Regular flights arrive at Yellowknife Airport from all over Canada.

Road Travel

The lonely highways take you through an unspoiled wilderness with access to campgrounds and picnic areas.

Many highways are paved and most gravel roads are well maintained. Permafrost creates dips and bumps in the roads. Therefore it is important to use caution and drive according to road conditions.

In summer, free ferries cross several rivers; in winter you can drive across on the ice.

Service stations and Visitor Information centres are located on all the major routes. Make sure to fill up your gas tank whenever you have a chance. Often, gas stations are far apart. Bring extra gasoline and a spare tire.

Additional Information:

All larger centres have car rental places. Flying in and renting a car is a good option. This way you don’t have to spend days on the road before you cross the Northwest Territories border.

Three southern highways connect to the northern routes:

  • Alberta Highway 35 north connects with NWT Highway 1 south of Hay River.
  • Coming from British Columbia, Highway 77 connects to NWT Highway 7. The Highway runs parallel to the mountains and ends in Fort Simpson.
  • Drive the Alaska Highway through the Yukon to reach the Dempster Highway near Dawson City. The Dempster takes you to the Western Arctic and ends up in Inuvik. From there you can continue on the Inuvik – Tuktoyaktuk #10 highway to as far as Tuktoyaktuk at the Arctic Ocean.

Bus Travel

There is no bus company I know of that travels to the Northwest Territories at the time of research.

Travel Resources

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of travel information available for the NWT. Even to get a good topo map is a challenge. Be aware that maps might be out of date and show gravel roads where the roads are actually paved.

Gas station showing on a map might be out of business.

On my last road trip north, I used a Garmin car GPS, which was not up to date either.

In the end, who cares driving on a paved road instead of a gravel road is nothing to get upset about.

You will find travel guides and maps for Yukon and Alaska, but there is hardly anything available for the Northwest Territories. To have a good map is crucial when you travel to remote places.

Once you cross into the NWT you will find useful brochures and maps at any NWT Visitor Centre.

The NWT Has Five Distinct Regions

South Slave

Spectacular Virginia Falls NWT
Spectacular Alexandra Falls near Enterprise, NWT

South Slave is the land of grand skies and lonesome highways, big rivers and waterfalls. Here the fish have never tasted a lure and the buffalo still run free. It is the land of modern pioneers.

The two main communities in the south are Hay River on the shores of the Great Slave Lake and Fort Smith, which is the gateway to Wood Buffalo National Park.

Most places south of Yellowknife are accessible by road, either from Yellowknife itself or by the long drive up from the Alberta.

Enterprise

Coming across the 60th Parallel from Edmonton Alberta, the first community you come to is Enterprise. Enterprise is the gateway to the South Slave, just 83 km north of the Northwest Territories border. The settlement is situated next to the Hay River canyon at the junction of Highways 1 and 2 and within hiking and biking distance of Louise and Alexandra Falls. It’s the first community North of 60 but the gas station was shut down. Your next place for gas is in Hay River.

Fort Providence

Stretching along a high bank overlooking the Mackenzie, this historic Dene village is a must-stop for road-trippers. Just five kilometres west of Highway 3, it has a large campground on the riverfront, excellent fishing. The village is known for its unique crafts –porcupine quillwork. Always keep your eyes open for bison; they walk the dusty streets and graze in local yards.

Fort Resolution

This Chipewyan and Métis town is the oldest one in the Northwest Territories. The town is located on Highway 6, where the Slave River flows into Great Slave Lake. This is one of the towns founded by the Hudson Bay Company in the 1780s. Trapping remains a key of local industries, along with commercial fishing and timber harvesting. Take a stroll along the boardwalk to Mission Island and check out its history.

Fort Smith

Fort Smith began as a trading post at a favourite campsite of the portages travelling the 2575 km water passage from Fort McMurray to the Arctic Ocean. These days, visitors arrive by scenic Highway 5, to visit Wood Buffalo National Park, paddle in the Slave’s foaming whitewater and watch the white pelicans. Walk or cycle the riverfront Thebacha Trail and check out museums, gift shops and historic sites.

Hay River

An easy day’s drive from Edmonton Alberta, Hay River is Northwest Territories “hub”-terminus of Canada’s northernmost railway. It also is the launch point for Arctic-bound barges and a key commercial fishing port. It is also Northwest Territories second largest town and it’s situated on the south shore of Great Slave Lake and boosts Northwest Territories best beach and great options for boating and fishing. Like Yellowknife, there are two parts to the town – the old town and the new, where you find most of the hotels, restaurants and government offices.

Kakisa

Kakisa is a tiny, traditional Dene settlement of log cabins nestled beside the blue waters of Kakisa Lake. It’s an easy 13 km detour from Highway 1, just up the road from the camping, fishing, paddling and sightseeing opportunities at stately Lady Evelyn Falls.
There’s a small convenience store with limited hours.

K’atl’odeeche Reserve

K’atl’odeeche is the only Northwest Territories First Nations reserve and is located on Great Slave Lake just across the river mouth from the town of Hay River. Accessible by a short ice road in winter and a 14-kilometre side-trip from Highway 2 in summer. This community is a centre of Indigenous tradition and learning. Visit the Dene Cultural Institute, where you’ll trade in your shoes for beaded moccasins and take a tour of Dene art and history.

Fort Providence

Fort Providence is a small hamlet about a third of the way between Hay River and Yellowknife. A ferry operates across the river in summer and an ice road forms in winter. Crossing the river is not possible during the months of October and November (freeze up) and between April and May (break up).

Fort Providence is a gas stop for many travelling to Yellowknife on Highway #3. Fort Providence offers accommodations and all the basic amenities The local artists are best known for their work with moose hair.

South of the community is a series of waterfalls which provide the region with some excellent sightseeing opportunities. Other activities enjoyed during the summer months include fishing, canoeing, boating, kayaking, hiking and camping.

During the winter months the roads, rivers and trails become snowmobile routes and ice roads. And some of the winter routes lead to ice fishing destinations.

Fort Providence is the getaway to the MacKenzie Bison Sanctuary.

Dehcho Region

Dehcho Region NWT
Liard Highway with the Mackenzie Mountains in the background

Dehcho is the Dene word meaning ‘Big River’ and encompasses the entire Mackenzie River basin. It’s the wild and untamed land of big waters, thundering rivers, waterfalls, and huge mountains and an abundance of wildlife. It is best known for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nahanni National Park. Virginia Falls are twice the size and height of Niagara Falls and are located in the heart of the park. The Nahanni River has the reputation to be Canada’s finest wilderness river.

The Dehcho has two car ferries. The MV Lafferty, which transports travellers across the Liard to Fort Simpson, and the MV Johnny Berens, traversing the Mackenzie en route to Wrigley.

Fort Liard

Fort Liard is 785 km south of Yellowknife along the Mackenzie Highway and the Liard Trail and 37 km north of the BC/NWR border. This is a great place to fill your gas tank, buy some exquisite Dene arts and crafts. Birchbark baskets are the local specialty. Enjoy a walk on the banks of the river.

Fort Simpson

Fort Simpson is the Gateway to the Nahanni National Park Reserve or surrounding mountains and has a unique small-town atmosphere. The village is located on the Liard River and the massive Mackenzie. If you decide to stay in town for a while, there is plenty to do. Visit the riverfront heritage sites, the nine-hole golf course, or check out the exhibits at the visitor centre. Experience the Dene culture, booke a flight to Virginia Falls, or launch a canoe into the mighty Mackenzie River (the Dene name is Dehcho).

Access is via air or highway 1 (except when breakup and freeze-up halt ferry and ice-road service across the Liard).

Jean Marie River

This tiny Dene settlement started as a trading post in 1915. It is located on the flats where Jean Marie meets the Mackenzie. Today the community can be reached via a 27 km access road off highway 1. It’s the perfect place to picnic at the river, photograph the historic tugboat now retired onshore, or launch a kayak or canoe for a paddle downriver to Fort Simpson.

Nahanni Butte

This small Dene community is named after the mountain guarding over it and it is picturesquely situated where the South Nahanni River pours into the Liard. The community features a unique log church and a log school.

During the summer the settlement is accessible by river taxi (call ahead), or in winter across the ice road across the Liard.

Trout Lake

Situated on the sandy shores of its namesake lake, this quiet, traditional Dene village is famous for its fishing. Townsfolk run the nearby Saamba K’e Fishing Lodge, featuring log cabins and excellent angling for trout, pickerel and pike. The community is accessible by aircraft in summer or by a 126-kilometre ice road off Highway 1 in winter.

Wrigley

Wrigley is the northernmost Dehcho Dene community, a small log-cabin settlement sitting on a high bluff overlooking the Mackenzie River. Tucked into the Franklin Mountains, it’s scenic and serene, with a traditional lifestyle revolving around trapping, hunting and fishing. Access is by highway 1, which rolls through the foothills north from Fort Simpson and crosses the Mackenzie by ferry or ice road (except during break/freeze-up.

Sahtu Region

The place where the road ends and real life begins. Sahtu is mountainous country and not accessible by car during winter. The frantic outside world has not arrived yet, and possibly never will. The Mackenzie flows through here and is at many sections 2 km wide. The area is suitable for hiking and paddling.

Colville Lake

This traditional log-cabin village is located 50 km north of the Arctic Circle, on a lake of the same name, and is northeast of Norman Wells. It dates from 1962 when the Hareskin Dene began to settle around the new “Our Lady of the Snow mission. Today visitors can tour the mission and the small museum/gallery, fish for trout, grayling and pike. Access is by air only and in winter by ice road.

Déljne

This culturally lively community is home to the only residents of Great Bear Lake, Canada’s biggest domestic lake, legendary for big fish and pure waters. The town also claims to be the birthplace of ice hockey: the first documented game was said to have been played by Sir John Franklin’s men when they overwintered here in the 1820s. Today, local guides will take you fishing and teach you about the area’s rich traditions and the environment. Access is by air and, in winter, by ice road.

Fort Good Hope

Fort Good Hope is located on a peninsula between Jackfish Creek and the east bank of the Mackenzie River, just upstream from where the river squeezes through the towering limestone chute of The Ramparts. The distance between Fort Good Hope and Norman Wells is about 145 km. This Dene village has deep roots in fishing, hunting and trapping. It is also home to the oldest building in the Northwest Territories. The Our Lady of Good Hope Church was built in 1865 and is now a national historic site. Access is by air from Norman Wells or in winter by ice road up the Mackenzie Valley.

Norman Wells

The remote village of Norman Wells is located in the Mackenzie Valley, 330 km north of Wrigley (on the Mackenzie Highway). Is a historic oil town. In 1789, explorer Alexander Mackenzie reported oil seeping from the riverbanks. Today pump jacks and storage tanks are plenty.

The town has several hotels and restaurants, a campground, and a couple of interesting museums. This makes it a great place to explore before heading out to the mountain rivers or the Canol Trail, known as one of the most challenging trails in Canada. The rugged Canol Heritage Trail follows an oil pipeline used during the Second World War which was shut down shortly afterwards. Today, the Canol Trail lets you explore the north on foot. This trail is only for the brave and adventurous. Plan for three weeks for the complete trail.

Tulit’a

Where the broad Mackenzie meets the clear-running Bear River is the village of Tulit’a, occupied by the Mountain Dene. It first became a formal settlement with the establishment of the trading post in 1869. The Mackenzie Mountains tower across the river. Access is and in winter by winter road from Wrigley.

Western Arctic

Northwest Territories - Inuvik

Starting near Dawson City, Yukon, the Dempster is Canada’s northernmost highway, a 740 km gravel road stretching all the way to Inuvik, which is part of the Western Arctic.

Getting to the Western Arctic is a unique adventure. The region includes the Mackenzie Delta, the Richardson Mountains and various islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelagos. Here you find National parks, small Aboriginal communities and last but not least the city of Inuvik at the end of the magnificent Dempster Highway.

Aklavik

Aklavik is a Gwich’in, Inuvialuit and Métis town on the western flank of the Mackenzie Delta, near the Richardson Mountains. The town once was the region’s administrative centre. When the locals were ordered to move to Inuvik, many refused. Don’t miss the grave of the Mad Trapper, the mysterious backwoods killer who led Mounties on one of the greatest manhunts.

Access is by air only or in winter via the ice road from Inuvik.

Fort McPherson

Fort McPherson is the first community you get to when driving north on the Dempster. The friendly Gwich’in town is located in the rolling Richardson foothills along the Peel River, which is a popular paddling route. Visit the famous Tent and Canvas shop and don’t miss the graves of the Lost Patrol, the four Mounties who died en route to Dawson City in the awful winter of 1911.

Stop in at the Gwich’in interpretive centre at Nitainlaii Territorial Park.

Northwest Territories - Fort McPherson

Inuvik

Inuvik is Northwest Territories regional hub, a vibrant mix of Inuvialuit, Gwich’in and non-Native residents, located along the easternmost channel of the Mackenzie Delta. Here you find plenty of hotels, restaurants, galleries and a variety of tour operators.

Access is by air or via the iconic Dempster Highway. Once you made it on the Dempster to Inuvik, spend a couple of days to explore the town before heading out on Northwest Territories newest highway to Tuktoyaktuk. In winter you can take an ice road from Inuvik to the hamlet of Aklavik.

Paulatuk

Paulatuk is a small, traditional Inuvialuit community with deep roots in hunting, trapping and Arctic Char fishing. It is also a base camp for trips to Tuktut Nogait National Park, the Cape Parry Bird Sanctuary and the Smoking Hills, a perpetually burning coal seam. Access is by air only from Inuvik.

Sachs Harbour (Ikaahuk)

This is the Northwest Territories most northern community. The tiny Inuvialuit settlement is located on the treeless southwestern coast of Banks Island in the High Arctic. It is the and the only outpost on Banks Island and on most maps, the settlement doesn’t show. Banks Island is a wildlife haven and is home to more than half of the world’s muskoxen.

Aulavik National Park is located on the Island, with bird sanctuaries and the famous HMS Investigator shipwreck. It is a good possibility to find a few hybrid polar bear/grizzlies here. Access to Sachs Harbour is across the river by ferry in summer and ice road in winter.

Tsiigehtchic

Originally a Gwich’in summer fishing camp, Tsiigehtchic is now home to the Gwich’in people and has a population of around 200 people. This cozy village is a must -top for Dempster Highway travellers, who can walk along the riverbanks and stop in at the new visitor centre.

Some people come here by accident because they don’t realize that it has three points. the ferry connects the Dempster Highway on either side of the Mackenzie River and also crosses the Arctic Red River to stop in Tsiigehtchic.

Tuktoyaktuk

Tuk is Canada’s favourite Arctic town and is the largest town above the treeline, reaching into the Arctic Ocean. Over the years it has been a base for Inuvialuit caribou and beluga hunting, as well as a DEW line radar site, and a centre of oil and gas exploration.

Visitors come to Tuktoyaktuk mainly to tour the nearby pingo hills, and of course to cool their feet in the chilly sea. Make sure to taste some traditional food (like muktuk) while you are in the area. Access is by air and since November 2017 by brand new highway 10.

Ulukhaktok

Ulukhaktok is another small Inuvialuit community which is not shown on most maps. The hamlet is formerly known as Holman, and the community wraps around the head of an Arctic inlet on the west coast of Victoria Island. It was founded as a Roman Catholic mission in the 1930s. Ulukhaktok is famous for the world’s northernmost golf course (hosting the Billy Joss Open Celebrity Tournament each summer) and for exquisite Inuit prints. Access is by air from Inuvik and Yellowknife.

North Slave Region

The area between Great Slave Lake and the Great Bear Lake is very rocky with many lakes and is rich in minerals. Apart from Yellowknife, most of the Tlicho First Nations live here in their traditional way, and not because of tourists or money being made.

North Slave is the place where you can see the new and the old Norths, where people live in both worlds.

Behchoko

Also known as “Fort Rae” or “Rae-Edzo,” the NWT’s largest Dene community occupies two sites along Frank’s Channel. Orderly Edzo was supposed to replace more
traditional Rae, a 10-kilometre detour from Highway 3 on the shores of Marian Lake, but most residents refused to leave. Today Behchokò˛ is the seat of the new Tłįcho˛ Self-Government and a gateway to Great Slave Lake’s island-studded North Arm.
Groceries, gas and lodging can be found here.

Detah

This is one of two Yellowknife’s Dene settlements on the outskirts of Yellowknife. The idyllic village occupies an enviable spot on the rolling shield-rock at the mouth of Yellowknife Bay. In winter you can drive, ski or walk here on the six-kilometre
ice road from Old Town, while in summer it’s a worthwhile 27 km by bike or car. Look for huskies howling, whitefish drying on racks and moose hides being tanned.

Gameti

This placid village got its start in the 1970s when Tłįcho˛ Dene founded a traditional settlement on the point between Rae Lake and Lac Ste. Croix, halfway between Great Bear and Great Slave. In summer it’s typically reached by plane from Yellowknife, while in winter it’s an adventurous 213-kilometre trip via ice road. Grayling fishing, lake tours, and local crafts await visitors. Intrepid wilderness paddlers sometimes set out from here en route to Behchokò on Highway 3.

Lutselk’e

This traditional Chipewyan village is the only settlement on Great Slave Lake’s fish-filled, cliff-cradled East Arm – site of the proposed new Thaidene Nene National Park. The scenic community is accessible only by air, boat or snowmobile, and is an ideal jumping-off point for angling and paddling trips in Christie and McLeod Bays and over Pike’s Portage into the muskox- and caribou-rich Barrenlands.

N’Dilo

Before gold-miners flooded Yellowknife in the ’30s, First Nations people used Latham Island as a hunting-and-fishing base, near to Back Bay, Yellowknife Bay and Weledeh – the Yellowknife River. These days, the southern half of Latham Island is part of eclectic Old Town, but the northern half remains a colourful Indigenous enclave, home to cultural events and great access to the lake.

Wekweeti

This smallest, most remote Tłįcho˛ Dene community occupies a gorgeous setting on the Snare River as it weaves through sandy, rolling shield-country on the cusp of the treeline.
No other settlement is so close to the herds of caribou that move through the Barrenlands, nor to the diamond mines that are the Northwest Territories economic engine. Fishing and hiking here are ideal. Access is by air and, during some winters, ice road.

Whati

A quick flight away from Yellowknife or a scenic 125-kilometre drive on ice road from Behchokò, this Tłįcho˛ Dene community is set on the shore of huge, pristine Lac La Martre. The town is known for its monster pike and trout fishing, and for its migratory birdlife. Less well known is the stunning Whatì Waterfall – two thundering spillways with fine grayling fishing in the rapids below.

Yellowknife

Yellowknife- Northwestern Territories

The Northwest Territories capital Yellowknife has it all: high rise hotels and lakefront campsites, shore-fried fish and black-tie cuisine, backwoods trails and symphony performances. The city receives direct flights from Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Whitehorse and Iqaluit, and is the air travel hub to the rest of the Northwest Territories and much of Nunavut. In winter, it’s the world’s Aurora-tourism mecca; in summer, it’s all about fishing, boating and hiking beneath the midnight sun.

Northern Lights

The spectacle of the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis is listed among the planet’s greatest natural wonders. This is truly an experience you will never forget when you watch the sky become a living picture of colours. No wonder why people come here from all over the world to catch the show.

Winter is the time to see the lights

National Parks

The Northwest Territories is home to five national parks (soon to be six). Here you find the most untrammelled places on the planet with wild rivers, large peaks, great waterfalls and wild animals abound – muskoxen, caribou, grizzlies, bison, you name it.

No matter whether you’re waiting for a herd of bison to make way for your car in Wood Buffalo National Park, or ascending an unnamed, unclimbed peak in Nááts’ihch’oh, you’ll be experiencing the world in its perfect form

Territorial Parks and Campgrounds

The Northwest Territories has a large network of campgrounds and day-use areas to experience the natural wonders and make travelling easy. All campgrounds are at convenient locations along the scenic highway routes.

Most of the campgrounds have powered sites and space for RVs, some have boat launch facilities and most offer drinking water, showers and firewood. Don’t forget to bring your axe.

Quick Facts about the campgrounds

  • Camping Fees – Tent pads: $15 per night, non-powered sites $22.50/night, powered sites $28/night, Fred Henne powered $32/night
  • Opening and closing dates vary. Check NWTParks.ca for updates.
  • Dempster Highway Route Parks – June 1 – September 1
  • Other Parks – Approximately mid-May – mid – September
  • Some parks have a maximum stay of 14 days during peak season (June 15 – August 15)
  • Try to reserve your site during peak season for Fred Henne in Yellowknife. Locals rent all the sites on weekends.
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