9 Exciting Things to Do in Nahanni National Park

Nahanni National Park

Nahanni National Park is situated along the South Nahanni River, among the most breathtaking wild rivers in North America. It has a distinctive limestone cave network in addition to deep gorges and enormous waterfalls.

The Nahanni National Park Reserve has a unique terrain. It is situated in the southwest corner of the territory and is a natural wonderland cut by vast waterways and punctuated by peaks. It’s a fascinating and beautiful site. It is nature at its most expansive. 

Nahanni was among the first parks to be recognized as a World Heritage site, alongside Yellowstone and remained unaffected by seismic lines or highways.

Nahanni is full of myths about missing treasure, murder, and headless men. There are also lighter tales about tropical gardens and Dene spirits that live in the hot springs and tufa mounds of the river valley.

The park, which stretches across over seven million acres of nature, is formed by mountains, ice fields, boreal forests, and alpine tundra along the Continental Divide that divides the Northwest Territories from the Yukon.

Visitors should be ready for extremes because the environment is chilly and highly unpredictable.

With temperatures often ranging from 0°C to 30°C in July and August, frost is a possibility at night as the season comes to a close. In September, the river starts to ice over.

Here Are 9 Exciting Things to Do in Nahanni National Park:

1. Paddling and Canoeing in The South Nahanni River

Before joining the Liard River, a tributary of the Mackenzie, in Nahanni Butte, the Nahanni River passes through the Mackenzie, Selwyn, and Franklin Mountains.

The river travels through beautiful waterfalls, breathtaking gorges, and scorching mineral springs, the heat of which fosters the growth of vegetation that is rare for these climates.

The 200-kilometre journey to the Nahanni River from Nahanni Butte to Virginia Falls, which includes a 200-meter elevation shift, is an incredible outdoor adventure.

Only those with previous experience on whitewater should attempt to canoe this challenging section. The park authorities need to issue a permit.

The river separates into a variety of “splits” in the first stretch, which is around 80 kilometres upstream from Nahanni Butte.

Here, remarkable flora like roses, ferns, and wild cherries flourish on earth that never freezes, in sulphurous hot springs that are about 37 degrees Celsius.

After passing through Deadmen Valley and the towering, 1,200-meter-high walls of the initial canyon, the river then slashes into the second canyon, which is even higher.

The river turns 90 degrees through “The Gate” to a third canyon, where the imposing Pulpit Rock stands watch. Just after the fourth canyon, the river eventually rounds a curve to deliver a stunning, breathtaking encounter with the legendary Virginia Falls.

Beyond the canyons are the frothing torrents of Hell’s Gate.

The South Nahanni River is too skilled for paddlers what Mountain Everest is to mountain climbers, magnificent, and magical. Although the river might not be the most challenging in the world, it is also not for the weak of the heart.

It plunges down a sequence of four breathtaking gorges, creating hard torrents, whirlpools, and boils with names like Lafferty’s Riffle and Tricky Current.

Up until early June, and occasionally even later, the South Nahanni is experiencing severe spring flooding. The best time to visit is between June and August because it is not advisable to travel after the end of August due to the potential of severe weather.

 2.  Climbing

With good cause, Nahanni has always been a favourite climbing location. The granite spires that protrude from the ground offer difficult courses, all backed by breathtaking views.

The Ragged Range of the Mackenzie Mountains is the main climbing region. In the realm of climbing, the Lotus Flower Tower is among the most coveted climbs to bag, and the Cirque of the Unclimbables is iconic.

Mountaineers from all over the world come to the Ragged Range of the Mackenzie Mountains to climb granite routes and contemplate the loneliness of this remote, unspoiled area.

Depending on your budget, you can either reach the base area directly by helicopter or by combining a float aircraft and hiking.

3. Fishing

The fishing chances in the Nahanni National Park Reserve must not be disregarded, despite the fact that many visitors concentrate on paddling.

Don’t miss the chance to wet a line, whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice. Because there is less fishing pressure up here, fish grow to unbelievable sizes and are plentiful and simple to catch.

Walleye, Arctic grayling, dolly varden, and bull trout are among the species found in the North Nahanni River and Mackenzie River. Whitefish, pike, and lake trout are available in CLI Lake.

The average weight of the fish in CLI Lake is ten pounds. Anyone entering Nahanni National Park Reserve with the intention of sport fishing is required to have a current Nahanni National Park Reserve Fishing Permit.

Fishing is allowed all year round and in all Nahanni National Park Reserve waters. There is a daily maximum catch and ownership limit of five fish.

The following lakes should also be taken into account, despite their challenging access:

  • Little Doctor
  • Hole-in-the-Wall
  • Rabbitkettle
  • Glacier.

4. Explore Virginia Falls

Virginia Falls is twice the height as Niagara Falls and plunges 90 meters into a crater of foam surrounded by rocks in a spectacular environment.

A path leads canoeists from the Albert Faille Portage, which passes the waterfall, to the cataract’s rim, where they may enjoy a stunning view of this amazing natural phenomenon.

Travellers of all ages can get into Virginia Falls, but river adventures should only be taken by experienced paddlers or those who are travelling with authorized outfitters.

5. Flightseeing

Except for the most intrepid trekkers, many stunning areas of the park are inaccessible due to Nahanni’s rugged magnificence.

A flightseeing adventure over the park is the ideal method to explore these areas.

The following are some examples of typical tours:

  • Two to three hours for a scenic tour of Virginia Falls from above;
  • five to six hours with two stops for Virginia Falls;
  • and six to eight hours for an expanded view that includes Glacier Lake.

A Cessna 206 floatplane or a helicopter is used for tours.

There are also trips that focus solely on Glacier Lake. You’ll likely travel in the same aircraft as climbers en route to the rocky summits of Cirque of the Unclimbables on these flights.

 6.  Hiking

Since the greatest routes begin along rivers, river tours are frequently paired with hiking excursions.

The park lacks permanent, clearly defined, and well-maintained paths; instead, it mostly has routes through the forest that have developed over time into something resembling a route.

The trails that ascend Sheaf Creek or Ram Creek to the breathtaking Tl’ogotsho Plateau are among the most famous. Partnering with local outfitters will let you organize a trip into the bush on your own.

The abovementioned Fairy Meadows, Tl’ogotsho Plateau, and Vampire Peaks are among the destinations. Take into account resting at the North Nahanni Naturalist Lodge for a more planned hike.

There are options for day visits as well as multi-day expeditions supported by helicopters to some of the more secluded and breathtaking regions of the park, such as the Ram Plateau and the Nahanni Karsts

7. Visiting Rabitkettle Hotsprings

On a limestone plateau, two sizable travertine mounds make up Rabbitkettle Hot Springs. Owing to the tufa deposits, the springs, which are warmer than hot at 21° C, are not open to the public.

Visitors who do desire to visit must be guided by park employees, who lead guided tours twice daily in July and August. The distance from Rabbitkettle Lake to the park cabins is 3.5 kilometres one way.

8. Exploring Flora and Fauna

Among the 42 species of mammals are the Arctic ground squirrel, Grizzly bears, Timber Wolves, Black Bears, Moose, Shrew, Mountain Caribou, Lynx, Trumpeter Swans, River Otters, and Upland Sandpipers.

Bald and golden eagles, American kestrels, loons, sharp-shinned hawks, trumpeter swans, and red-necked grebes are just a few of the 180 bird species. The whooping crane’s sole known nesting location is also included.

Burbot, Arctic grayling, lake trout, lake whitefish, lake chub, longnose dace, mountain whitefish, round whitefish, northern pike, spoonhead sculpin, and spot tail shiner are among the fish found in the park.

The wide variety of soils provides a number of unique and specialized ecosystems. The park has a greater variety of vascular plants than any other place in the NWT, with more than 700 species, as well as 300 kinds of bryophytes and lichen.

Only here in the Park, you can find the extremely uncommon Nahanni aster species.

9. Learn about Nahanni Butte Community 

For thousands of years, the Nahanni Butte Community has inhabited and utilized the Nahanni environment. Nahanni Butte’s locals and Parks Canada collaborate closely to give tourists unmatched insights into Dene’s history and culture.

One mile upstream from the confluence of the Liard and Nahanni rivers is Nahanni Butte, where Dene guides give informative walks through the neighbourhood to introduce visitors to the village’s history and way of life.

In the End

These were the 9 Exciting things to do in Nahanni National park. The main draws in Nahanni National Park Reserve nowadays are weeklong canoeing, hiking, rafting, fishing, and kayaking excursions.

Let us know your experience when you visit this amazing place!

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Pooja Thakur

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