Nahanni National Park is located in the southwest of the Northwest Territories province in northern Canada. The Mackenzie Mountains and the South Nahanni River with its unique, wild water course belong to it. The Nahanni National Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. No roads lead into the remote wilderness of the animal-rich park with wolves, grizzly bears and caribou. The only way to get to the park is by boat or seaplane from Fort Simpson. The South Nahanni River with its deep canyons and the rushing Virginia Falls is an ideal area for breathtaking white water rafting. With a depth of over ninety meters, the falls are twice as deep as the Niagara Falls. After the first canyon, canoeists can enjoy a pleasant, 30 degrees Celsius warm bath at the Kraus Hotsprings. In the Nahanni National Park, the dream of relaxing seclusion, crackling campfires and the proximity of wild animals comes true.
By plane and boat to the protected natural paradise
The gateway to the national park with its 4,766 square kilometers is Fort Simpson, a settlement on a river island. Fort Simpson can be reached from Canada via the Mackenzie Highway or from Europe via Edmonton Province Alberta Airport and a connecting flight. Fort Simpson Heritage Park gives an insight into the world of fur traders. With the Gold Rush, the fur hunters received stiff competition from the gold prospectors. In order to be able to visit the Nahanni National Park, which was established in 1976 near the border with the Yukon Province, you have to be registered six months in advance to be on the safe side, as no more than approx. 24 people are allowed to visit the park per day. So the protection of the last great natural paradises is guaranteed. The area of the national park was never covered by glaciers. This geological peculiarity and the hot springs lead, in contrast to the other areas of the Northwest Territories, to a vegetation with ferns and orchid species, as well as a mild climate. The ideal time to visit Nahanni National Park is from early June to late September.
Whitewater rafting through the canyons of the South Nahanni River
A rafting tour, for example, can take off after landing with the seaplane on the South Nahanni River, above the Virginia Falls. The warlike people of the Naha, who are considered the ancestors of the Navajo Indians, gave the South Nahanni River, the white water river, its name. With its thousand meters deep gorge and many rapids, it is considered to be white water. Legendary stories entwine around him. The Nahanni National Park with four canyons lies on both sides of the river. At “The Gate”, a unique rock formation, the river has drilled its way through the rock. South of Mount Wilson, the Nahanni River, which rises in the Mackenzie Mountains, reaches the national park. There are the “Rabbitkettle Hotspring” hot water springs.
On the South Nahanni River there are some rapids to go through by boat. The most challenging is about 25 miles below the Virginia Falls. Later the river meanders through the Canadian tundra. Here you can find herds of caribou, North American reindeer with shovel-like antlers. Many canoe trips end at Fort Liard in the beautiful valley of the Liard River, surrounded by the Nahanni Mountains.
Nahanni National Park Reserve – conservation of wilderness for animals and humans
Nahanni Wildlife Park is 600 kilometers west of the capital, Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories. It is a “National Park Reserve”. The addition of “reserve” to the name means that only the indigenous people are allowed to hunt and fish here. The South Nahanni River is considered to be one of the most beautiful rivers in the world. Its rapids, or “rapids”, are classified as Class 2 and 3. They require the canoeist to have appropriate experience. Before going through the rapids, whitewater riders must register with Park Warden, the park ranger outside the national park, before starting the tour.
Another unique experience is a “heli-hiking trip.” Visitors can experience an extraordinary fishing tour in the Mackenzie Mountains by helicopter with a wilderness guide. In general, it is advisable to be accompanied by an experienced guide for the breathtaking voyages of discovery in the Nahanni National Park. Thanks to the knowledge of the guides, you will meet wolves, grizzlies, caribou and Dall sheep in the mountain ranges at a safe distance.
Did you know that …
- the area of the Nahanni National Park superimposes two important eco-zones – the taiga prairie in the east and the taiga mountains in the west – and touches the boreal mountain eco-zone in the south?
- go down a series of river canyons in Nahanni National Park over 1200m?
- Nahanni National Park is home to a variety of wildlife? Mountain goats, wolves, brown bears and grizzly bears belong to this group.
- 42 species of mammals are registered in Nahanni National Park?
- Elk are the ungulates most common in Nahanni National Park and the most widely distributed?
- 180 bird species are documented in Nahanni National Park, 21% of which remain in the north all year round?
- the park has a richer variety of vegetation than any other area of comparable size in the continental Northwest Territories?
- the Virginia Falls in Nahanni National Park fall spectacularly 92m? That’s twice as high as Niagara Falls.
- there are relatively few lakes in Nahanni National Park? The four largest lakes cover 61 to 345 hectares, all others are smaller with less than 25 hectares.
- both brown bears and grizzly bears have a home in Nahanni National Park?