This is the Land of the Midnight Sun and the Aurora Borealis. An incredibly vast and awesomely beautiful region, it became two separate territories in 1999. The eastern lands are known as Nunavut. The western region, home to Dene, Inuvialuit, and other northerners from around the world, is still called the Northwest Territories.
Starkly beautiful, powerful and immense, our northern world is still wild and pristine. Nature rules here, in a diversity of landscapes ranging from towering mountains to rolling tundra, and from seacoast to boggy lowlands and boreal forests.
The NWT’s treasures include several of Canada’s greatest rivers, biggest lakes and most important National Parks. Rare wildlife roams free, and millions of birds migrate through the Mackenzie Valley. Aboriginal tradition thrives in communities built on a rich fur-trade, exploration and mining heritage. Small and widely scattered, they’re linked by roads, rivers or bush airlines that converge on our bustling Capital, Yellowknife.
The Arctic Red River (Tsiighnjik) offers limitless wilderness experiences to adventurers ready to take on the challenge of this wild land. Unlike many mountain rivers, the Arctic Red flows placidly for much of its course. Its valley, framed by high mountains, provides rich habitat for Dall’s sheep, caribou, grizzly bear and peregrine falcon. The river’s watershed is homeland for the Gwich’in people. At its confluence with the Mackenzie is the village of Arctic Red River (Tsiightchic). Once the site of a Roman Catholic mission, it is now a native community where ancient traditions of living with the land blend with modern lifestyles.
Just beyond the 60th Parallel, there’s a world of discovery and adventure in the South Slave region, a forested land carved by turbulent rivers and bounded by the south shore of Great Slave Lake. Drive our well maintained highways to see Wood Bison, migratory birds and spectacular waterfalls. This is ideal country for outdoor fun – paddling, cycling, hiking, fishing and camping. The vast splendour of Wood Buffalo National Park awaits. Kayak the Slave River’s wild rapids, or take it easy at a lodge in the wilderness. Delve into Aboriginal history and traditions at our museums and cultural centres. At Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park, discover Alexandra and Louise Falls (Hatta Deh Naili), a place of spiritual power for the Dene.
Hugging the rugged north shore of Great Slave Lake, Northern Frontier region is the home of the Dogrib First Nations, Canadian Arctic Diamonds, and Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories. It’s a potent mix of tradition and sophistication, set in a rolling wilderness of multicoloured rock, sparkling lakes and rivers and forest on a human scale. In summer, lakes and fish, trails and wildlife beckon. In fall and winter the enormous night sky fills with Aurora Borealis, thrilling visitors from half a world away. Visit Dogrib communities via scheduled flights or drive the highway, to see and experience the wilderness first hand with Dene guides. Or choose big ciity amenities – a fine museum, legislature buiding and galleries offering art from across the north. Yellowknife is the jumping off point for air travel through much of the Northwest Territories, and there’s a range of air. land and water packages in Northern Frontier to suit almost every skill and interest.
The Dene call the broad Mackenzie River Deh Cho, “big river”. Starting at Great Slave Lake, Deh Cho travels through 1800 km of unspoiled wilderness to the Beaufort Sea, gathering waters from the Peace-Athabasca, the Slave, the South Nahanni, the Liard and countless more. The Deh Cho region surrounds the upper section of this great river, and many of its tributaries. Follow the sweep of the river on our highways through boreal plains and woodlands to the western mountains and Nahanni country. Expect the extraordinary in our remarkable Deh Cho wilderness. Visit a log-built naturalist lodge on a mountain lake, or take a day-trip to Nahanni National Park. Tackle a wild river or just go for a walk to pick berries. Experienced pilots and outfitting companies can take you where you want to go, and Slavey Dene and Metis families will beguile you with stories of this remarkable land.
The wildest of our regions, the rugged Sahtu is dominated to the west by mountain ranges and to the east by Great Bear Lake. Between, the broad Mackenzie River flows through some of its most spectacular scenery, on its way to the Arctic. Tour the Sahtu by jet boat, or by scheduled or charter aircraft. Experienced hikers can challenge the unforgiving Canol Trail. The fishing’s superb on Great Bear, or at remote Colville Lake. For sheer adventure paddle the Mountain River or the Natla Keele on a guided trip.
Drive north of the Arctic Circle to Inuvik, on the Mackenzie Delta, the busy heart of the sprawling Western Arctic region. This is the homeland of the Inuvialuit, people of the coast, and the Gwich’in, whose traditional territory stretches west into Alaska. Tourism, traditional culture and oil and gas fuel the economy, and jet service links the Western Arctic to the south. Drive the Dempster to our highway communities. To reach our Delta and coastal communities you fly over the awesome Mackenzie Delta, a vast refuge for migratory birds and wildlife and the ice choked Beaufort Sea. See the largest concentration of ice-cored Pingos in the world, or visit some of Canada’s newest and most remote National Parks where muskoxen and caribou roam free.