Who Can Canoe the Nahanni River?

The Nahanni is a big river with powerful currents, boils and challenging whitewater. So who can canoe the Nahanni River?
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Many people dream of one day canoeing the Nahanni River in Canada’s Northwest Territories – and rightfully so. The Nahanni is a true Canadian wilderness river icon. It’s situated in a mountainous landscape and flows through Canada’s deepest river canyons, past hot springs and geological features so unique that the Nahanni River was declared the first World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1978.

The Nahanni is a mecca for wilderness travellers. However, the Nahanni is a big river with powerful currents, boils and challenging whitewater. So who can canoe the Nahanni River?

We make it possible for any skill level to experience the Nahanni

Our raft expeditions on the Nahanni are suitable for novices – no experience needed! While enjoying a rafting trip on the Nahanni you will still have the opportunity to try out a canoe, as we bring an inflatable canoe on each trip to share among the group for the flat, moving water sections. You can also rent your own dedicated inflatable canoe or kayak.

We’ve developed a couple of options that allow people without advanced whitewater skills to still canoe the Nahanni River:

  • One option is to join either our 8-day or 12-day Nahanni trips that combine expeditions rafts with canoes. You can canoe most of the river, including smaller rapids and swift moving water. In the big whitewater, we can attach the canoes to the rafts, and you enjoy the comfort and safety of our large expeditions rafts as we navigate the more challenging whitewater.
  • Another option is to use our “canyon rig” strategy. Above the rapids, we catamaran the canoes together in pairs, which means you have greater stability while going for the biggest waves. On the flatter sections, we disassemble the rigs and canoe conventionally.
A group of paddlers above a set of rapids, with their canoes connected to make a catamaran to provide stability through larger rapids.

Listen to Neil Hartling talk about how we make canoeing the Nahanni more accessible

In this short video, Rapid Media’s Scott MacGregor talks with Neil Hartling of Nahanni River Adventures on how to make your dream of paddling the Nahanni River a reality.

Nahanni River Canoe Trips That Can Accommodate Novice Paddlers

Canyon Kingdom One Week Trip
A Nahanni River experience is on every paddler’s “bucket list.” Limited time? You can still enjoy the iconic features of this world-renowned river.

Canyon Kingdom 12-Day Trip
Experience the legendary Nahanni River on an extended trip. Take the extra time to fully savour all of the Nahanni’s iconic features.

Flatwater Canoeing to Virginia Falls
The perfect way for novice canoeists to experience the legendary Nahanni River.

Nahanni River Canoe Trips That Require More Advanced Skills

Two Week Canoe Adventure
Beginning with two days of flat water and mountains above Virginia Falls, you canoe from Rabbitkettle Lake to the confluence with the Liard River, this trip is considered a classic for adventurous paddlers.

3-Week Moose Ponds Expedition
Canoe the legendary Nahanni from its headwaters – an exhilarating and Class III whitewater adventure for expert whitewater paddlers.

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