Canoe the Canadian North

We lead fully guided canoe journeys on world-class rivers in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Spectacular canoe journeys on the most iconic rivers in Northern Canada. Wildlife, hiking & stories.

Our experienced and knowledgeable guides go far beyond the typical canoe trip in sharing with you hidden secrets and lore, including flora, fauna and unique phenomena. We spare no expense treating you to the absolute best canoeing adventures with expert, knowledgeable guides, fresh cuisine and the best equipment.

legendary northern descents

The rivers we paddle are conduits for exploring some of the last wild places in North America.

These wilderness rivers comprise the list of legendary northern descents of which all paddlers dream.

Why Choose Us?

We understand our guests are looking for a once in a lifetime experience, with a treasure trove of great stories to take home.  Our job to make that happen, and we take that responsibility seriously – without cutting corners. Words like average and good enough just aren’t in our vocabulary. All of our efforts add up to the best experience and greatest value.

Our reputation speaks for itself

More than 40% of our guests each year are repeat guests or were referred by a past traveler.

"This was the adventure of a lifetime. From start to finish, from desk to raft, the personnel and organization were flawless; this is particularly impressive given the complexity of the enterprise. I am left with the sense that everyone in the outfit, the guides in particular, were genuinely motivated to provide us with a rich and memorable experience. The Nahanni is beyond beautiful and Nahanni River Adventures has given us a genuine gift in immersing us in it in this fashion. Thanks!"
Richard Condit
"The integrity of the guides, is unparalleled; their ability to guide us down the river and then become gracious chefs, make amazing meals is remarkable. After a great day on the river, sitting at our camp site, gazing at spectacular scenery and enjoying sumptuous meals made for one of our best trips EVER."
Louise Klatzel-Mudry
"Every part of this river trip met and exceeded my expectations! From the beautiful Alsek river and surrounding land, to the guides who were so open to sharing their knowledge of the area and their fantastic cooking, to the other guests who where so helpful and open. As a single person wanting to travel and explore the Yukon and all its beauty I can’t recommend this trip enough. It was beautiful in every way!"
Laura Ringer

What you can expect from us

What sets us apart from other adventure companies? Passion, expertise and – most importantly – attention to the special details. 

Low ratio of guides to guest

Experience has taught us that one of the most important factors for a high-quality and safe adventure is the ratio of staff to guests – we operate with one guide per four guests maximum.

Value

The north is not a mass-market destination ­– thank goodness! It’s not the cheapest region to visit, but the experiences found here are like nothing else in the world.

Knowledge

It’s our goal to have the most consistently knowledgeable staff in areas of local interpretation, such as: Flora and fauna, Geology and geomorphology, Human history, Unique details, stories, features of each region.

Safe travels

We maintain the highest standards for river safety and we are proud to have a reputation for excellence in this area. We employ comprehensive and well-rehearsed emergency procedures and trip contingency planning in line with wilderness camping experiences.

Your Experience

Imagine the “land of the midnight sun”, a country of diverse land forms, wild flowers and new delights to the eye, every day. Imagine rivers that flow through these lands in a sinuous manner, serving as a conveyor to move you from one delightful experience to the next. Imagine rewarding hikes, with a range of distances to choose, to pick the one that’s right for you.

Your adventure begins before you even make it to the river

After meeting your guides and fellow travellers at the rendezvous point, you will make your way to the river. This usually requires a charter aircraft to fly in, out or both. The flights take you over truly spectacular wilderness. Have your camera handy for the flight!

Relax, you’re in great hands

Our talented wilderness guides deliver our trips with an authenticity that mirrors the unspoiled wilderness we travel through. Their passion for living, learning and teaching regional geology, wildlife and history is matched only by their sense of adventure, paddling skills, and leadership acumen.

Each day of your river journey will be memorable and will inspire stories to tell your friends for years to come.

Your time on the river each day will vary, leaving plenty of time for other pursuits such as hiking, fishing, and photography. Many trips have one or more “lay-over” days when we stay put and enjoy camping two nights in a particular spot.

You’ll be fed meal after meal of impossibly fresh food, all prepared with a portable camp kitchen and open fire.

The crowning touch of our river journeys are the meals. Forget those old images of freeze dried backpackers fare. At the end of an active day in the fresh mountain air, you deserve to be rewarded by the aroma and taste of a great meal with fresh ingredients, perhaps with a wine you selected. You’ll be continually amazed at the variety and quality of the meals.

You'll have opportunities to view northern wildlife and plants

The North is rich with some of the most abundant and diverse plant and wildlife anywhere in the world. Each of our river adventures is scheduled to allow for maximum opportunities to see the plants & wildlife of that particular area.

Frequently Asked Questions

No question is too small when planning for a northern river adventure. If you don’t find the answers you need here, please contact us any time.

We have structured our expeditions to allow personal time and lots of time to hike and explore the area we are travelling through. “Travel days on the river” can be anywhere from a short day of 2 hours to an occasional long day of 8 hours depending on the location of the next campsite. We plan hourly shore breaks. Many trips have one or more “lay-over” day when we stay put and enjoy camping two nights In that spot. We like to get our groups on the river fairly early each day, usually by about 10 am, to allow us plenty of time to stop during the day to watch wildlife, do a short hike or allow us to photograph or explore around camp at night.

You are welcome to participate with in-camp chores and routine, but this is your option, (Remember this is your holiday and we are working). Pick the role that will be most enjoyable for you. If at any time you are puzzled about expectations, please ask one of your guides. They are very approachable and would rather clarify your questions than have you wondering. Coffee is usually brewed by 7am.

Early risers may keep themselves busy by seeking out panoramic photographs or pursuing other personal interests. Getting up, preparing and eating breakfast, making plans for the day, striking camp and loading the boats is a process that usually takes about three hours. If the camp is a “two nighter”, we have a relaxed start, things are tidied up and we enjoy the highlights of that particular spot.

Evenings are usually unstructured. A campfire, fishing, enjoying the midnight sun (June and July) or countless other activities may occupy the time. Except for short forays within the vicinity of camp, travelling alone out of site of camp is discouraged for safety reasons. As professional outfitters, we must be consistent with this policy.

We have structured our expeditions to allow lots of time to hike and explore the areas we are travelling through. “Travel days” can be anywhere from 2 to 7 hours long. There is usually a shore break every hour. We like to get on the river fairly early each day, usually by about 10 am to give us time to stop during the day to watch wildlife or do a short hike or to allow us plenty of time to photograph or explore around camp at night. All our longer expeditions have at least 3 layover days for hiking (see the individual itinerary for specific details).

We have three guidelines for our nutritious and delicious food selection: quality, quantity and variety. If you have special needs or desire a copy of our detailed meal descriptions, please let us know. With advanced notice (90 days minimum) we can accommodate most special dietary requirements (some accommodations are subject to an additional fee). Snacks and treats are provided but if you have any special favourites, feel free to bring some along.

We take great pleasure in delivering the best selection possible and appropriate in these remote and beautiful settings. Over twenty years of practice has allowed us to fine tune our menu to ensure we achieve our measurement of success: we call it the “wow” factor. Our menu includes high quality meats and cheese, abundant salads and plenty of fresh fruit.

One of the highlights of travelling to an exotic location is the opportunity to sample local foods. If this interests you, we have some exciting local dishes to try. We serve these selections as appetizers, so that the choice is yours and they are separate from the main meal. On each trip you can sample, Arctic char, Taku River salmon, caribou and other local foods.

We are proud of our tremendous staff. Many have guided with us for nearly two decades. They continue to return each season because of their sincere love for their work and the places it takes them. We are the top-of-the-food-chain so we attract the best.  Our guides are friendly, knowledgable, hard working, highly skilled women and men who love the North and enjoy sharing its beauty and secrets with others. Our guides are highly qualified and certified and the fact that we are viewed by other operators and National Parks as the “standard to aim for” perhaps says it best. A number of them are trainers and examiners in fields including paddling, rescue, first aid and interpretation. In the off season, these people are often upgrading the staff of other operators and National Parks. Junior guides come to us through our demanding practicum program that serves to ensure we employ only the “cream of the crop”. Entry requirements are high and the program yields an exceptional northern river guide. We have little “turn over” with most guides returning year after year – along with returning guests.

We can accommodate beginners on all of our raft trips but when it comes to canoes, selecting an appropriate trip for your skill level is critical to both the safety and enjoyment of your river holiday.

  • Our raft expeditions are designed for people of any skill level including novices. Some raft trips offer canoeing as an option. In this case, the canoeing prerequisites apply and must be met.
  • Tandem canoe trips are much more skill specific and careful thought must be applied to assessing your canoe skill level (see below). On some rivers we have an alternative approach that can modify these requirements with the use of our “canyon rig” strategy. Above the rapids, we can catamaran the canoes together in pairs, which means you can enjoy greater stability while going for the biggest waves. In the flatter sections we disassemble the rigs.

The following are the considerations for each canoe trip:

Yukon River canoe
You have canoed previously and know the rudimentary strokes: bow, reverse, “j”, draw, pry and sweep. You are comfortable paddling in the bow and working with another partner or you have river reading skills and can control the canoe from the stern while working with another partner.

Stikine, Wind canoe
You have mastered the skills above. You have taken an introductory river canoeing course and have experience paddling on Grade II rivers. In addition you have river reading skills and can work effectively with a partner to side slip and back ferry to move the canoe laterally in Grade II water with precision. You can comfortably apply these skills to navigating tight bends and avoiding log jams. You have swum through a rapid with a capsized canoe.

Nahanni 2 week, Nahanni 3 week hiking, or canoeing on a 8 or 12 day Nahanni trip, Coppermine canoe
You possess the skills above and have completed a whitewater canoe course. You have swum through a rapid with a capsized canoe. You are able to read Grade III water and quickly formulate strategies while working with a partner to navigate. Unless you opt for the canyon rig strategy for the main rapids you match the following description:

At least once a year for the two previous seasons or more, you paddle Grade II/III whitewater with friends or a canoe club. You are committed to at least one “warm up” trip or course prior to the planned trip this season. We can modify these requirements by the use of “canyon rigs” for the rapids but this must be discussed with us before booking.

Moose Ponds, Mountain River Canoe, Snake River
You possess the abilities and judgment level above and have a more extensive “whitewater” background. For the last 3 years or more you have paddled Grade III whitewater at least 3 times per year and enjoy practicing technical moves. You are committed to at least one “warm up” trip or course prior to the planned trip this season.

Canyon Rig Description
On some rivers we have an alternative approach that can modify these requirement with the use of our “canyon rig” strategy. Above the rapids, we can catamaran the canoes together in pairs, which means you can enjoy greater stability while going for the biggest waves. In the flatter sections we disassemble the rigs and canoe conventionally.

What if I am a whitewater kayaker and have not canoed previously?
If this is the case, please contact us directly and we can discuss your background in relation to the trip you are considering. Are You a Whitewater Paddler? Have you swum through a long rapid with a flipped canoe?

If not, you have yet to earn your stripes as a whitewater canoeist. Take a whitewater course and practice whitewater recovery skills before your trip.

Canoes and “swimming”

Only on a rare occasion will a participant fall out of a raft. On the other hand, tipping a canoe and “going for a swim” is considered an integral part of “canoe sport”. One or more canoes flipped at any time is a normal event and is not considered an “emergency” or “incident”. The group simply recovers the swimmers and boats. When all is secure, the group continues down the river. It’s part of the fun.

In class II and greater rapids, a neoprene wet suit or fabric dry suit is mandatory. On the other rivers many will opt for the neoprene wet suit although some paddlers (with strong internal “furnaces”) will opt for rain gear worn over polypropylene and fleece on the whitewater days. Feel free to consult with us for more information specific to the river you have selected. Due to the use of spray covers, helmets are mandatory on the Moose Ponds, and recommended on the Mountain River canoe, Snake and Burnside canoe trips.

Yes! Our raft adventures require no experience and anyone in good health can join us. We have had every age from 5 to 85 on our expeditions over the last 30 years. We are prepared and willing to help those who cannot carry heavy loads, etc. However we believe part of our responsibility is helping ensure you have the most enjoyable experience possible and are happy to discuss what adventure is most appropriate for you.  Please get in touch directly with our office to learn more.

We believe in showing you all aspects of the areas we are travelling in and not just “the river banks”. To achieve this we have scheduled all our adventures to allow plenty of time for hiking, exploring, photography or just relaxing. We try to do at least one hike every day – these range from short 1 or 2 hour walks from our canoes or rafts to all day hikes from the camp. All our hikes are optional.

All canoe participants should be healthy, reasonably fit and comfortable in and around water. Our raft expeditions have no exceptional requirements. Previous experience is not a requirement for many of the journeys. The individual itineraries have specific comments in this regard. On all expeditions, we provide many hiking opportunities from one hour to all day. Participation is entirely up to you – you can lead the group, go only part way, go for a short stroll or choose to relax in camp and read a book. All participants are required to fill out a medical form for their own health and safety. A good general level of fitness is recommended; the trip will be much more enjoyable if you are in good physical condition. Most hiking will not be overly strenuous but we will be walking up and down hills. We recommend regular exercise prior to the trip such as walking, swimming, or participating in a fitness program.

Various trips place different demands upon guest participation. Here is an explanation of the differences:

  • 2-Person Canoes
    The traditional 16’ and 17’ canoe. Previous canoe experience is an asset. Physical fitness and comfort on and in moving water are important. Refer to the specific trip itinerary for additional skills that may be required for your trip.
  • Raft
    The safe and stable expedition raft is ideal for those who desire their hands free to photograph or travel in a more relaxed fashion. The guide maneuvers the raft with oars and paddling by participants is completely optional.
  • Inflatable Kayaks – please inquire for more details

On our combination raft and canoe journeys a tandem canoe may be arranged.

Note: There is a $280.00/person flight surcharge for the tandem canoe or try our new inflatable kayaks; $125 to rent our solo kayak on the 8 & 12 day Nahanni combination journeys.

Just about everything – from easy week-long quick escapes to 3 week long expeditions – trips to suit every interest. Our trips are river or ocean based and will allow you to explore majestic areas with unique qualities, flora and wildlife. With our options of different craft and challenge level there is a choice for every level of adventurer. All of the trips include great hiking so it is a true multi-sport vacation. This Web site will give you a good idea of each destination. You can find the detailed itinerary of each expedition here on the site. If you would like to speak with someone regarding a trip, our friendly staff will be happy to help you, or you can contact some of our many alumni who have volunteered to be references for us.

Imagine the “land of the midnight sun”, a country of diverse land forms, wild flowers and new delights to the eye, every day. Imagine rivers that flow through these lands in a sinuous manner, serving as a conveyor to move you from one delightful experience to the next. Imagine rewarding hikes, with a range of distances to choose, to pick the one that’s right for you.

You will be accompanied by your knowledgeable guides who share their love for the area, and with them you unfold the mysteries and experience the beauty of the north. You will wake up each morning in your well equipped camp, not knowing specifically what will happen but knowing it will be memorable and will inspire stories to tell your friends for years to come. You may be one who prefers to be challenged physically or you may be looking for a peaceful natural retreat experience – we can help you find a trip option to meet your desires. You can be certain that our goal is to begin working together with you now to plan a holiday that will meet and exceed your expectations in as many ways as possible and be one of those “trips of a life time” that we all dream of. Our years of experience tell us that you will return home refreshed, revitalized and already planning your next adventure.

We limit our season to the best time to experience each river. So you can’t go wrong with any of the dates we list. Feel free to select the one that best matches your holiday time. All our Arctic journeys are timed to take advantage of the wildlife, birds and flowers. On the Nahanni and Tatshenshini Rivers, the early season trips have 24 hours of daylight, while the late season trips often get northern lights. If you are looking for flowers and birds, pick an early season expedition. Pick a time to suit your interests!

The majority of people who come with us are from North America, but it is not uncommon to have folks join us from anywhere in the world. We have had people from most countries in Europe as well as South Africa, Australia and Asia. Most share the common goal of a strong interest in the outdoors and enjoy meeting and making new friends. They come alone, in couples, as a family or in groups. They range from 8 to 80 years. On our regular trips we keep our guide to guest ratio 1-4, to provide the best value for the optimum quality of experience. This is the best for our category in the Canadian north. Custom trips can have a lower ratio but at an additional cost. Number of participants is governed by permits. It ranges from 12 to 20 plus guides depending on the permits. If this is an issue for you, please enquire about your specific trip before booking. Our experience is that, with our well organized camps, there is little difference to the feel of a group of 12 or 20 participants and the additional guides available to the larger group is a great enhancement.Because of our long relationship with many locals and officials, we have unique freedom and are able to visit certain areas which would be difficult or impossible to reach on one’s own.

We work hard to ensure you receive the greatest value from your experience with us. This is your “trip of a lifetime” and that’s how we treat it. We have earned a reputation as the best river outfitter in the north and there are some good reasons for this. We have chosen to set the highest bar, and refuse to cut corners.

The north is not a mass market destination – thank goodness! It is not the cheapest region to visit, but the experiences found here are like nothing else in the world. We know you will be pleased with the experience and value you receive. Our prized rivers are remote and require charter aircraft to fly in, out or both. This is our single biggest expense. Operating in such remote regions with a short season, brings expenses not encountered elsewhere – but the results are priceless.

We continue to survey our guests every year to determine what they value on these trips and we plan the program and price accordingly. We do this in the spirit of Sustainable Tourism and Code of Ethics. Most operators who are truly ecologically sound will do this and as a result, most are priced quite close. You can be certain that, for northern river expeditions: day for day, kilometer for kilometer, guide for guide – you get what you pay for. There are a small number of notable exceptions as there are in most businesses and they are well to steer clear of – they are likely cutting corners. For such a special trip, you do not want to find yourself on an “econo tour”.

What sets us apart as the best? What are the most important factors? Most companies will have good gear, good food and a reasonable itinerary on paper. How can you pick the best one for you?

Our guests seek the richest experiences and want to bring home the best stories. We design our itineraries to maximize your time in the best places that will maximize this. Experience has taught us that the most important factors are the guides and the ratio of staff to participants (1-4 max.). Even the best guides can only be in one place at one time and this is not an area in which to compromise. You are making an important investment in this special trip, you deserve the best from your guides and they can only provide this if they are not “spread too thin”.

We have the greatest retention of staff in the north, with some having served for 30 years and an average of over 10 years. Also important, is the support that the guests and staff receive before, during and after the season, both “up front” and “behind the scenes”. This directly effects the quality of your experience and most importantly, safety. We shine in this area.

In addition, we commit to the goal of having the most “consistently” knowledgeable staff in the areas of local interpretation such as flora, fauna, geology, geomorphology, human history, and unique details pertinent to the area. On our trips we bring the most extensive library of reference material. One individual guide cannot have all of this information memorized, so the realistic role of a guide is to work with you to uncover the beautiful details of the region.

We are confident that in the area where we operate, we are leaders in “consistently” maintaining these standards. As you can see, it begins with the depth and breadth of information you see here, and continues with our communications, information and attention to detail, even long after you have returned home.

We welcome any questions you may have on this topic. This is a very special trip for you. You will likely not travel this river a second time, so you want to “do it right”. We understand this and that is why we set the standards as high as we do. We will provide you with the richest experiences possible. If you are like most of our guests, you will be back to travel another river – after all – it is the “magnetic north”!

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Since 1972  we have sought out the best experiences the north has to offer and have perfected vacations that are truly one of a kind. We offer 25 different itineraries on 15 wilderness rivers across Northern Canada and Alaska.

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Your dream northern vacation is waiting.

Since 1972  we have sought out the best experiences the north has to offer and have perfected vacations that are truly one of a kind. We offer 25 different itineraries on 15 wilderness rivers across Northern Canada and Alaska.

Our beautifully designed catalogue of our award winning adventures features captivating images of northern landscapes and wildlife – it’s truly a feast for the eyes!

What’s Inside:

  • Expertly crafted itineraries on the best rivers in Northern Canada and Alaska
  • Awe-inspiring photos from every destination
  • Easy-to-read trip summaries and schedules

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