Broken Skull River: 12 Day Canoeing Adventure

Trip Length
12 day(s)


Skill Level

Rendezvous Point
Whitehorse, Yukon

$9,640 (CAD) + GST + 231.50 Park Fee

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Crafted for those who are looking for a shorter holiday or who have already paddled the South Nahanni River, our 12 day Broken Skull adventure allows paddlers the full Broken Skull experience with a fly out option at Rabbitkettle Lake. This trip maximizes time spent in the high alpine that makes the Broken Skull a ‘must do’ northern river.

This unique and remote tributary of the Nahanni starts high in the mountains of one of Canada’s newest National Parks, Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve.

Clear water, unforgettable views and an intimate wilderness experience, the Broken Skull offers all of this from its beginning high in the alpine to its mouth at the South Nahanni river. Not to mention the friendly, exciting whitewater that will have you hooting and hollering from the sheer joy of corner after corner of fun!

With exciting but approachable rapids, easy access to the alpine and hidden hot-springs, this wild river begs for exploration.

Those who paddle the Broken Skull river will enjoy the highest quality of wilderness experience including our famous Nahanni menu, our professional guides and our love for sharing wild places.

Skill Prerequisites

  • Class II whitewater experience

Learn more about canoe trip skill prerequisites >


Trip Dates

July 26, 2024 - August 6, 2024 Book Now

9 Seats Available

July 25, 2025 - August 5, 2025 Book Now

9 Seats Available

Additional dates may be available, please inquire.



This is the first date listed for your trip. Your journey north from your home will be a refreshing departure. You will fly over the largest expanse of wilderness in the world with stunning views on cloudless days. Passing through quieter and friendlier airports, you will begin to immerse yourself in the wilderness experience that is about to unfold.

This is the arrival day and is the first day listed for your trip. The scheduled flights arrive in Whitehorse throughout the day. Please make your way to your hotel and plan to rendezvous with your guides at the meeting point confirmed in your Welcome Aboard Package, at 6pm for an orientation meeting with the trip leader. There will be a chance for last- minute questions concerning clothing, gear, packing and other details.


Following breakfast (not covered), we will meet you at your hotel at 8am and will embark on our journey to Mayo, a small community on the territory of the Na-cho Nayak Dun First Nation.

From there, we will travel by float plane to Divide Lake. This flight will take us through vast mountain scenery and into the South Nahanni watershed.

We will enjoy the peace and beauty of this alpine lake as we toast our arrival into the Naats’ihch’oh National Park Reserve and its stunning wilderness.

The lake also provides an excellent venue to practise canoeing skills before setting out the following morning.


After an introduction to preparing canoes for travel and river safety we will paddle from Divide Lake onto a crystal clear creek that will take us to Swallow Falls, named for the swallows that nest in the cliffs around the falls. A short portage through dwarf birch takes us around the falls to the start of a small canyon. Depending on water levels we will paddle or line this tight canyon and revel in the clear water pouring over boulders. We will camp at the exit of the canyon and watch the sun set over the canyon walls.


Shortly after setting out we will arrive at the Broken Skull River and get our first taste of it’s famous, friendly whitewater. We will weave our way through boulder fields enjoying class 1-2+ waves. As necessary, we will scout wave trains to identify the best line at our water level. The whitewater will last for most of the day but will lessen off in time to allow our gaze to shift to the incredible views on all sides. We will make camp in the heart of the mountains and enjoy delicious three course meals prepared over the fire. There is no shortage of daylight so you can linger around the fire watching the evening light play on the mountain ranges.

DAY 5-6

The thrills continue on the river with continual stretches of beautiful, friendly whitewater. Standing waves around every corner, perfectly spaced boulders to weave through and the occasional opportunity to ‘thread the needle’. Even the most restrained paddlers won’t be able to wipe the smile off their face. There are ample opportunities for hiking and exploration off the river. Your guides will make opportunities available based on the group interest, water levels and weather. A ‘must do’ is the Broken Skull hotsprings, a 2.5km hike up a small tributary of the Broken Skull river. The water temperatures will not disappoint and after a few days of paddling, the soak will be a welcome chance to revive tired muscles. For an intrepid few, a dunk in the nearby creek can be interspersed with soaking in the piping hot pools.

DAY 7-9

As the Broken Skull river grows it maintains its crystal clear water. At this point in the trip some groups have added grizzly bears, porcupines, moose, caribou and wolves to their list of wildlife sightings. The Broken Skull river is an active wildlife corridor where you will be sure to see tracks of many of these mammals. We will paddle through the ‘Mini Gate’, named for the Gate on the South Nahanni River. This smaller but equally photo worth geological feature provides an opportunity for photo shoots. We will enjoy drifting through the still pools of this special landmark before paddling on to more whitewater. As we paddle from the Naats’ich’oh Park into the Nahanni National Park Reserve we will get our first glimpses of the Ragged Range which includes the highest peaks in the Northwest territories. We will camp on a gravel bars with small, delicate rocks that will ensure we sleep soundly under the midnight sun.

DAY 10

Dwarf fireweed dots the river’s edge with its magenta blossoms as we paddle towards the confluence with the South Nahanni river. The Vampire Peaks loom large as the clear water of the Broken Skull swirls into the Nahanni’s grey green waters. Paddle ‘high fives’ will be passed amongst the group as you congratulate yourself on having paddled a river only a handful of groups experience each year. Now you can sit back and enjoy the quiet waters of the South Nahanni. Put your feet up and gaze into the Cirque of the Unclimbables, the renowned hiking and rock climbing area a two day trek from the South Nahanni river. The armchair glacier of Mount Edna is your first landmark for the impressive peaks of the Cirque. You may get to wave hello to a group departing from Britnell Creek to hike into the Cirque of the Unclimables, a gentle reminder that the outside world exists after likely not having seen another group since arriving on the river.

DAY 11

Savour your final moments in the Nahanni watershed while you await your float plane pick up. The trip is not over yet! Your flight will take you over the wonders of the Nahanni National Park Reserve as your follow the river valley south. Arriving in the small community of Fort Simpson dinner and a hot shower await. Guest services will help you book accommodation in Fort Simpson as well as commercial flights to Yellowknife and beyond for the following day.

DAY 12

Your journey home begins today.  You will leave the north with a load of memories of the beauty and magic of the Broken Skull river.

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