Firth River – Tundra Beauty, Wildlife, Wildflowers & Hiking

Trip Length
12 day(s)


Skill Level

Rendezvous Point
Parks Canada Office, Inuvik, Northwest Territories

$15,795 (CAD) GST 5% + $231.50 CAD Park Fee

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A rafting journey down the Firth River in Ivvavik National Park is an enchanting, scenic passage from the British Mountains to the coastal tundra plains and the Arctic Ocean.

Trip Highlights

  • The most hiking on any guided river trip north of 60.
  • Remote arctic tundra with whitewater, muskox, caribou, wolves, Dall sheep, fox, grizzly and raptors.
  • Wildflowers and the most hiking opportunities of all of our trips
  • 12 river days

Trip Details

Rafting over 11 river days, we journey 150 kilometres (94 miles) with an approximate elevation drop of 460 metres (1500 feet). This is a land of contrasts: forest and tundra, craggy peaks and alpine meadows, wild coastline and icefilled seas. The Porcupine caribou herd, grizzly bears, mountain sheep, muskox and wolves thrive in this arctic Eden, along with millions of migratory birds. The Firth features a long canyon stretch, Class III rapids and Inuvialuit cultural sites. It’s a fly-in and fly-out rafting journey that finishes at the Arctic Ocean.

Ivvavik National Park is the first national park in Canada created as the result of a First Nation land claim agreement. Its designation in 1984 was timely as a number of industrial developments were being proposed for the area. The last one – the Arctic Gas Pipeline – was rejected by the Government of Canada following the Berger Inquiry of 1977. Justice Thomas Berger wrote: “The Northern Yukon is an arctic and sub-arctic wilderness of incredible beauty, a rich and varied ecosystem: nine million acres of land and animals…a place of contrasts, of an explosively productive but brief summer and of a long hard winter, of rugged mountains and stark plains. Its teeming marshes and shore lands give it a beauty equaled by few other places on Earth.”

The 24-hour daylight allows plenty of time to take advantage of the excellent hiking opportunities. The trip generally includes two layover days for full days hiking for those who wish. 

Skill Prerequisites: None – beginners welcome!

Parks Canada Science Trip

July 14 – 28: We will have Park Canada researchers joining us! And again we will be extending the trip to include one extra day, the trip will end on July 28th. The price of the trip will be $16,545 If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail for more information.

Download Firth Science Trip Information >

Further Reading



Trip Dates

June 16, 2024 - June 29, 2024 Book Now

Please Contact Our Office

June 26, 2024 - July 9, 2024 Book Now

Canadian Geographic Expedition with Wade Davis - Fully Booked

June 30, 2024 - July 13, 2024 Book Now

4 Seats Available

July 12, 2024 - July 25, 2024 Book Now

Please Contact Our Office

July 14, 2024 - July 28, 2024 Book Now

Parks Canada Expedition - 1 Seat Available

June 16, 2025 - June 29, 2025 Book Now

Please Contact Our Office

June 26, 2025 - July 9, 2025 Book Now

10 Seats Available

June 30, 2025 - July 13, 2025 Book Now

13 Seats Available

July 14, 2025 - July 28, 2025 Book Now

Parks Canada Expedition - 12 Seats Available

July 12, 2025 - July 25, 2025 Book Now

Please Contact Our Office

Additional dates may be available, please inquire.



This is the first date listed for your trip.

The trip starts and ends in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. To get there, you fly to Whitehorse, Yukon or Yellowknife, NWT and connect with a flight to Inuvik, NWT in the Mackenzie Delta where this giant river flows into the Beaufort Sea. Trip participants meet the trip leader and guides at the Midnight Sun Complex at 6 p.m., the night before the start of our journey. The Firth is in the Yukon, but Inuvik-in the northwestern corner of the Northwest Territories-is the closet town with a jet-serviced airport.


We’ll have some time for last minute errands in Inuvik in case you need to pick up something at the Northern Store or get a National Parks fishing license from Parks Canada. The flight into Ivvavik National Park will leave Inuvik Airport around 10 a.m. We fly in a deHavilland Twin Otter aircraft, the workhorse aircraft of the North. The route takes us over the vast maze of the Mackenzie River Delta; one of the largest in the world, home to nesting swans, ducks and geese. As we reach the mountains we keep our eyes peeled for large mammals – caribou, muskox, moose, bears.

The hour-long flight to the river put-in takes us across north Yukon close to the border with Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Ivvavik was Canada’s first national park created by a land claim. We land near Margaret Lake on “tundra tires.” Guides will set up camp and inflate rafts while you explore your surroundings.


At first, the winding river has a quiet nature. Low banks reveal unobstructed views up the valley and limestone crags rise from the river. Our rafts glide across deep clear pools full of grayling and char. The area is summer habitat for many migrating birds: phalaropes, sandpipers, plovers, jaegers, terns, buntings, longspurs and even robins. Caribou migration trails line the hillsides. Red fox and ptarmigan are common. The open tundra was made for wildlife watching and hiking – we carry a spotting scope to take advantage of viewing opportunities.


A few days into the journey, you begin to realize how this land has been used by indigenous cultures for thousands of years. Along much of the route, there are ancient signs of human use. The Inuit would leave the coast to travel inland and hunt caribou and moose and fish for char. When we pick a nice campsite – one with good wildlife viewing opportunities or perhaps a great fishing hole – we may find remains of old meat caches and stone rings.


Downstream of Joe Creek the river enters a spectacular canyon that continues for 40 km. The landscape transforms as the limestone rock gives way to volcanics, mountains rise and vegetation changes. The middle part of our adventure takes us through the ancient, unglaciated and jagged British Mountains. The Firth winds among these stained, eroding peaks, alternating between quiet pools and exhilarating rapids. In places remnants remain of stone fences built by Inuit hunters to funnel caribou into enclosures.


Just above the confluence of Sheep Creek we run some of the trip’s bigger rapids. Partway through the canyon, we stop to camp. Ridges to the west beckon for hiking, and we take some time to catch up on journaling, photography, and discovering the area’s cultural and natural history.


Wildlife spotting is a non-stop activity as we watch for ten species of raptor, Dall sheep, wolves, bears and caribou. Sometimes we’re fortunate to witness thousands of caribou from the 160,000-strong Porcupine Caribou Herd crossing the river and surrounding our camp. Soon the British Mountains merge into the Buckland Hills. The canyon walls are left behind and the Firth emerges onto the coastal plain.


As the plains spill before us, a rocky knoll known as Engigstiack rises a few hundred yards from the river. Though just one hundred feet high, Engigstiack provides great views over the plain.

We climb this timeless hill, an important archaeological site where hunters have stood for 8,000 years gazing across the tundra.


We float across the plain to reach a campsite at the head of the Firth delta. Here vegetation is often draped in qiviut, the downy underhair of muskox, and we have a good chance of seeing some of these hairy beasts.


River channels get smaller as we approach the ocean, so we may walk along the flowering tundra in order to lighten the rafts through the shallows. On our last night we camp on the beach of Nunaluk Spit, at the mouth of the Firth River delta. Here we’ll enjoy the first campfire of the trip, thanks to plentiful driftwood. Ocean currents carry nutrient-rich waters along this coast, attracting birds, mammals, whales and other sea life.


The Twin Otter will pick us up for a flight along the Arctic Ocean and coastal plains, back to Inuvik, where we will gather for a final dinner. Remember to book a hotel room for this night, and plan your flight no earlier than the next morning.


This is the last date listed for your trip.

After goodbyes and a last look around Inuvik, we will head for home with a cargo of fond and spectacular memories.

Please note: The above is a tentative itinerary and has been designed with much thought to capitalize on the most scenic and exciting parts of the river, while making time on other sections. Your guides will adjust the schedule to make the best use of river and weather conditions.

Please ensure that you have a warm winter jacket (think ‘Puffy’) as well as waterproof rain jacket and pants. We rent robust rain gear and rubber boots – more on our ‘Details & Equipment list. Goretex is not a substitute for rain gear on this trip. Lifejackets are supplied.

Meals and pre- and post-trip accommodation in Inuvik are your responsibility – the cost is not included in the trip fee. We have attached a list of Inuvik hotels. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are included from the Day 1 lunch until the final river meal. Any other meals off the river are your responsibility.


The Firth River was worth every penny. An extraordinary experience. Don’t miss it!

- John & Elaine B

Incredible and fantastic trip, perhaps the best yet and that’s saying a lot! Especially as this is my 14th river trip nearly all of which have been with you. Great company, great management, and great guides! Stress free adventure travel at its very best! Thank you all!

- Marianne R

I am unable to understand how you make any money on a trip such as this one just taken.

- Richard H. Willowdale, On

Every Canadian should see the spectacular scenery of this magnificent arctic river valley!!!

- Laurent T. Georgetown, On

A true wilderness experience in some of the most remote brutal beauty in the North American Hemisphere and Canadian Arctic. The expertise and knowledge of flora, fauna and geology of this arctic region makes the adventure even more enjoyable

- Biff K, Bailing Green, KY

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