Mountain River Rafting: Mackenzie Mountains, Canyons and Whitewater

Trip Length
12 day(s)


Skill Level

Rendezvous Point
Norman Wells, Northwest Territories

$10,260 (CAD) 5% GST

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Another jewel of the Mackenzie Mountains, the Mountain River is a continuous flowing sweep of mountain whitewater in Canada’s north, lying just short of the Arctic Circle. This trip is an opportunity for those without advanced whitewater canoe skills to enjoy rafting this spectacular northern mountain river.

Trip Highlights

  • Full-on whitewater excitement
  • Be one of the few who travel this “secret gem” wilderness river
  • 12 river days

Trip Details

We raft 288 kilometres (190 miles) on the Mountain River beginning at Willow Handle Lake to the Mackenzie River.

The Mountain River was highlighted in Bill Mason’s book Song of the Paddle – be sure to take a look at the video.

Pre- and post-trip accommodation is your responsibility – the cost is not included in the trip fee. We’re happy to assist you in making reservations if you wish.



Trip Dates

July 23, 2024 - August 4, 2024 Book Now

Please contact our office

August 1, 2025 - August 14, 2025 Book Now

12 Seats Available

Additional dates may be available, please inquire.


The following is a tentative agenda and has been designed to allow for exploration of this northern alpine river. Your guides will adjust the schedule to make the best use of river and weather conditions. The fast draining basin can cause water levels to change rapidly with rain events.

Trip length: 11 river days
Meals included:
Breakfast = B | Lunch = L | Dinner = D


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, pass through quieter and friendlier airports, and generally 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 6 p.m. for an orientation meeting with the trip leader. There will be a chance for last-minute questions concerning clothing, gear, packing and other details. Whitehorse is a great place to spend a few extra days and there are local day hikes, bike, canoe rentals, dog mushing kennels to visit as well as a National Historic Site and several museums. Renting a car for a day trip through the White Pass to Skagway, Alaska is a popular outing.


Day 1 (L/D) Mountain River Flight

Your Trip Leader will meet you in your hotel lobby at 8:00 a.m. following breakfast (not included). Travelling by van, we’ll make the scenic 5-hour drive to the town of Mayo. Here we will transfer to a floatplane and fly into Willowhandle Lake. This is truly a spectacular and remote part of the northern wilderness! Have your camera handy for the flight, this is one of the first of many great highlights of the trip.

The Float plane will rendezvous with the helicopter at Willowhandle Lake. From here we’ll make the dramatic helicopter portage to our camp at the confluence of the creek with the Mountain River. Be sure to watch for Mountain caribou and Dall sheep.

Day 2 (B/L/D) Whitewater, Fishing & More

Embarking on the river we enjoy exciting wave trains as we navigate the braided channels. The gradient increases through the day with exciting haystacks. This day, as on others,  there are chances to fish for trout and grayling in the clear mountain water. Keep your eyes peeled as locations such as Grizzly Meadows will live up to their name.

Day 3 (B/L/D) ‘Moonscapes’ & Mineral Springs

The spectacular mountain backdrop has dominated the scenic panorama. Now it’s time to get up close and personal with the geology. Visiting “The Moonscape” mineral springs and “Fountain of Youth” reveals the dramatic and beautiful creations of geothermal springs. These spots are often frequented by Dall sheep. Stopping at Cache Creek we can enjoy a mineral spring shower!

Day 4 (B/L/D) Battleship Rock & Canyon Beauty

Entering the first of the canyons we enjoy an exciting run and more displays of geological features. The day continues with lively wave trains, more spectacular views and eventually brings us to Battleship Rock and the mouth of Second Canyon.

Day 5 & 6 (B/L/D) Confluence at the Stone Knife River

Second Canyon competes with the First for excitement. Challenging corners, holes and rebounding waves dominate all of the Mountain River canyons. At the confluence with Stone Knife River the volume doubles and the action continues.

Day 7 (B/L/D) Third Canyon

After negotiating the rapids of Third Canyon, the river continues to wind through the mountain valley, dropping at a steep gradient. Moose, Dall sheep and grizzly inhabit the shores.

Day 8 (B/L/D) Fourth & Fifth Canyon

After Fourth Canyon the valley begins to broaden, but the current persists. The ridges take on a new shape, providing diversity for the eye. Camp is in the vicinity of Fifth Canyon.

Day 9 & 10 (B/L/D) East & West Mountains

Paddling into the Mackenzie Valley, the landforms continue to change. The secret of the river’s name becomes clear. Early travellers on the Mackenzie River would have recognized the mouth of this tributary by the presence of East and West Mountains that overlook the junction.

Day 11 (B/L/D) Mackenzie River Valley

The river slows considerably and the surrounding mountains meld into the Mackenzie River Valley. The surrounding environment changes dramatically as the confluence with the Mackenzie nears. Paddling a short distance up the Mackenzie brings us to a beautiful river beach – beachcombers paradise with large driftwood logs (certainly not from around here).

Day 12 (B/L) Float plane

In the morning we’ll be met by the aircraft that will take us back to Mayo. There we’ll be met by our van and travel the Klondike Highway back to Whitehorse. Depending on timing, the group may decide to stop for supper at a diner along the way or upon arrival in Whitehorse (supper and hotel not included). Camp will be in your hotel room in Whitehorse (your responsibility). If you have not eaten on the road, the group will likely want to gather at a local eatery (not included) to celebrate the return and recount tales of the adventure!

Day 13 Homeward Bound

After goodbyes and a last look around Whitehorse we’ll head home with a cargo of fond memories and lots of pictures of our river adventure.

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