Nahanni Canyons From Virginia Falls 12-Day Trip – Canyon Kingdom & More Hiking

Trip Length
11 day(s)

Canoe, Raft, Kayak

Skill Level

Rendezvous Point
South Nahanni Airways, Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories

$9,895 (CAD) 5% GST + $231.50 CAD Park Fee

Inquire about this trip >

This Nahanni River adventure allows you to experience the Nahanni’s “Grand Canyons” and many of the features for which this historic river is renowned. Our Nahanni River 12-day trip covers the same distance as our seven day trip but allows more time for additional hiking and exploring, as well as savoring the beauty of the Nahanni Valley area because… why rush if you don’t have to?

Trip Highlights

  • Enjoy two nights at Virginia Falls to hike and photograph this wonder of nature
  • Fantastic canyon hiking to the top of The Gate
  • This itinerary allows the most time to enjoy and explore the depths of the canyons
  • Experience the majesty of Nahanni National Park: Virginia Falls, the canyons, The Gate, Deadmen Valley, Hot Springs with more time to hike, photograph and explore the canyons
  • The 11 river-day itinerary has an additional day to explore Virginia Falls, at least one additional lay-over camp and a more relaxed pace than the one week trip allowing more time to savour the experience

Trip Details

We follow a 12-day route, travelling over 240 kilometres (150 miles) from Virginia Falls to Nahanni Butte. Over this course, the Nahanni River drops 396 metres (1300 feet), or almost 9 feet per mile.

Raft / Canoe / Kayak Combo – Something for Everyone!

We make it possible for any skill level and interest to enjoy the Nahanni. From beginners who would like to raft to white water canoeist. See our prerequisites and contact us for more details.

Upon booking, we’ll need to know which craft you prefer (raft or two-person canoe) on your application form. Numbers will indicate how thoroughly we’ll be able to match preferences for craft. Please call us with any questions: 1-800-297-6927

Please note that there is a $250 flight surcharge per person for the two-person classic canoes. (We bring one inflatable canoe per group at no extra charge.)

Are You a Kayaker?

Maybe you’re a sea kayaker who would like to kayak the Nahanni. Try our new inflatable kayak! $125 to rent our solo kayak.

Added Value!

We are the only company to include these great enhancements to the quality of your trip: To maximize your enjoyment and time in the canyons and minimize exposure to bugs, we create more time to enjoy the highlights of the canyons by employing a local power boat to meet us in the Splits and speed us past the slow (and buggy) final portion to the village of Nahanni Butte, saving an entire day. In addition, we fly you from the village back to Fort Simpson, for an aerial view of the Liard valley, further enhancing your time and focus on the best highlights. Two examples of the distance we go to give you the best Nahanni experience possible!

Skill Prerequisites

  • Rafting: None, beginners welcome
  • Canoe: Class II/III whitewater experience

Learn more about canoe trip skill prerequisites >



Trip Dates

June 16, 2024 - June 28, 2024 Book Now

Please contact our office.

June 30, 2024 - July 12, 2024 Book Now

Fully Booked

July 28, 2024 - August 9, 2024 Book Now

Fully Booked

August 11, 2024 - August 23, 2024 Book Now

Fully Booked

August 15, 2024 - August 27, 2024 Book Now

Canadian Geographic Expedition - 1 Seat Available

June 15, 2025 - June 27, 2025 Book Now

12 Seats Available

June 29, 2025 - July 11, 2025 Book Now

10 Seats Available

July 13, 2025 - July 25, 2025 Book Now

10 Seats Available

July 27, 2025 - August 8, 2025 Book Now

11 Seats Available

August 10, 2025 - August 22, 2025 Book Now

Fully Booked

August 14, 2025 - August 26, 2025 Book Now

12 Seats Available

July 14, 2024 - July 26, 2024 Fully Booked

Additional dates may be available, please inquire.



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. There are two scheduled flights that arrive in Fort Simpson from Yellowknife.

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 8 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.

This is the first date listed for your trip.

DAY 1 – MAJESTIC MOUNTAIN & CANYON FLIGHT  Your trip leader will meet you after breakfast (not included) and transfer you to the float plane base.  After loading our supplies and gear into the aircraft we begin one of the major highlights of the adventure – the upriver flight. Flying over the majestic Nahanni Range and Ram Plateau, a visually stunning panorama unfolds in front of our eyes. You want to be sure to have your camera on your lap! Past participants have stepped off the plane declaring that “if the trip finished now, I would have my money’s worth!” Following lunch in camp at Virginia Falls, your guides will provide further briefing with the techniques for living comfortably along the river. The afternoon will be spent enjoying the stunning scenery around Virginia Falls.  After a delicious supper you’ll crawl into bed knowing that you are in one of the most scenic places on the planet!

DAY 2 – VIRGINIA FALLS (NÁĮLĮCHO) This is a day for exploring and photographing the area around Virginia Falls (Náįlįcho), nearly twice the height of Niagara. The vast expanse of the falls captivates photographers and hikers with a tireless display of powerful drama. Keen and fit hikers may undertake an all-day expedition to the top of Sunblood Mountain for an excellent view of the surrounding area. Others can enjoy exploring the expansive area overlooking the brink of the falls.

DAY 3 – PAINTED CANYON We will make the final portage around the falls. The trail is downhill and well defined. You need carry only what is comfortable for you. Everyone pitches in to carry what they can and we take as long as we need to complete the task. It is impossible to spend too much time at Virginia Falls! We will assemble the boats and, after a late shore lunch and briefing, we will embark in the late afternoon, on an exhilarating run through Painted Canyon, also known as Fourth Canyon. Camp is finally made for the evening below Wrigley Creek.

DAY 4 – THE GATE & PULPIT ROCK We drift past the confluence of the Flat River and then enter Third Canyon, the walls of which loom 1,200 metres above our heads. This 20 kilometres canyon is created by the river slicing through the mixed strata of shales, sandstones and limestone’s of the Funeral Range. We camp halfway through this canyon near The Gate (Tthetaehtłu ́ah), a 100 metre wide gorge where the walls tower 460 metre above us.

DAY 5 – BIG BEND In the morning we do a short hike to the top of The Gate (Tthetaehtłu ́ah) and are awarded a magnificent view of Third Canyon and Pulpit Rock. After lunch it’s back in the rafts and on through Third Canyon to camp at Big Bend.

DAY 6 – DEADMEN VALLEY (DAHAEHTTH’Į) On through Second Canyon and into Deadmen Valley (Dahaehtth’į), where we will stop for a spectacular two hour walk up a dry creek bed for an overview of this immense region. After drifting by Headless Creek, we continue on to Sheaf Creek. Here R. M. Patterson and his partner Gordon Mathews wintered in 1928. We will camp for the night at Deadmen Valley (Dahaehtth’į).

DAY 7 – PRAIRIE CREEK (TŁO DEHÉ) This may be selected by the trip guide as a layover day. If so you can spend a relaxing day around camp or exploring the massive alluvial fan of Prairie Creek (Tło Dehé). For birders it is the nesting grounds for upland sandpipers, common nighthawks, whitewinged crossbills, chipping and savanna sparrows. Fishermen will find both bull trout and Arctic grayling inhabiting the pools and eddies of the creek.

DAY 8 – INTO THE CANYON KINGDOM We start the day with a short hike up Dry Canyon, followed by the big waves of George’s Riffle. These rapids are at the western entrance to First Canyon (Ala Tthe Zhíhgojʔa). We will camp near its end at Lafferty Creek.

DAY 9 – LAFFERTY CANYON We spend the day hiking up Lafferty Creek canyon to view some of the hundreds of caves in the area.

DAY 10 – KRAUS’ HOTSPRINGS (TUŁETSĘĘ) After the waves of Lafferty’s Riffle, we take a quick dip in Kraus’ Hotsprings (Tułetsęę) before bidding farewell to the canyons and entering the braided channels of The Splits. Here a broad valley is revealed and the surrounding mountains, ridge piled upon ridge, form a dramatic contrast to the enclosure of the canyons. Lush boreal forest bordered by steep ridges form a “storybook” setting.

DAY 11 – GREAT DENE WALL & NAHANNI BUTTE (TTHENÁÁGÓ) Stopping in the village we will have an opportunity to see this traditional community. Here we board a charter plane for our flight down the Liard Valley back to Fort Simpson (Lįįdłįį Ku ́e). You will need to book accommodation for this final night in Fort Simpson (Lįįdłįį Ku ́e). The group can meet for dinner at a restaurant in town for a final farewell meal and good-bye to your guides (accommodation and meal not included).

DAY 12 – HOMEWARD BOUND This is the last date listed for your trip. After a relaxing morning and time to look around the Village of Fort Simpson (Lįįdłįį Ku ́e), you will board your homeward plane with a load of fond memories and a relaxed and renewed spirit! Please note: The above is a tentative agenda 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. We adhere to the departure regulation system of the Park which works to ensure that all river travelers have the same wilderness experience. Under certain conditions (weather, forest fire, plane availability and upriver conditions), it may be necessary to make our upriver flight soon after arrival. On the other hand, we have occasionally found ourselves waiting for safe flying conditions. In any event, we will have supper and find ourselves camped in Ft. Simpson or on the shores of the Nahanni. If we are required to overnight in Fort Simpson you are welcome to camp or take a hotel room. Please note that hotel costs and meals while in Fort Simpson are not included in the trip fee. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are included from the pre-trip meeting until the final river meal. Any other meals off the river are your responsibility.


This has been a trip that I will never forget. The entire outdoor experience was enhanced by the professionalism & personalities of the guides. They were fantastic. We’ll be back!

- Gwen Manderson, Mississauga, On

The beauty of the Nahanni caused me to reconsider the thesis that perfection is only in heaven.

- Bill Lomax, Durham, On

The trip exceeded my expectations. Traveling alone was never a concern, because once I met the guides and my group, I never felt alone again. I can hardly wait to do it again.

- Diane Squires, Guelph, On

The guides were such wonderful people. Vibrant, funny, bright, strong, co-operative, patient & supportive. They made the trip what it was.

- Mary Buie. Toronto, On

This was an unforgettable experience not only due to the phenomenal river scenery, but also to our intrepid guides who were very well informed; excellent cooks and became special friends. Thanks Lara, Graeme & Scott. Keep in touch.

- Gail Hills, Seaforth, On

What could be better then seeing the Nahanni with the man who wrote the book?

- Steven De Nure, Toronto, On

Traveling the Nahanni was the highlight of our many travels. We all have an obligation and duty to protect and expand the park for future generations.

- Vair Clendening, Winnipeg, MB

I had so much fun relaxing and enjoying the fantastic scenery and history of the park. Thank you for the best time I’ve ever had.

- Laurie McInnes, Edmonton, AB

This was a worry/hassle free trip; A wonderful experience from start to finish.

- Karl Branch, Bathurst, NB

An amazing trip down Canada’s jewel of a river, The Nahanni. Excellent guides and great guests made for great time. Thank you.

- Lynn Eakin, Toronto, On

I have been very lucky over the years in my choice of outfitters for adventure travel. But NRA is the star-of-the-art in environmentally responsible wilderness guiding. Many thanks for making this a perfect trip. We will definitely be doing business with you again.

- David Paltiel, Woodbridge, CT

The guides were amazing with their judgment, personalities and especially their fantastic cooking and work ethic. Anyone who goes on this trip will have a great time.

- Danny Paltiel, Wodbridge, CT

The trip of my life; Memories to treasure.

- Margaret Morrison, Hamilton, On

A life changing experience.

- Mark Convery, Toronto, On

An awe-inspiring complete get away with challenge and relaxation.

- Dave McInnes, Edmonton, Ab

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