Join us for a Two Week Paddling Adventure on the Nahanni River in Canada's Northwest Territories

Quick Details

A classic 14 day journey for the canoeing enthusiast. Enjoy hiking, wildlife, wildflowers, geology and history.

Trip Length
13 day(s)

Craft
Canoe

Skill Level
Intermediate

Rendezvous Point
Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories

Pricing
$7,595 (CAD) 5% GST + $200 CAD park fee

Download Itinerary

This classic canoe quest begins at Rabbitkettle Lake and we journey to the confluence with the Liard River. This expedition is considered a classic for the skilled whitewater canoeist and affords an opportunity to view many of the wonders of Nahanni National Park Reserve.

Trip Highlights

  • Canoe Canada’s deepest river canyons, camp at Nailicho (Virginia Falls) – nearly twice the height of Niagara, soak in the hotsprings and explore the very first UNESCO World Heritage Site and Nahanni National Park, one of the largest parks in the world
  • A must-do journey for avid canoeists who also enjoys hiking, wildlife, wildflowers, geology and history
  • 13 river days

Trip Details

We travel on the Nahanni River from Rabbitkettle Lake to Nahanni Butte over approximately 350 kilometres (230 miles) with an elevation drop of 550 metres (1800 feet).

If you’re an avid whitewater canoeist, you already know the Nahanni River in Canada’s Northwest Territories is a mecca for serious canoe trippers. For many of those who love this adventure sport, a canoeing expedition on the Nahanni is a once in a lifetime “pilgrimage.”

Depending on water levels, it is customary on the Nahanni River to sometimes employ the use of Canyon Rigs (catamaraned canoes) for some rapids to ensure greater stability. This decision is made on site by the guides, based on a safety assessment of prevailing conditions.

Skill Prerequisites: This trip is appropriate for intermediate paddlers who are comfortable on Class II whitewater. You have a willingness to learn and a fitness level suited to paddling from 3 to 7 hours per day. If unsure of your ability, please call with any questions: 1-800-297-6927 or (867)-668-3180.

Learn more about canoe trip skill prerequisites >

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Trip Dates

June 1, 2020 - June 14, 2020 Book Now

June 15, 2020 - June 28, 2020 Book Now

June 29, 2020 - July 12, 2020 Book Now

July 6, 2020 - July 19, 2020 Book Now

July 13, 2020 - July 26, 2020 Book Now

July 27, 2020 - August 9, 2020 Book Now

August 10, 2020 - August 23, 2020 Book Now

August 17, 2020 - August 30, 2020 Book Now

Additional dates may be available, please inquire.

Itinerary

Day 1 MAJESTIC MOUNTAIN & CANYON FLIGHT

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, pass through quieter and friendlier airports and generally begin to immerse yourself in the wilderness experience that is about to unfold.

Your trip leader will meet you to transfer you to the float plane base (if you arrive prior, please make your way to your accommodation). Once everyone has arrived there will be a chance for last minute questions concerning clothing, gear, packing and other details. Those requiring our river bags will have time to transfer gear from their own bags. You can leave unrequired items at our 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!”

Day 2 RABBITKETTLE HOTSPRINGS (GAHNĮHTHAH MĮE)

At the Nahanni river we will prepare ourselves and the canoes for the downriver trip. Pending availability of Nahanni National Park Reserve staff, we will enjoy a guided 7 kilometre round trip hike to the tufa mounds.

Day 3 & 4 MOUNTAIN PEAKS

We begin the downriver trip. This portion of the river above Virginia Falls (Náįlįcho) is a flat, meandering section that allows opportunity to brush up on techniques (see our ‘Canoe Pre-requisites’ sheet). The mountains and U-shaped valley created by the glaciers will dominate the scenery. Camping will be in the most choice spots between Rabbitkettle Lake (Gahnįhthah Mįe) and Virginia Falls (Náįlįcho).

Day 5 VIRGINIA FALLS (NÁĮLĮCHO)

Virginia Falls (nearly twice the height of Niagara) will be the destination. We will camp there for two nights. This is the other spot within the National Park where planes may land and we may see other campers here.

Day 6 HIKING

This is a day for exploring and photographing the area around Virginia Falls (Náįlįcho). 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 7 WHITEWATER

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. Dinner conversation in camp will be full of recollections of paddling adventures in the canyon.

DAY 8-12 CANYON KINGDOM

Back on the river we float along the legendary Funeral Range and enter Third Canyon (35km) where the Nahanni cuts a passage just past Mary River. You will be awestruck as we float silently between the kilometer high canyon walls which rise skyward above the river. We will camp at The Gate in view of Pulpit Rock. The following day we will layover and make a short hike to a lookout above The Gate that affords a magnificent vista of the valley below. The following day we will continue on through Third and Second Canyon (15 km) into Deadmen Valley – known for its legends and mystery. This spectacular open valley offers numerous exploratory options. Following an exciting run through George’s Riffle, we drift between the sky-high walls of First Canyon which reach heights of over 1400 m. This 26 km canyon will lead us to Lafferty’s Canyon, a side canyon which joins the Nahanni on its east side. We often take a second layover here and spend the day exploring chasms and pools which dot the canyons floor. The following morning it is down to the soothing waters of Kraus’ Hot Spring. We then bid farewell to the canyons and make our way into the Splits – a maze of islands that provide sanctuary to moose and bison.

DAY 13

Following breakfast, we will continue on to the Native village of Nahanni Butte. (Pop. approx. 120) Remote yet surprisingly modern, a stroll into town provides insight into a culture far removed from most of North America. Following a snack from the village store we will board the Nahanni Butte River taxi for the 15 km ride to the Nahanni Butte Road Landing on the Liard River. The awaiting shuttle van will take your group to Fort Simpson where you will spend your final evening at Bannocklands, a beautiful inn on the banks of the Liard river.  Your group will have a celebratory final evening recounting memories that will last a lifetime.

DAY 14

After a relaxing morning you will be transported to the Fort Simpson airport.  From there 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 (at your own cost). Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are included from the pre-trip meeting until the breakfast on the final day. Any other meals off the river are your responsibility.

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