Two Week Nahanni River Classic Whitewater Canoe Adventure

Trip Length
13 day(s)


Skill Level

Rendezvous Point
Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories

$9,595 (CAD) 5% GST + $231.50 CAD Park Fee

Inquire about this trip >

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
  • Two stunning flights, one from Fort Simpson to Rabbitkettle Lake, and a second from Nahanni Butte to Fort Simpson at the end of your river journey
  • 4:1 Guest to Guide ratio ensures your safety and comfort throughout the entire journey

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 >



Trip Dates

June 23, 2024 - July 7, 2024 Book Now

Please contact our office

July 7, 2024 - July 21, 2024 Book Now

Please contact our office

July 25, 2024 - August 8, 2024 Book Now

8 Seats Available

August 4, 2024 - August 18, 2024 Book Now

Fully Booked

August 21, 2024 - September 4, 2024 Book Now

Please contact our office

June 22, 2025 - July 6, 2025 Book Now

11 Seats Available

July 6, 2025 - July 20, 2025 Book Now

11 Seats Available

July 24, 2025 - August 7, 2025 Book Now

11 Seats Available

August 3, 2025 - August 17, 2025 Book Now

11 Seats Available

August 21, 2025 - September 4, 2025 Book Now

11 Seats Available

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.



After breakfast (not included) your Trip Leader will pick you up at your accommodation 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!” The afternoon will be spent, hiking, enjoying the gorgeous alpine setting of Rabbitkettle Lake and refreshing canoe skills on the lake.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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 a small wheeled aircraft for a flight down the Liard River to Fort Simpson. The awaiting shuttle van will take you to your final accommodation (not included).  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 travellers 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.

Would you like more information about this trip?

Provide your contact information and we will get back to you with a trip information package and will answer any questions you may have.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Other trips that might interest you

Nahanni River Flatwater Canoeing to Virginia Falls

8 day(s)
$8,365 (CAD)

The perfect way for novice canoeists to experience the legendary Nahanni River.

View Trip

Nahanni Whitewater Canoeing: Moose Ponds Expedition – 3 Weeks

21 day(s)
$10,395 (CAD)

Canoe the legendary Nahanni from its headwaters – an exhilarating and Class III whitewater adventure for skilled paddlers.

View Trip