Nahanni Whitewater Canoeing: Moose Ponds Expedition – 3 Weeks

Trip Length
21 day(s)


Skill Level

Rendezvous Point
Whitehorse, YT

$10,395 (CAD) 5% GST + $231.50 CAD Park Fee

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Join us for canoeing on the revered Nahanni River from its headwaters to its confluence with the Liard River near Nahanni Butte. This is a classic Class III whitewater canoeing adventure for skilled paddlers.

Trip Highlights

  • The technical Rock Gardens of the upper Nahanni, in Nahanni National Park Reserve are a must-do for expert whitewater canoeists
  • Possibly the most scenically diverse river in the world
  • 21 river days.

Trip Details

We travel by two-person canoes in Nahanni National Park on the Nahanni River from Moose Ponds to Nahanni Butte, approximately 530 kilometres (330 miles) with an elevation drop of 915 metres (3,000 feet).

Note: Wet Suits or Dry Suits and Helmets are mandatory for this trip.

Prerequisites: This trip is for those with advanced whitewater paddling skills. If unsure of your ability, please give us a call: 1-800-297-6927 or (867) 668-3180.

Learn more about canoe trip skill prerequisites >



Trip Dates

June 30, 2024 - July 21, 2024 Book Now

Please contact our office

June 29, 2025 - July 20, 2025 Book Now

9 Seats Available

Additional dates may be available, please inquire.


The following 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.

Trip length: 21 river days
Meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks are included from lunch on Day 1 until the final river meal. Any other meals off the river are your responsibility.

Day o Whitehorse

This is the first day 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.

This is the arrival day and is the first day listed for your trip. 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 6pm for an orientation meeting with the trip leader. There will be a chance for last- minute questions concerning clothing, gear, packing and other details.

Day 1 

Following breakfast (not covered), we will meet you at your hotel at 8am and will embark on our journey to Mayo, a small community on the territory of the Na-cho Nayak Dun First Nation.

From there, we will travel by float plane to the Moose Ponds. This flight will take us through vast mountain scenery and into the South Nahanni watershed.

We will enjoy the peace and beauty of our alpine setting as we toast our arrival into the Naats’ihch’oh National Park Reserve and its stunning wilderness.

The lake also provides an excellent venue to review canoeing skills with your guides who are certified canoe instructors.

Days 2 & 3 Mount Naats’ihch’oh

At the Moose Ponds we review strokes, and as conditions allow, a day hike may be made to the top of Mount Naats’ihch’oh.  When the group is ready, we embark on the Nahanni and camp in the vicinity of Initiation Rapids.

Days 4, 5 & 6 Rock Gardens

We encounter spectacular whitewater comprised of continuous Grade II and III rapids known as the Rock Gardens. This continues until close to the junction of the South and Little Nahanni Rivers.  We will make camp in the heart of the mountains and enjoy delicious three course meals prepared over the fire. There is no shortage of daylight so you can linger around the fire watching the evening light play on the river.

Days 7 & 8 Ragged Range

Here the river flattens out. Moores’ Cabin and Hot Springs are points of interest. We pass the Broken Skull River. It is along this portion of the river that we have spotted wolves in the past. Glacier Lake is in this vicinity and you will have stunning views of the Ragged Range. Camp will be near Rabbitkettle Lake.

Day 9 Rabbitkettle Hotsprings

We will enjoy a lay over day at Rabbitkettle Lake while more delicious food and supplies are delivered to us for the second half of our journey! Additional group members may join at this time. The lake is beautiful, with warm waters, views of the highest peaks in the NWT and some great hiking opportunities. All of these make the day a highlight for many of our guests.  We will enjoy an interpretive hike, guided by Nahanni National Park personnel (subject to availability of Park staff) to view the Rabbitkettle Hot Spring and Tufa Mounds.

Days 10 & 11 Mountain Peaks

We begin paddling down river towards Virginia Falls.

This section of the river is dominated by U -shaped valleys which were scoured out by advancing cordilleran glaciers thousands of years ago. We paddle 120 km (72 mi.) on the smooth flowing water to Virginia Falls. Along the way we will camp beside beautiful creeks such as Hell Roaring Creek and Flood creek and will feast our eyes on Rabbitkettle Mountain, a myriad of alpine ridges and the Sunblood range.

Day 12 Virginia Falls

Everyone will appreciate a rest day at Virginia Falls. At over 90 m (300 ft.) Virginia Falls is twice the height of Niagara, and is the spectacular centerpiece of Nahanni National Park. Virginia Falls is a fascinating place to discover!

Day 13 Hiking

This is a day for exploring and photographing the area around Virginia Falls, 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 14 Painted Canyon

Following our layover day, we complete the 2 km portage around the Falls and reload our canoes. For the following week we will immerse ourselves in the spectacular scenery of the lower Nahanni River. The lower Nahanni is canyon country and is often described as the Grand Canyon of the North. Beginning with Painted Canyon, so named because of its brightly coloured walls, you will experience the thrill and excitement of this whitewater section.  Camp is made for the evening below Wrigley Creek.

Day 15 The Gate

We enter Third Canyon, the walls of which rise 1200 metre over the river. Keen eyes may spot woodland caribou, moose and Dall sheep. Stopping at The Gate and Pulpit Rock for lunch, we will hike to the top of the canyon for a bird’s eye view of the narrow gorge below and the expanse of the canyon walls. Camp will be downstream of Pulpit Rock and The Gate.

Days 16 & 17 Deadmen Valley

Paddling through the Big Bend and Second Canyon and past Headless Creek we will find ourselves camped in the vicinity of Deadmen Valley. The view includes the Tlogotsho Plateau and Dry Canyon Creek. It was here, on the shores of Headless Creek, that the bodies of the Mcleod brothers were found in 1905 and the legend of the Headless Valley was born. Downriver at Sheaf Creek, R. M. Patterson and his partner, Gordon Mathews, wintered over in 1928. Patterson later wrote Dangerous River, one of the most eloquent accounts of the early days on the river. Around the campfire we will read from his book.

Day 18 & 19 Canyon Kingdom

The highlights will include First Canyon, Canada’s deepest river canyon at a depth of 1300 metre, George’s and Lafferty’s Riffles and White Spray Springs. After stopping at Kraus’ Hot Springs for a soak in the 37°C natural springs we leave the canyons and carry on to camp in the area known as The Splits. Here the river braids and twists into many channels.

Day 20 Liard River

Following breakfast, we will continue on to the Naha Dene 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 aircraft for a flight down the Liard River to Fort Simpson. The awaiting shuttle van will take you to your accommodation (not included).  Your group will have a celebratory final evening recounting memories that will last a lifetime.

Day 21 Homeward Bound

Today is the last date listed for your trip. You can begin travelling home any time.  You’ll be sure to have an abundance of meaningful memories that will last a lifetime!

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