Deep in the far north, the Northwest Territories morphs into Canada’s wildest wilderness. This is also where the die-hard trekkers come to immerse themselves in stunning scenery and where those who dare to tread in isolated areas can feel Mother Nature all around.
Here’s a look at some of the seven natural wonders that call Canada’s Northwest Territories home.
7 Wonders of Northwest Territories
1- Northern Lights
Claim to fame: Nature’s greatest light show.
Season: Best viewing times between December and March or in September
For romance and an out-of-this-world moment, head to the Aurora Village.
Book a cozy country lodge for this Yellowknife Aurora getaway.
Folks enjoy Northern Lights watching from the comfort of a steaming hot tub.
Others head into the magical winter wonderland and dash across the tundra by dogsled.
No wonder the Aurora Borealis is listed among the planet’s greatest natural wonders.
2- Mackenzie River
Claim to fame: North America’s second longest river and Canada’s largest river system.
Season: paddling season is short when it’s ice-free.
Spilling into the Arctic Ocean after travelling a span of roughly 1800 kilometres from the Great Slave Lake, this river is truly awe-inspiring
Book a boat tour or canoe under the magic spell of the midnight sun in summer.
Hay River is a common starting point for paddlers.
Either drive and have your vehicle transferred via barge up to the final canoe stop in Inuvik or you can arrive by bush plane.
Bank on a four to seven-week canoe trip between Hay River and Inuvik, but the sights along this Arctic coastline will be life-changing.
Folks can also enjoy a paddling adventure around the Mackenzie Delta to track a herd of reindeer cross the famous delta.
3- Polar Bears
Claim to fame: The world’s largest land predator is a highly revered animal in these parts. All you have to do is take a look at the vehicle license plates to spot a logo of the burly figure which is sadly listed as a NWT’s species at risk.
Polar Bear watching season: Best viewed in July and August
Polar bears favour the icebergs floating along the coastline off the Arctic Ocean.
A few remote lodges provide fabulous overnight stays that offer some of the best wildlife viewing experiences but you can’t always predict what Mother Nature will show.
From Yellowknife (also read things to do in Yellowknife), take a private charter to the Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge high up in the Arctic Circle to watch beluga whales, sea kayak, and of course if lucky, spot the endangered polar bears that thrive up there.
4- Nahanni National Park Reserve
Claim to fame: A UNESCO World Heritage Site and bucket list favourite with one of the most spectacular wild rivers in North America, the South Nahanni River.
Located in the southwest corner, this Northwest Territories national park reserve is on the traditional territory of the Dehcho First Nations.
Get a birds’ eye view in a floatplane and soar over the South Nahanni River.
For more dramatic waters the Virginia Falls is super spectacular — it’s more than twice the height of Niagara Falls.
Multi-day paddling trips are popular.
Guided canoe and kayaking tours are available from several licensed local outfitters.
Nahanni River Adventures combines hiking and flatwater canoeing in one.
Folks who hit the granite spires of Mont Blanc and Patagonia will love seeing the soaring peak of the Cirque of the Unclimbables.
The mountain was recently added in the Nahanni National Park expansion in 2013 which has increased the park six times the original size.
5- Canadian Arctic Archipelago
Claim to fame: The world’s second largest high Arctic land area with 94 islands some of which are in the Northwest Territories like Banks Island, which is Canada’s most westerly island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
Season: summer is best cool with an average temperature of 10 Celsius in July.
In summer, there’s never-ending daylight in this land of the midnight sun.
Hike the rolling tundra like the first European explorers who trekked these remote parts two hundred years ago at the Aulavik National Park located on Banks Island.
This is not for the faint of heart, only a few with the love of wanderlust will also enjoy touring this ultimate backcountry in an amazing backpacking trip.
As an isolated wilderness park, there are no facilities like camping, marked trails or roads.
Chartering an aircraft is the best way to get there.
6- Wood Buffalo National Park
Claim to fame: Canada’s largest national park was created to protect the only herd of wood bison left in their natural, wild state. Wood Buffalo National Park is also the summer nesting ground of the critically endangered whooping cranes.
Season: Summer or winter
North America’s largest land mammal wanders freely in its home there.
Viewers can often spot the wild bison along the roadsides.
The park is home to many other Canadian animals like bears, wolves, moose, lynx, marten, wolverines, and foxes to name a few.
In the spring be the first to see the whooping cranes preparing for their summer habitat on the salt plains and aim your lens on the continent’s tallest bird.
Another natural wonder you can see using Google Earth technology is the sighting of the world’s largest beaver dam.
It’s believed several generations of beavers have worked on this 850-metre long dam-in-the-making since the seventies.
7- Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary
Claim to fame: Canada’s largest wildlife refuge
Season: best known for its superb summer experiences.
Located in Canada’s northern Arctic region north of the tree line sharing the borders between the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, this remote area is quite frankly boreal forest heaven.
Dubbed, “Canada’s wilderness jewel,” it’s easy to understand once you visit.
Activities include day hiking and canoeing on the Thelon River which is designated as a Canadian Heritage River.
The sanctuary is accessible by a private charter from Yellowknife. Tour operators like Black Feather offer 2-week paddling trips on the Thelon River.
Read this post for more things to do in Canada.