Canadian National Park: Nahanni, Northwest Territories
In the Northwest Territories of Canada there is a sacred place of Dene legend, home to the Dehcho First Nations. A World Heritage Site, Nahanni National Park Reserve holds the highest mountains and largest glaciers in the Northwest Territories, and also about 500 grizzlies.
Nahanni Park covers the South Nahanni River and some of the McKensie Mountain range. The only practical way to get to the river is by float plane or helicopter, and once there the best way to get around is by canoe or kayak. If your plane leaves from Fort Simpson make sure to stop by the visitors centre to learn about the history, culture and geography of the area.
A few visitors hike into the park, bet everyone who enters must register with Park officials for safety reasons. Progress is tracked through river check in points, and everyone must also deregister within 24 hours of leaving. Camping is allowed, but if you plan on going to Virginia Falls make a reservation months in advance. This waterfall has twice the drop of Niagara, and visitation is controlled to prevent overcrowding.
Only 800-1000 people visit Nahanni yearly; most stay overnight as they travel down the river. Besides the grizzlies, wood buffalo and woodland caribou inhabit the area as well as wolves, Dall’s sheep, mountain goats and trumpeter swans. Popular destinations within the park also include Rabbitkettle Hotsprings, with pool sizes ranging from tiny to human size, and Grotte Valerie, filled with the ancient skeletons of Dall’s sheep.
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