Northwest Territories Travel Guide
Tourists can easily visit ‘Canada’s Last Frontier’, the ‘Land of the Polar Bear’ and ‘North of Sixty’ in the space of a single vacation, as these places are, in fact, one and the same, with their titles simply other appellations by which the Canadian Northwest Territories are known.
Located in the remote north of the country, the territories are a contender for the ‘most scenic region in Canada’ title, with nature overwhelmingly taking the controlling hand in the area’s aesthetic beauty. Diverse landscapes, majestic mountain ranges, meandering coastlines and magnificent rolling tundra are but a few of the eye-catching features that help to make this a place of visual delight.
It’s wall-to-wall bling in Yellowknife, Canada’s ‘diamond capital’ and the largest urban development in the Northwest Territories. The city grew rich off the gold industry, but these days it’s the shiny stones that bring in the megabucks. Sparkles beyond the jewelry shops are a touch lacking, however, as this is a destination with not a great deal in the way of exciting things to do or see.
Aside from a glut of art galleries, highlights among the city’s small selection of attractions include the Prince Of Wales Northern Heritage Center, with its collection of artifacts relating to indigenous peoples of the arctic/sub arctic regions, and the John A’s Paleo Emporium, with its fossil and dinosaur bone collection. For festivals and cultural entertainment, the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre is the city’s premier venue.
Contrary to popular belief, the Northwest Territories are not a year-round frozen wilderness with primitive and sporadic human settlements. Come summertime the region enjoys several months of glorious sunshine, providing visitors with ample opportunities to engage in a plethora of outdoor activities.
Rivers in the territories are the ideal places to get some kayaking or white water rafting action, with the Nahanni River in the southern Mackenzie mountains presenting some of the best in terms of varying currents and physical characteristics. If you prefer your outdoor activity a touch less frenetic, you can enjoy hours of relaxed fishing at any of many magnificent lakes in the region.
If you feel the urge for a road trip, then consider heading along Highway 1 to the South Slave region. The drive, beginning at the border with Alberta and stretching as far as the hamlet known as Enterprise, is known the Waterfalls Route and takes in a number of scenic waterfalls as well as some interesting karst rock formations along the way.
Don’t miss out on Nahanni National Park Reserve, a 2,961 square mile nature area through which the South Nahanni River flows and provides some of the park’s loveliest views. The park has UNESCO World Heritage site status and is packed with visual attractions including the awesome Virginia Falls, the curious Grotte Valerie with its mysterious sheep skeletons and the Rabbitkettle Hot Springs with their volcanic energy heated waters.
Come wintertime, head for the Aulavik National Park if you want the chance to see icebergs. The park’s 7,456 square mile area is largely wilderness with huge stretches of badlands and some awe-inspiringly high cliffs. The park features evidence of human settlers from as far back as 3,400 years.