Here comes the sun – in a major way. The Northwest Territories is now basking in long, sunny days, with summertime hikers, paddlers, and adventurers enjoying the midnight sun and exploring the Great Outdoors.
But take note, winter also brings advantages for outdoor enthusiasts, including spectacular viewings of the Northern Lights, with the celestial show available on average 240 nights a year, thanks to a combination of generally clear nights, low humidity, and the Northwest Territories being ideally located for maximal Aurora activity.
And all that underscores how the Northwest Territories is a dream location for those seeking a pristine part of the planet.
The sprawling territory is home to only 42,000 people, nearly half of whom are Indigenous. Topography includes Arctic islands, huge swaths of forest, the barrenlands, and rugged mountain ranges. The Northwest Territories has six national parks and national park reserves, including Nahanni, home to towering Virginia Falls, and Thaidene Nene, Canada’s newest national park.
Nahanni is steeped in legend, home to the likes of Deadman Valley, so named for two brothers who set off in 1905 in hopes of gold, but were later found dead, minus their heads, fueling all kinds of speculation about their fate. Another draw is Wood Buffalo National Park, which straddles the NWT-Alberta border and is a summer home to endangered whooping cranes, bison, and other intriguing wildlife. Both Wood Buffalo and Nahanni have UNESCO World Heritage Status.
One option for exploring the North is road tripping the Dempster Highway, a 737-kilometre-long journey that begins just outside Dawson City, Yukon Territory, and works its way over rugged mountain ranges, crossing the Yukon-Northwest Territories border and the Arctic Circle before arriving in the Arctic community of Inuvik, NWT From Inuvik, you can continue onto the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk where you can dip your toes in the Arctic Ocean. This road is the only highway to the top of the world and connects Canada from coast to coast to coast.
With wide-open spaces, spooky stories, the world’s best Aurora, fantastic fishing, a world of waterways, and rich Indigenous cultural experiences, the Northwest Territories is nothing short of spectacular.
Story by Ian Stalker