|Canada > Northwest Territories > Fort Simpson
Nahanni National Park Reserve
Nahanni National Park Reserve
The Nahanni National Park Reserve is a popular wilderness adventure and a sightseeing destination located south of the community of Fort Simpson, Northwest Territory, Canada. The community of Fort Simpson, also known as the "Gateway to the Nahanni", is the main launching point for many guided adventures exploring into the wilderness park.
There is no road access into the park during the summer months. And during the winter an ice road forms and vehicle access becomes possible. The newly formed ice road enters into the park near the village of Fort Liard and then leads to a small First Nation village called Nahanni Butte.
During the summer months the main access into the Nahanni National Park Reserve is via paddle routes and air travel. Self guided and guided canoe, kayak and rafting tours explore the South Nahanni River navigating waterways. Floatplanes and charter planes fly people in and out of the park.
Guided tours provide experience and knowledge, as well as, transportation, lessons, equipment, meals, accommodations and/or entertainment. The adventures most enjoyed in the Nahanni National Park Reserve include flightseeing, hiking, wilderness camping, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking and rafting.
One popular adventure for the very experienced paddler is located at the north end of the park. The paddle route is a 21 day, 517 kilometre route exploring the South Nahanni River from Moose Ponds to Fort Simpson, Northwest Territory, Canada.
The Nahanni Park is 4,766 square kilometres. It is a watershed environment which falls within the boundaries of the Greater Nahanni Eco System (Mackenzie Mountains Natural Region). The landscape is rugged, harsh and beautiful. There are white water rivers, alpine lakes, deep canyons, mountain peaks, wildflower valleys, waterfalls, hot springs and wildlife.
The South Nahanni River is a Canadian Heritage River and the Nahanni National Park Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The geography highlights in the park includes the Ragged Range, the South Nahanni River, Flat River, Rabbitkettle Hotsprings, Virginia Falls, the Ram Plateau, Deadman Valley, Doctor Lake, Kraus Hotsprings and nearby are the Cirque of the Unclimbables.
The focus for many tour groups when exploring in the Nahanni National Park Reserve is the monster waterfall located on the South Nahanni River called the Virginia Falls. The waterfall drops 90 metres creating large clouds of mist and a thundering roar.
Wildlife in the Nahanni Wilderness National Park includes caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, moose, black bear, grizzly, bison, wolverine, beaver, lynx, fox, mountain goats, deer and weasels. Birds include waterfowl like loons and red necked grebes.. and predator birds like kestrels, eagles and falcons including the beautiful gyrfalcon.
Hiking trails are not maintained or developed in the park. But there is hiking. The hiking follows wilderness routes. Most hiking and backpacking adventures are best enjoyed with a guiding company. Experienced backpackers only should venture alone in the park.
Some of the hiking routes include the Sunblood Mountain Trail (8 Kilometre one way), the Marengo Falls Trail (4 kilometres one way) and the Glacier Lake Trail (20 kilometres one way). All hikes are considered moderately difficult and hikers should be well prepared for changing climates in all seasons.
How to Get to the Nahanni National Park Reserve
Travel to the community of Fort Simpson, Northwest Territory, Canada. During the summer months access into the park is via charter planes, floatplanes, canoeing, rafting and kayaking. Tour companies and guides operate from Fort Simpson. No road access is available during the the summer months.
Road access is available in the winter months only when an ice road forms connecting to the village of Nahanni Butte in the park. The ice road entrance is located north of Fort Liard, NWT, Canada on the Liard Highway.
Parks & Trails
More to Explore