In the Northwest Territories you’d be hard pressed to find a territorial park or campground that doesn’t boast idyllic riverside campsites, breathtaking views of glittering lakes, or the soothing, steady rumble of a local waterfall. Bunk down for a night or a week and have a splash:
No need to bring the white noise machine on this camping trip. At Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park, not far from the town of Enterprise, the comforting sounds of cascading water will help you drift off to sleep. An easy hiking trail will take you from the dramatic 32-metre Alexandra Falls to the gentler but still impressive Louise Falls (be sure to descend the spiral staircase to the base!). Picnic tables and kitchen shelters are available.
If you’re looking for a park with great swimming and beach access, look no further than Fred Henne Territorial Park, on the shores of Long Lake in Yellowknife. Book a campsite on a high rocky outcrop that provides a stellar view of the lake, then wander down to the beach to play volleyball or bob around on your favourite floatie. A few kilometres of trail (or a quick drive) will take you into town.
Formerly called The Fort of the Forks, Fort Simpson overlooks the meeting of the epic Liard and the even-mightier Mackenzie. Just downstream of the confluence, in a shady glade of aspens, is placid Fort Simpson Territorial Park. From here it's a quick jaunt to the visitor centre, the golf course, and to the heart of town, while next door is the fabled Papal Flats, where Pope John Paul II held mass for the Indigenous peoples of Canada back in the 1980s.
Not far from the quaint Dene village of Kakisa, Lady Evelyn Falls Territorial Park features 23 powered campsites, plus running water -- yes, washrooms and showers, but also a giant pourover where the Kakisa River washes across a limestone escarpment. From the parking lot, a short trail leads to the falls, where a staircase will take you down to the base. There, Northern Pike, Pickerel and Arctic Grayling abound in the frothy pools.
The biggest, most blissful beach in the North sprawls along Great Slave Lake just in front of the town of Hay River. There, you'll find the perfectly situated Hay River Territorial Park. A constant supply of driftwood washes up on the shore, providing you with a place to hang your towel after you’ve gone for a dip. More than 30 powered campsites beckon you to stay the night.
Roaring directly beneath the Mackenzie Highway not far from the community of Jean Marie River, flashy, splashy Sambaa Deh Falls gets deserved attention from motorists. The nearby Sambaa Deh Falls Territorial Park is a peaceful, spruce-shrouded oasis. And if you take a stroll upstream you’ll come to Coral Falls, a sweeter, shyer falls that you’ll likely have all to yourself.
Like a string of pearls, the Ingraham Trail stretches out from Yellowknife, linking together a wealth of glittering waterside parks. As you follow the highway, you’ll find beautiful campgrounds, boat launches and swimming access at Prelude Lake and Reid Lake parks as well as day use swimming and boating areas at the Yellowknife River, Madeline Lake, Pontoon Lake, Prosperous Lake, Powder Point and Cameron River Crossing Territorial Parks.
The friendly town of Fort Smith is situated at a historic portage around the wild Slave River Rapids. It's no wonder, then, that the lushly wooded Queen Elizabeth Territorial Park is perched practically on the riverbank. Wander along forested trails to see rare white pelicans feeding and breeding on mid-river islands -- and thrill to the sight of house-high waves pounding furiously in the aptly named Rapids of the Drowned.