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Fort Smith Mission Territorial Park – Day Use Area

Fort Smith Mission Heritage Park is all that remains of the original 151-acre Oblate Catholic Mission in what is now the centre of Fort Smith.

For a period of a century between 1876 and the early 1980s, the Roman Catholic Church operated its mission to the entire Western Arctic from here. In the absence of any government school system at the time, the church opened and operated schools across the North, which at that time included all territory north of Edmonton.

The Oblate Mission maintained a Bishop’s Residence, St. Isodore’s Church, assorted sheds, repair shops, a hospital with associated nuns’ residence, a residential school, large fields for the growing of crops, and even an airstrip. Nearby, the church operated docking facilities on the Slave River for their mission boats, a farm, and sawmill.

The park provides an extensive self-guided tour of the historic mission sites, with sign boards describing various aspects of the history and activities of the mission. You can still see:

  • The Bishop’s residence, built in 1911
  • The Cathedral
  • The fields that were cultivated, some of which have been restored
  • The storage shed
  • The carpentry shop
  • Vehicle repair shop
  • Machine shop
  • The hospital building that was built in 1952 to replace earlier structures
  • The Grotto
  • The sites of several other buildings that have been removed

Kakisa River Territorial Park

Kakisa Territorial Park Sign in the Northwest Territories

Take a break to enjoy a picnic or spend the afternoon fishing (in season, of course) along the fast-moving Kakisa River at this quaint territorial park. 

Amenities include washrooms, a boat launch and a picnic/day-use area. Watch for trophy Grayling, too One of the iridescent northern fish’s favourite spawning tributaries is the Kakisa River, and Great Slave Lake is home to the current world record for Arctic Grayling. 

Visitors to this territorial park can also hike the trail to Lady Evelyn Falls, where the Kakisa River drops off a limestone ledge, creating a frothing pool of trophy catches leaping and spinning through the air while fishers cast their lines.

Reach the park from Kakisa, which is at the end of a 13-kilometre detour from Highway 1, approximately two hours from the Alberta border, an hour-and-a-half from Hay River or four hours from the Northwest Territories’ capital, Yellowknife.

Gwich’in Territorial Park

Gwich'in Territorial Park sign in the NWT

The Dempster Highway serves as a boundary for this 8,800-hectare park, which includes two campgrounds (Vadzaih Van Tshik Campground and Gwich’in Territorial Campground), two day-use areas (Ehjuu NJik and Nihtak) and Tithegeh Chii Vitaii Lookout. The park is home to a number of natural wonders of the Mackenzie Delta region: limestone cliffs, rare Arctic plant communities, migratory bird staging areas, and Campbell Lake, an excellent example of a reversing delta.

MacKinnon Territorial Park

MaMacKinnon Territorial Park in the Sahtu region of the Northwest Territories

A perfect stop for Arctic River expeditions, MacKinnon Territorial Park is located on the banks of the Mackenzie River in Norman Wells. This beautiful respite offers a great view of the Mackenzie Mountains and is a favourite camping local for river-trippers.

From here, travellers can take on one of the most challenging hiking trails in Canada — the Canol Trail. This rugged excursion runs 355 kilometres east of Norman Wells, all the way to the Yukon border. The trail was constructed by more than 30,000 workers during World War II in order to help deliver oil from Norman Wells to Whitehorse and Alaska. 

MacKinnon Territorial Park is your perfect launching pad for hiking the trail. There are eight non-powered campsites here, along with washrooms, firewood, a picnic area and a playground. 

Gwich’in Territorial Campground

Gwich’in Territorial Park in the Northwest Territories

Enjoy the spectacular shoreline of Campbell Lake; try your luck fishing, hike in search of unique rocks and fossils, or hit the beach for a swim above the Arctic Circle. These are just a few of the options available at Gwich’in Territorial Campground.

This site, along with the nearby Vadzaih Van Tshik Campground, two day-use areas and the Tithegeh Chii Vitaii Lookout, comprise Gwich’in Territorial Park, home to limestone cliffs, stunning Arctic plants and beautiful scenery. 

During the long summer days, the campground is packed with canoes, fisherfolk, kayakers, birdwatchers and picnics. In winter, the frozen lake is a popular ice-fishing spot. 

The campground, which is only about 30 kilometres south of Inuvik on the Dempster Highway, includes 15 non-powered campsites and four tent sites, washrooms, drinking water, a kitchen shelter and a boat launch.

Jàk Territorial Park

Scenery at Jàk Territorial Park in the Northwest territories

Located just outside of Inuvik, Jàk Territorial Park features an observation tower with excellent views of the surrounding scenery and prime bird-watching opportunities. Watch out for hoary redpolls, bald eagles, yellow-billed loons, and more summer residents of these northern skies.

Jàk comes from the Gwich’in word for “berry,” and true to its name there is an abundance of tasty local berries growing in the park, including wild cranberries, blueberries and cloudberries.

The campground offers six powered and 32 non-powered sites, along with washrooms and showers, drinking water, a kitchen shelter, picnic area, trails, interpretive displays and attentive staff. Camping reservations at Jàk Territorial Park can be made online.

Little Buffalo River Crossing Territorial Park

Little Buffalo River Campground in the Northwest Territories

Located on the scenic Little Buffalo River, about 20 kilometres shy of Fort Resolution and minutes away from Great Slave Lake, this placid campground features 20 powered campsites, washrooms, a kitchen shelter, picnic area and firewood. Take advantage of the boat launch to enjoy some watersports and excellent fishing. Dock your boat a few steps from your campsite.

Blackstone Territorial Park

Blackstone territorial park information center in the Northwest Territories

A hidden gem situated between Fort Liard and Fort Simpson, Blackstone Territorial Park boasts stunning mountain views, abundant wildlife, and a pristine location on the Liard River, downstream from its confluence with the South Nahanni. This is an excellent starting or ending point for canoeists, boaters or anglers. 

At the convergence point of three rivers – the Peace, Liard and Mackenzie – Blackstone offers plenty of exciting activities for campers, picnickers and wilderness enthusiasts. The waters here are perfect for boating, while underneath the waves anglers can hook Arctic Grayling, Trout, and Arctic Char. Visitors should be on the lookout for black and brown bears, moose, hares and other wildlife, as well.

The road to Blackstone Territorial Park is itself part of the attraction. Travellers can reach the park via both the Liard Trail (Highway 7) and the Dehcho Travel Connection. The latter became a popular tourism destination in the ’90s during a contest where travellers of the 3,000-kilometre route were entered into a draw to win an Arctic diamond. Today, many visitors still follow the paths of gold seekers, explorers and trappers on the Deh Cho Travel Connection,visiting historic landmarks, wild parks, well-serviced campgrounds and traditional and modern communities as part of this epic road adventure that takes its name from the Mackenzie River, which is known as the Deh Cho or “Big River.”

Blackstone Territorial Park’s campground features 19 non-powered campsites, washrooms, showers, drinking water, firewood, a kitchen shelter, picnic areas, helpful staff and an intriguing interpretive centre. There’s also a furnished cabin with a woodstove in the park that can be rented. 

Reid Lake Territorial Park

Campsite at Reid Lake Territorial Park in the Northwest territories

Situated along the Ingraham Trail, about 61 kilometres east of Yellowknife, is this excellent basecamp for fishing, swimming, canoeing, hiking, bird-watching, wildlife viewing, and power boating. Basically, if there’s a summer experience worth having in the NWT, you can find it at Reid Lake.

The park’s short 0.70-kilometre hiking trail runs from the campgrounds to the beautiful shore of Reid Lake, passing over Shield rock deeply scored by glaciers and colourful patches of wild berries. Watch for eagles, whiskeyjacks and ravens along your route.

The campground itself features 65 non-powered campsites and 11 tent pads, along with washrooms, drinking water, firewood, a kitchen shelter, picnic areas and a playground.

Reid Lake Territorial Park is also a great launching point for extended canoe trips into the surrounding lake systems. From here, canoeists can access the Lower Cameron River, canoe routes to Jennejohn Lake, and more.

Fred Henne Territorial Park

Fred Henne Territorial Park

Swim at Long Lake’s sandy beach. Camp, picnic, canoe or enjoy the amenities and attractions of nearby Yellowknife. Hike the four-kilometre Prospector’s Trail, highlighting the gold-bearing geology of the area. Or follow the Jackfish and Frame Lake trail system, leading you through through the idyllic shield-country wilderness en route to downtown Yellowknife. The Fred Henne campground offers 62 powered sites, 39 non-powered sites and 12 tent pads, plus washrooms and showers, drinking water, firewood, kitchen shalters and picnic areas, a boat launch, and helpful staff.