Big mountains, big waters, big hearts

Dehcho means "big river" – referring to the great Mackenzie, 1,600 kilometres long and as much as five kilometres wide, sluicing relentlessly toward the Arctic sea. Flanking the current: The foothills and spires of the Mackenzie Mountains are home to not one but two national park reserves, Nahanni and Nááts'ihch'oh – jewels in Canada's crown and destinations on every paddler's life-list. Despite all this wilderness, the Dehcho is within easy reach. For Alaska Highway roadtrippers, it's a convenient, rustic sidetrip, free from long lines of RVs. The region is also accessible by air and road from Yellowknife. Moose, bison, and black bears ramble the roadsides. And traditional villages thrive – outposts of Dene, Métis, traders, bush pilots and more, whose friendly faces and low-key pace will pacify your soul.

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