Four National Parks are located in the Northwest Territories: Aulavik, Nahanni National Park Reverve, Tuktut Nogait and Wood Buffalo National Park.
Paulatuuq – “Place of coal”
Near the western mouth of the Northwest Passage, this is a small, traditional Inuvialuit community with deep roots in hunting, trapping and Arctic-char fishing. It’s also a basecamp for trips to Tuktut Nogait National Park, the Cape Parry Bird Sanctuary, and the Smoking Hills, a perpetually burning coal seam. Access is by air from Inuvik.
Location: 69°21′ N, 124°04′ W
Elevation: 5 metres
Name means: “Place of coal”
Record high / low: 30.3°C / -46.9 °C
Setting: On silty tundra facing Darnley Bay, just east of the Melville Hills at the western exit of the Northwest Passage
Languages: Inuvialuktun, English
Ethnicities: Inuvialuit, non-Aboriginal
Getting here: By air from Inuvik
Founded in: This is the ancestral territory of the Copper Inuit. The community became permanently occupied following the opening of a trading post here in 1935
Best daytrip: To the Smoking Hills, 105 kilometres west at Cape Bathurst, where underground coal seams have smouldered for centuries, sending eerie plumes over the Arctic Ocean
Best expedition: Paddling the Hornaday River, which runs through nearby Tuktut Nogait National Park and empties into the sea just east of Paulatuk
Don’t miss: Purchasing local sculptures and stone-cut prints, for which the community is famous
Come for: The Ikhalukpik Jamboree, held every August, celebrating the return of Arctic char with traditional games, drum dances and other events