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19 things you definitely do *NOT* want to do in Canada's Northwest Territories

Peeking over the edge of Alexandra Falls in the NWT

19 things you definitely do *NOT* want to do in Canada's Northwest Territories

Proceed with caution. Because, while the Northwest Territories is basically the best place on Earth, there are certain mistakes you don't want to make. Do you homework by reviewing these 19 warnings.

One of the colourful locals in the NWT

Don't brag about your hipster beard in front of this guy


Tired of bland, beige personalities? People in the Northwest Territories are brimming with frontier character. It spills out from their beards, big grins, twinkling eyes and mighty handshakes. C'mon up and put some colour in your life.

Standing at the top of Virginia Falls in the NWT

Don't Lose your balance at this spot


Virginia Falls, in Nahanni National Park, is Canada's greatest wilderness cascade. It's a furious wall of whitewater, four acres in size and 300 feet high. It'll blow your mind – but don't let it sweep you off your feet.

Kayaker in the South Slave near Fort Smith, NWT

... And don't flip your boat here


We've got rivers of every description, from mild to wild. The Slave River Rapids, pictured here, boasts house-high waves, luring skilled kayakers from all over the world. Other of our famous rivers – like the Thomsen, the northernmost navigable watercourse on Earth – are flat and placid, perfect for gawking at wildlife and scenery as you drift along.

Sled dog in the NWT

Don't Challenge this sled-dog to a staring contest


Also, don't challenge him to a race. Because he'll leave you in his dust. Huskies are everywhere up here, tugging at their towlines, raring to go. Sign up for a dog-sled adventure and you'll have a wild time with the huskies as they tour you around the North, travelling the old-fashioned way.

Inuvik dancer performing in Inuvik

... Or this man to a dance-off


Inuvialuit drummers. Metis jiggers. Dene tea-dancers. Northerners love to get their groove on. At community festivals and events you'll get a chance to check out their moves. And you'll probably be invited to join in on the dance floor. But be sure to limber up, 'cause whoo-boy, these folks can bust a move.

Muskoxen on the tundra in the NWT

... Or these guys to 'King of the Mountain'


Imagine a linebacker with four-wheel-drive traction and titanium horns. That's your basic muskox. When these remarkable Northern ungulates feel threatened, they form a circle, lower their battering-ram of a head, and basically say "Bring it on!" Concussions are no fun, so don't take them up on the offer. Just stay back and take all the photos you want.

Two people sticking their tongues to the ice road in the NWT

Please don't get your tongue stuck to an ice road


Our frozen highways are basically the world's longest Popsicle. But trust us, you do not want to find your mouth-parts glued to a busy road. Also, please don't drill a hole in the highway to go ice-fishing.

Man holding an impressive Lake Trout in the NWT

Never lift with your back


A 60-pound Lake Trout is a hernia waiting to happen. Remember, lift with your legs. Better yet, bring a friend to share the load.

Man in parka trimmed with fur on the tundra in the NWT

... And don't forget your mittens


The Northwest Territories is many things, but hot it's not. If you come in winter, you'll want to bundle up. Luckily, many of our guides and outfitters can supply you with Arctic-grade outdoor gear. Or pay a visit to one of our local craftshops, where beautiful and cozy sealskin mitts, beaver hats and moosehide parkas are available for sale.

Aurora over a campground in the NWT

Don't go to bed early on this evening


Look, the fact is, when you visit the Northwest Territories, you're going to lose sleep. While the Northern Lights are shimmying in the sky, bed is not an option. You can sleep when you go back home.

Time lapse photo showing the midnight sun in the NWT

And don't bother trying to sleep tonight


So like we were saying, sleep is not a priority here. In summer, the sun shines for weeks on end, with no night to get in the way of the fun. Fancy a round of golf at midnight? A paddle at 3 a.m.? Heck, do both, and then go fishing before breakfast.

Two people standing at the frozen Arctic Ocean sign

Don't try hitchhiking from here


Our all-season highways and winter ice-roads will take you to the ends of the Earth. Be sure you have a plan for getting home.

Bears along the Dempster Highway

... Or here


Ah yes, grizzlies on the Dempster Highway. You're definitely in bear country up here, but truth be told, they're not too much of a hazard. Keep a clean camp, don't slather yourself in fish-guts, and you'll almost certainly be just fine.

Climbing in the Cirque of the Unclimbables in the NWT

Don't wait until now to think about the bathroom


The Cirque of the Unclimables is legendary for having some of the greatest climbing routes in the world. If you're the kind of alpinist who likes this sort of thing, good for you. For those of us who are afraid of heights, though, the view is just fine from the ground.

Paddlers embarking on a trip in the Sahtu

Or now to wonder 'did i bring my tent?'


The great thing about the East Arm of Great Slave Lake is that it's totally isolated. No roads, no crowds – just you and the fish and the shore-cliffs. The downside is that you won't find a camping shop within about 200 miles. Pack accordingly.

Truck travelling on an ice road in the NWT

Or now to remember about winter tires


Our ice roads are a great place to take a spin. Literally. So drive with caution. As long as you respect the speed limits, you'll go far.

Man taking a short dip in the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktuk

Don't stay in this water too long


Swimming in the Arctic Ocean is like a full-body ice cream headache. It'll make you feel alive. Just be sure to get out once your lips turn blue.

Vehicle showing the dust on the Dempster Highway

Don't be a clean-freak about your car


Don't bother spit-polishing your automobile before driving to the Northwest Territories. What with our dusty, lonesome highways, we're pretty relaxed about cleanliness up here. Heck, most of us only wash our vehicle once a year – whether it needs it or not.

Cirque of the Unclimbables in the Nahanni Range

And for Pete's sake, don't wait until you're in this spot to remember your camera


Pack plenty of camera batteries too. Because the Northwest Territories is the prettiest darn place on Earth.

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