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Adventure thrives in the Dehcho region. This is the heartland of our most famous national park, the Nahanni. The mighty Mackenzie River flows through here on its way to the Arctic Ocean. The eager Liard joins in. Mountains spring up - the Ragged Range, Sunblood Peak and more. This is a place of journeys.
While in summer the region throngs with RVers and paddlers, winter offers a different experience.
The local Dehcho Dene might say winter is the North's finest season. Venturing out on the land this time of year is a spiritual experience. Sound is muted by gentle snow. There's not a footstep in sight. You're the only one here.
For generations the Dene have thrived during these frosty months, when the waters freeze over and the landscape opens up. And they've developed some ingenious methods of getting around.
How you do it is up to you. Each mode of travel is in a league of its own. Ideally, you'll try them all; but if you can only do one, pick the one that resonates most with you.
An integral part of life in the North, snowshoeing is the classic way to move about up here, and one of the best ways to experience winter on your own terms.
The Dene developed snowshoes eons ago, adapting them to fit the conditions of the subarctic landscape. Today, snowshoes are used mostly for recreation, though traditional folk still wear them on the trapline and for gathering wood at camp.
Some enthusiasts still prefer the old-school kind, made of wood and sinew. They freeze less readily and are generally quieter. Modern designs, meanwhile, use aluminum and composite materials that are more resilient to water, and crampons for extra grip.
Whatever style you fancy, snowshoeing is a great way to explore the Dehcho region. The snow smoothes out the Northern wilds, softening your footfalls, allowing you to glide through the country like striding on clouds. And after every snowfall, the trails are new again.
Moving in silence, you'll marvel at the tracks of hare and moose, at birds flitting among the frosted spruce, and at the iridescent sundogs or quivering Northern Lights.
Best of all, with nothing between you and the spirit of the Earth, you'll get in touch with the heart of life in the Northwest Territories.
A little faster than snowshoes, cross-country skis let you glide over the snow. Armed with two poles, you can cover lots of ground. Unlike with alpine skiing, there aren’t any ski lifts to line up for or aching knees after a long day.
Set your own pace and immerse yourself in the majesty of the Dehcho’s landscape. Watch the sun peak out above snow-tipped mountains parked on the horizon. Admire the serenity of trees encased in white, among snow drifts endlessly rolling into the distance.
Cross-country skiing is an energy efficient way of covering ground. Learning the kick and glide technique is easy: you take a step forward and glide for a short distance before switching the weight to your other leg.
You can go as fast or as slow as you want. On the Dehcho terrain, it’s probably best to take your time.
The North was built by dogsled. Once the favoured method of covering ground, mushing is more recreational today. And, as we say up here, its ever fun! There’s nothing like blazing a trail on a sled pulled by huskies with the fresh wind rushing past.
Dogsledding teaches you to slow down, to take one breath at a time, to notice the world flowing by. You’re reminded that it’s about going, not about getting there. Look how the snow glitters; so beautiful! The evergreens, incredible. The air so crisp, so invigorating!
Northern huskies are no ordinary pups. Mushers pride themselves on raising dogs as hearty as they are lovable. Spending time at the kennel with the dogs is almost the best part.
An experienced musher will teach you the basics before you hit the trail. You’ll get to know the dogs, discovering that each has its own personality, its own skills, its own quirks.
Then its time to “mush.” If you want to travel in style, call shotgun and hop in the sled basket – the “cariole” – while a professional takes you on the ride of a lifetime.
Or, you can take the reins yourself. Remember: “gee” for right, “haw” for left, and never let go of the sled.
There aren’t any official dogsledding tour providers in the Dehcho, but local tour operators can likely hook you up with an area dog-driver who’d love to show you the trails.
Or, you can step aboard the runners during winter and spring festivals in certain communities, such as Fort Liard, where mushers provide dogsled rides.
Dogsleds may be the North's iconic vehicle, but snowmobiles leave them in the drifts. These "iron dogs" have taken over as the preferred mode of transport. When speed is king, they can't be beat - and plus, you don't need to feed them.
Equipped with two stabilizing skis and powered tracks, you'll absolutely tear through snow.
A tour operator will get you set up on a primed and ready machine and take you on a tour over snowdrifts and down fresh trails.
Sightseeing is easy when you've got a mighty engine to get you around. You'll hit all the best Aurora-viewing spots in no time.
And, if you've got a real need for speed, sign up for a snowmobile drag race at Fort Simpson's Beavertail Jamboree. But be warned: the locals ride their "sleds" eight months a year, and won't give up the advantage easily.
In Dehcho, you get to set the pace of exploration. A snowshoeing trek through the boreal forest, a dogsled ride on a hushed trail, or racing down a groomed track - it's your adventure. Get in touch with one of our tour operators and prepare to experience the magnificent Dehcho.
Liidlii Kue First Nation