Here's 27 reasons why paddling in the Northwest Territories is a splash

Paddling. The Northwest Territories. They go hand in hand. This is the epic liquid realm where Alexander Mackenzie canoed to the Arctic Sea. Where expeditioners trace the fabled Nahanni. Where world-class kayakers frolic in the house-high waves of the Slave. And where paddleboarders explore the rocky shores of Yellowknife Bay. 

So what are you waiting for? Here's 27 reasons you need to get up here and grab life by the paddle. 

1. You can catch some sweet air

Check out her grin! Everyone loves it when they run a wave-train and their bow goes airborne ....

2. Paddling at midnight ...

Don't you wish you were here? Nothing beats being out on the water during the dusky overnight hours, when our Northern world is orange, silent and still. 

3. Getting wet on a hot day

Am I right? Not only does it cool you off, it also cleans you up. No more campfire smell!

4. Landing a fish that's nearly the size of your vessel

Up here, any fisherman with a motorboat can catch a 40-pound Pike. But landing a lunker while you're in a canoe, kayak or paddleboard? That takes true skill. 

5. Being downstream of a roaring waterfall ...

Like Virginia Falls, shown here. That's a four-acre surface of thundering current. Trust us, you don't want to float too close. 

6. That feeling when you wave goodbye to the floatplane ...

... and you realize you're all alone. It's like the weight of the modern world lifts from your shoulders, setting you truly free. 

7. Seeing scenes like this

Paddling in the Northwest Territories takes you places you could never reach any other way. It puts you in the midst of vistas that are out of this world. It transports you – physically, and spiritually. 

8. Portaging

But only when the distance is short, the trail is smooth and there's lots of hands to help. 

9. This campsite

It's on Little Doctor Lake, in the foothills of the Mackenzie Mountains.

10. Or this campsite ...

... on Great Slave Lake's fabled East Arm.

11. Or this campsite

... on Pine Lake in Wood Buffalo National Park. 

12. Paddling celebrations

Like Fort Smith's Paddlefest, where there's tons of ... 

13. Epic playboating

Don't worry. Even if you can't do a "donkey flip," it's still fun to watch.  

14. Paddling ashore to meet the locals

Including these stylish young ladies at the mouth of the Mackenzie River.  

15. The adventurous drive to the put-in 

... because getting there is half the fun. 

16. Paddling in the wake of history

Alexander Mackenzie canoed here. So did John Franklin. And Samuel Hearne. Hood and Back. Thomas Simpson. The list goes on.  

17. Meeting riverside companions

These muskoxen live alongside the Thomsen River, up on Banks Island. It's considered the northernmost navigable river on Earth.  

18. Scouting 

And then running the route exactly as you'd planned. 

19. Watching the river-bottom whoosh past ...

... in a clear, fast-flowing stream. 

20. Day hikes

Give your arms a break and trot up to the nearest overlook. It's always great to get a new perspective on things. 

21. Catching your dinner on a fly rod

When you land your own meal, it tastes twice as good.

22. Riverside hotsprings 

Think of it as a spa in the wilderness. You earned it. Bask as long as you'd like. 

23. Canyons

Paddling along the foot of plunging shore-cliffs and sheer-sided gorges is a special sort of thrill.

24. Storms

But only when they're in the distance and they stay in the distance. 

25. Thrills ...

and a few chills, but no spills. 

26. Learning how to execute a flawless bow draw ...

and then using it at the moment when it counts.  

27. Standing up

Because paddling doesn't have to cramp your style. 

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Located on Vale Island in Hay River, (follow the signs; it’s about 10 kilometres past the information centre), this park offers fantastic swimming on the sandy shores of Great Slave Lake, unique views of barges and fishing vessels plying the waters, and great...

Midway between Fort Simpson and Fort Liard on the Liard Trail, Blackstone Territorial Park boasts stunning mountain views and a prime location on the Liard River, downstream from its confluence with the South Nahanni. This is an excellent starting...

This popular park and campground are located at the junction of Highway 1 and the Trout River (Sambaa Deh in the Slavey language). The river was a traditional transportation route before and during the fur trade. The falls forced travellers to portage around...

Located in the heart of Inuvik, this park offers 19 powered and eight non-powered sites, and convenient access to the town’s attractions. The park is situated on a bluff overlooking the east branch of the Mackenzie River, with a view of the Richardson Mountains....

Just outside Inuvik, this park features an observation tower with excellent views of the surrounding scenery and prime bird-watching. Watch for falcons, eagles and ducks, our summer residents. There is an abundance of cranberries, blueberries and cloudberries that...

This park is perched on a cliff overlooking the Peel River and surrounded by stands of white birch and white spruce trees. It's an ideal place to unwind for a few nights on the long journey up or down the Dempster. The visitor centre offers a fascinating glimpse of the...

On the banks of the Mackenzie River in Norman Wells, MacKinnon Territorial Park offers a great view of the Mackenzie Mountains and is a perfect stop for river-trippers. There are eight non-powered campsites, washrooms, firewood, a picnic area and a playground...