Welcome to the hub of the Northwest Territories – the transport centre, fishing port and playground of the South Slave region. Really, you could relax on the shores of Great Slave for weeks, but if time is tight, here’s a two-day plan for having a heckuva visit in Hay River.  

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The Dene Cultural Institute in the K'atl'odeeche First Nation outside of Hay River, NWT

First, drop by the Visitor Centre at the entrance to town. Friendly staff will load you up with maps, brochures, helpful advice and strong coffee.

Then wrap your head around the history and culture of Hay River by visiting the Hay River Heritage Centre on Vale Island and the Dene Cultural Institute (above) in the nearby K'atl'odeeche First Nation.

Next, join a fishing charter. Experienced guides will take you angling for walleye, pike, inconnu, lake trout and more on legendary Great Slave Lake.

Hooked on fish? For lunch, head to the Fisherman’s Wharf on Vale Island, where you’ll find the catch of the day and other locally harvested foods, plus Northern gifts and crafts.

 

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The Hay River Golf Course

Fore! Make your way to the grassy, aspen-shrouded Hay River Golf Club, considered the top course in the territory, for nine holes of the northernmost golf you may ever play.

Of, if you’d rather swing a paddle, rent a canoe for a relaxing float down the Hay River, 10 kilometres from the golf course to the Hay River beach.

Finally, spend the evening beachside, at the Hay River Territorial Park campground, kicking back on the sand beneath the midnight sun as the Great Slave waves roll in.  

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Winnie's Dene Art Gallery and Gift Shop in Enterprise, NWT.

After breakfast in town, pack a picnic lunch and point your vehicle south. 

Along the way, check out attractions along the river, such as Paradise Gardens, 24 kilometres south of town. Here you’ll find the Northwest Territories’ leading agricultural area, with pick-your-own berries and other goodies ripening in late summer.

Drop into the small hamlet of Enterprise, the crossroads of the North, where craftshops feature fine Dene artwork (above).

Pitch your tent at the Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park campground, then prepare for an afternoon of fun. 

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Alexandra Falls, outside Hay River, NWT.

There’s sightseeing to do at two magnificent waterfalls – thundering Alexandra Falls, a 32-metre-high plunge, and Louise Falls, a tiered drop with a spiral staircase leading down to the lip.

You can also do some hiking or biking. The eight-kilometre Twin Falls Gorge Trail follows a canyon rim through lush boreal woodlands, offering dramatic vistas and informative signage. You can traverse it yourself, or sign up for an interpretive walk with a local Dene storyteller and tour guide.

Finally, settle in around a campfire. If you stay up late, be sure to scan the sky. It starts to get dark again and that means one thing: the Aurora Borealis may be dancing overhead. 

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Itinerary: two days to Give'r in Hay River 20 9504e0a8-5db1-43b6-b541-da479590f9d8