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Our “Rush Hour” you’ll actually enjoy!

“Commute” with nature in the Spectacular Northwest Territories

Life is too short to spend it stuck in stop-and-go traffic. For the finest, funnest way to get around, hang up your keys, grab your paddle and launch into the Northwest Territories.

Our waterways are famous – the Nahanni, the Slave, the Horton and more. When you ride their rapids, you’ll be cruising in the wake of legendary explorers, following the ancient routes of Indigenous travelers, and experiencing a world untamed.

Wanna be transported by the rivers of the Northwest Territories? Check out these six whitewater legends:

Broken Skull River

Ominous-sounding but actually quite friendly, the newly popular Broken Skull River boasts 150 kilometres of splashy, scenic fun. The river slides south through the peaks and gorges of two alpine parks, Nááts’ihch’oh and Nahanni, before finally disgorging into the fabled South Nahanni River. Along the way, guided beginners and do-it-yourself intermediates will bask in hotsprings, slink through tight canyons, gape at virgin mountainscapes, and bounce through delightful rapids with names like Pinball, Thank You, Landslide Alley and Lafferty’s Rival.

Location: Sahtu & Dehcho regions
Indigenous name: Pı̨ı̨p’enéh łéetǫ́ǫ́ Deé
Attractions: hotsprings, falls, tufa mounds
Length: 150 kilometres
Source: Divide Lake
Mouth: South Nahanni River
Environment: Alpine
Rating: Flatwater to Class II+
Access from: Fort Simpson, Norman Wells

Horton River

There’s wild country, and then there’s the Barrenlands. The largest unpeopled expanse in the Western Hemisphere, the rock-ribbed, treeless sprawl of the eastern Northwest Territories is fabled among wilderness paddlers: where else can you float for weeks without seeing another soul? The Horton is a legendary Barrenlands river, featuring exotic wildlife (like caribou and muskoxen), big-sky scenery, and swift, crystalline waters. Near the end, three limestone canyons offer technical whitewater.

Location: Western Arctic region
Attractions: Muskox, caribou, beluga, the Smoking Hills
Length: 618 kilometres
Source: Nunavut border
Mouth: Franklin Bay, Arctic Ocean
Environment: Barrenlands
Rating: Flatwater to Class IV
Access from: Yellowknife, Inuvik, Paulatuk

Keele River

Washing through the vast valleys of the Mackenzie Range, the broad, turquoise Keele combines staggering wilderness scenery with gentle, entry-level whitewater. Rapids consist of swirls, riffles and wave-trains that can be run for fun or, for those more cautious, easily avoided. Jawdropping vistas include features like the towering Flowerpot, Shezal Canyon and the Talking Cliffs. And be sure to bring your fly-rod – the alpine fishing is (so to speak) off the hook.

Location: Sahtu region
Indigenous name: Begádeé
Attractions: Moose, Dall sheep, Shezal Canyon, the Talking Cliffs
Length: 410 kilometres
Source: Macmillan Pass
Mouth: Mackenzie River
Environment: alpine tundra, mountains, boreal plains
Rating: Flatwater to Class III
Access from: Tulita, Norman Wells

Mountain River

A favourite among river guides, the Mountain is a frisky, tireless romp through the trackless Mackenzie Range. This remote and muscular river offers days-on-end of continuous rapids with just one portage. The paddling is technical and the current – squeezed by six steep-walled canyons – is intimate, with the perpetual whitewater forcing even seasoned paddlers to stay on their toes. Expeditioners can also expect wild caribou, badland “moonscapes,” tufa mounds and fields of wild strawberries.

Location: Sahtu region
Attractions: Grizzlies, Dall sheep, canyons
Environment: Alpine
Length: 370 kilometres
Source: Yukon border
Mouth: Mackenzie River
Rating: Class II-III
Access from: Norman Wells

Slave River

Where the burly Slave River smacks into the immovable Precambrian Shield you’ll find a frothing labyrinth with the finest “playboating” in Canada. The Slave River Rapids are legendary: monstrous features like Rockem Sockem, Rollercoaster, Molly’s Nipple and the Edge lure professional-grade kayakers from all over the world. Novice boaters have fun here too, as there are literally thousands of mild channels, eddies and play-waves. Be sure to launch with a local; they’ll keep you away from the gnarly stuff. Slave River Paddlefest, held in early August, is the best time to come.

Location: South Slave region
Indigenous name: Des Nedhé
Attractions: Bison, pelicans, house-high waves
Environment: Boreal forest, Canadian shield
Length: 434 kilometres
Source: Peace River Delta
Mouth: Great Slave Lake
Rating: Flatwater to Class VI
Access from: Fort Chipewyan, Fort Smith & Fort Resolution

South Nahanni River

Deservedly the most hallowed wilderness river in Canada, the South Nahanni washes through its namesake, the paradise of Nahanni National Park Reserve. Lucky paddlers embark on trips here ranging from one to three weeks. The wildlife is epic, the hikes panoramic, the canyons humbling, and the rapids – with names like Hell’s Gate, the Rock Gardens and Lafferty’s Riffle – are thrilling for intermediate canoeists. Plus, of course, there’s Virginia Falls, twice the height of Niagara and a must-see wonder of the natural world.

Location: Dehcho & Sahtu region
Indigenous name: Tehjeh Deé
Attractions: Virginia Falls, Kraus Hotsprings, hoodoos, tufa mounds, canyons
Environment: Alpine
Length: 540 kilometres
Source: Mount Christie
Mouth: Liard River
Rating: Flatwater to Class IV
Access from: Fort Simpson, Nahanni Butte

To learn more about the spectacular rivers of the Northwest Territories, check out our Paddling section, where you can find more stories, great packages, and plenty of operators that’ll ensure you experience the trip of a lifetime.

Simpson Air (and its predecessor) is the oldest continuously-operated flying service in the Mackenzie Valley, established in the early 1960s.......

At Nahanni River Adventures we outfit and guide canoe and raft trips on Canada’s renowned South Nahanni River and a select......

Yellow Dog Lodge is a comfortable lodge with 3 private cabins for our guests. The lodge is a short (15 minute) floatplane ride from Yellowknife. Located on Duncan and Graham Lakes, the lodge is your hub for adventure. Choose from an additional 5 lakes for guided day trip excursions. Each lake is unique and offers unspoiled first class fishing. We are the only lodge that operates guided trips on each of these remote lakes located in the NWT taiga wilderness. Packaged trips feature superb sport fishing and safe outdoor adventure. The lakes and streams offer the finest Lake Trout, Northern Pike, Walleye and Arctic Grayling in the region. As an added bonus, our guests will enjoy the midnight sun and may even catch the northern lights later in the fall or early spring....

Kasba Lake Lodge is famous for providing guests access to incredible triple trophy fishing. Huge Lake Trout, ferocious Northern Pike......

Create your own story. We offer a variety of services to make your Sahtu adventure a reality! We offer everything from......

Remote private wilderness paradise on Little Doctor Lake, 100 km west of Fort Simpson. Accommodates 20 in cabins. Fishing, swimming,......

Canoe North, located in Hay River, Northwest Territories offers kayak and canoe rentals and sales. We can set you up for a......

Northern and Remote Wilderness Adventures Ltd. (NARWAL) is a small, friendly, majority Aboriginal owned and operated family business. Our reputation......

To truly experience the Northwest Territories, take your camping gear for a highway driving adventure! Long ribbons of road without......

An Arctic Barrenlands trophy fishing adventure for the serious sportsman. Located on Lynx Lake (420 km east of Yellowknife) Lynx......

Call us about our exciting year-round packages and experience the best of the Dehcho region and Denendeh....