These 5 flightseeing tours will send your heart soaring

These 5 flightseeing tours will send your heart soaring

If you want to get the lay of the land in the Northwest Territories, take to the air.

Flightseeing adventures lift off from many of our scenic communities. Climb aboard and you'll have a view of the Northland that folks down beneath can't imagine.

Steep peaks and plunging waterfalls swoop into view. Elusive herds of bison and caribou march directly below. Remote ghost towns, all but erased from the map, come alive. Legendary lakes and barrens sprawl before you.

When you come back to earth, an hour or a day later, your mind will be expanded. You'll have witnessed unknowable things, and have seen past the bend of the world. And still, your heart will be soaring.

The Canol Trail in the Northwest Territories from the sky

#5 Canol Trail

This is a flight through history.

Departing from the town of Norman Wells, your flightseeing tour will take you twisting through the Mackenzie Mountains, tracing the Canol Trail – a ghostly military-supply route carved through impossible country during the frenzy of World War Two.

You'll witness the mouldering evidence of this monumental endeavour – airstrips, barracks, old army trucks, and remnants of the road-bed.

Plus, you'll see famous Dodo Canyon, proud Carcajou Falls, and wild critters (like grizzlies, caribou, moose and mountain sheep) that have never laid eyes on a human being.

Great Slave Lake flightseeing tours in the Northwest Territories

#4 The East Arm

The East Arm of Great Slave may be the most scenic swath of lakeshore in Canada.

Taking off from Yellowknife, you'll soar over this glittering expanse of trout-filled bays, cliff-flanked channels, and red-rock island.

Below you'll see sailboats leaning against the breeze, fishing lodges busy with anglers, and historic outposts from the North's explorer-past.

Muskoxen are often spotted here, and moose and bears, too.

And pure glory: a paradise, in blue, green and gold. It's the prettiest sight you'll ever see, from the perfect vantage point, a thousand feet high and floating.

Wood Buffalo National Park from the air in the Northwest Territories

#3 Wood Buffalo National Park

Here it is: the biggest protected area in North America, rolling out before you like a canvas of grandeur.

Wood Buffalo has just a handful of roads, meaning most of this Switzerland-sized park can only be experienced from the air.

You'll see the furious house-high waves of the Slave River Rapids, the glittering and otherwordly Salt Plains, and the biologically teeming Peace-Athabasca Delta – Earth's greatest inland estuary.

You'll also see the park's namesakes: the biggest herd of wild bison left in North America, browsing the boreal plains and kicking up dust.

To look down upon them is to peer backwards in time, into a pure and primordial age. Drink it in.

The Mackenzie Delta from the sky in the Northwest Territories

#2 The Mackenzie Delta

Just upstream from Inuvik, Canada's greatest river splits into a million tendrils and the whole world turns into water.

Your pilot will guide you out over the Mackenzie Delta, weaving above its maze of channels and pointing out the birds and beasts that thrive in the liquid below.

Farther along, there's the Arctic Ocean, often sheathed in ice, sometimes splashing with whales, and always wrapped in mystery as it stretches toward the pole.

Also here: pingos! Those famous, ice-filled hills, erupting from the tundra in Parks Canada's Pingo Canadian Landmark.

And finally, plucky Tuktoyaktuk, our hub of Inuvialuit culture, perched precariously on the polar shore, proud of its title as the Northwest Territories' largest outpost north of the treeline.

Nahanni National Park Reserve and Virginia Falls from the air

#1 Nahanni National Park

Nahanni is the granddaddy of all flightseeing destinations. When your plane rises from Fort Simpson, the famous features will soon leap into view.

Your pilot will call out their names: the Headless Range. Deadmen Valley. Hell's Gate. Sunblood Peak, Lotus Flower Tower and the Cirque of the Unclimables. Little Doctor Lake. Scimitar Canyon. The Moose Ponds and Rabbitkettle Mound.

And of course the centrepiece of it all, Virginia Falls, 30 stories high and roaring beneath your wingtip, too mighty to be believed.

It's a tour every Canadian should take at least once – a pilgrimage, almost. For everyone else, it will merely be the trip of a lifetime.

Get our Free Explorers' Guide

Is the Northwest Territories on your must-see list? Order or download our free Explorers' Guide to plan your trip of a lifetime.