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What to do in the South Slave region

The South Slave region of the NWT, located between the south shore of Great Slave Lake and the southern border on the 60th parallel, is known to many roadtrippers, wildlife enthusiasts, and waterfall chasers. If you’re looking for big fish, bigger wildlife, and the biggest national parks, here’s everything you must see in the South Slave Region.

Take A Pic At The 60th Parallel

As an introduction to the South Slave Region, plan to stop at the 60th Parallel Territorial Park, a scenic riverside campground and visitor information centre along NWT Highway 1 at  the NWT/Alberta border. 

At this centre, open May 15th to September 15th, you will find brochures, maps, fishing licences, camping permits, a pay phone, washrooms, and your first taste of legendary Northern hospitality – expect to receive a warm coffee or refreshing beverage when the centre is staffed. Arts and crafts are on display, and video presentations offer a glimpse of the Northern way of life and what to expect during your visit. 

Fall in love with Twin Falls

The Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park, one of the most popular campgrounds in the NWT, serves as a perfect base for camping enthusiasts to venture into nearby communities like Hay River while still being immersed in the spectacular landscapes of the South Slave Region. 

The park has three main areas, located between the Mackenzie Highway and the Hay River all connected by a beautiful trail: Alexandra Falls Day Use Area, Louise Falls Campground & Day Use Area, and the Escarpment Creek Group Campsite. All three areas are well signposted on the highway.

Follow a flat, forested trail upriver a few kilometres and you will reach two spectacular waterfalls: the multi-level Louise Falls and the taller, flashier Alexandra Falls, a 33 metre high (109 feet) earthshaking torrent. Nearby, you’ll find viewing platforms and picnic facilities. 

Road Trips To Excitement in Enterprise

Enterprise has always been synonymous with the open road and it’s your first major junction for road-tripping adventure. The community got its start back in 1948 to serve travellers on the first highway constructed in the Northwest Territories. Then, as now, this was the place where two exciting paths diverged. There is a marked trail in town that will lead you to a stunning lookout over Escarpment Creek.

Highway 2 leads northeast to Great Slave Lake  and Wood Buffalo National Park, and the South Slave communities of Hay River, Fort Resolution, and Fort Smith; the Mackenzie Highway, meanwhile, sets off northwest – toward Yellowknife in the North Slave region, or to Fort Simpson and beyond in the Dehcho region.

In 2023, Enterprise was one of the communities affected by the wildfires across the territory. Although the community of approximately 120 residents lost some important landmarks and saw many changes, its heart stayed the same. Enterprise is still home to its residents, and the community is undergoing efforts to revitalize what have always been its enduring and spectacular qualities.

Head On Over To Hay River

When you see how much there is to do in and around Hay River, you’ll understand why it’s often referred to as “The Hub” of the North. It’s the territory’s second-largest community and a bustling transportation centre on Great Slave Lake.

One of Canada’s largest inland ports, Hay River is also home to the only rail connection in the NWT. With the arrival of the Mackenzie Highway in 1949 and the Great Slave Lake Railway in 1964, Hay River (132 km or 82 miles north of the Alberta border) evolved into today’s busy commercial fishing and shipment centre, as well as a friendly and dynamic town loved by residents and visitors alike.

Enjoy some of the best fishing in Canada on Great Slave – North America’s deepest lake and the 10th largest in the world. Don’t want to venture out on the water? There are plenty of local fish and other tasty treats available at Hay River’s Fisherman’s Wharf market every Saturday during the summer starting from Indigenous peoples day on June 21st until September long weekend . 

Nearby Hay River you will also find the best sandy beaches in the North, with endless dunes stretching out along Great Slave Lake, which are ideal for camping, strolling, and hiking, and filled with beautiful driftwood.

You can also build in a game of golf at the Hay River Golf Club— even if your clubs are safely back home. This nine-hole course, billed as the prettiest golf course in the North, features artificial greens that will challenge every golfer. The course hugs the meandering banks of the Hay River, and tall, white-trunked aspens line the course as an accent to the green of the fairways.

Find Adventure Around Fort Smith

For an immersion in Northern wildlife, head to Fort Smith, the jumping-off point to Wood Buffalo National Park.


The park is home to many spectacular wildlife species, including whooping cranes, bison, pelicans, wolves, and more. Plan to tour the Wood Buffalo Park Visitor Reception Centre which features a video presentation, exhibits, park maps and information, souvenirs, and the Great Northern Discovery Dome — the park’s own planetarium. 

In Fort Smith, you’ll also find the Northern Life Museum, which features displays of an authentic northern trading post, a typical northern kitchen from the 1940s, two mounted adult bison, a traditional trapper’s cabin, a 1965 Polaris Sno-Traveler, and a riverbank scene featuring a birch bark canoe.

Fort Smith is also known by whitewater paddling enthusiasts around the world. With its location at the Slave River Rapids, Fort Smith is in a prime position to host the premiere whitewater festival – Slave River Paddlefest. Experts host lessons when they aren’t competing – a perfect opportunity for beginners or adventurous souls who want to learn a few new skills.

Hiking trails also lead from Fort Smith. Try out the Mountain Portage Loop, hike that provides stunning views of the rapids, the American white pelican nesting sanctuary as well as the nearby sandy beaches with warm water. In winter, experience the Twin Towers trail network, which provides excellent terrain for snow machines and all-terrain vehicles, as well as mountain bikes and cross-country skiers with dogs. 

Wood Buffalo Is Full Of Wildlife

Wood Buffalo National Park was designated in 1983 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its biological diversity and thriving population of wild bison. 

You may also see black bears, martens, bald eagles, lynxes, great gray owls, hawks, marmots, beavers, wolves, peregrine falcons, red foxes, ruffed grouses, sandhill cranes, snowshoe hares, snowy owls, moose, wolverines—and the world’s northernmost population of red-sided garter snakes, which form communal dens within the park. 

Grizzly bears, cougars, wild horses, and muskoxen have been recorded within, and in the vicinity of, the park.

Wood Buffalo National Park also contains the only natural nesting habitat for the endangered whooping crane and even the world’s largest beaver dam, measuring an astounding 850 metres (2,789 feet) long.

The park is the size of Switzerland, and comprises a wide diversity of landscapes: salt plains, buffalo prairies, boreal forests, beaver marshes, karst badlands, and the world’s largest freshwater delta. You could explore its cavernous Angus sinkhole, the mysterious Nyarling River (which disappears underground), and the sudsy Little Buffalo River Falls.

The park is also the backdrop to seven hiking trails with varying difficulty. A good place to start is the Lakeside Trail. It’s 3.1 km (two miles) one way from the Pine Lake Recreation Area. 

The park also teems with interest and life under the cover of night. In 2013, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada designated Wood Buffalo National Park as Canada’s newest – and the world’s largest – dark-sky preserve. 

The designation helps preserve nighttime ecology for the park’s large populations of bats, nighthawks, and owls, as well as providing opportunities for visitors to experience the Northern Lights.

Relax and Reconnect in Fort Resolution

To the east of Fort Smith lies Fort Resolution (Denı́nu Kų́ę́, pronounced “deh-nih-noo-kwenh,” or “moose island place”). It’s found on the mouth of the Slave River on the shores of Great Slave Lake near the end of the Fort Resolution Highway.

Just before the community you will find Little Buffalo RiverCampground.  This idyllic spot is a great place to fish for Pickerel and Whitefish.  The river flows into the Great Slave Lake where you can catch trophy Lake Trout and Pike.

The northern fur trade got its foothold where the East Arm juts northward into Great Slave Lake.

Parks Canada designated this 8.8-hectare (21 acres) expanse — along the site of a Hudson’s Bay Co. post — as a national historic site. This and other trading posts in the Region began operating as early as 1791.

The oldest continuously inhabited community in the Northwest Territories, trapping remains a key local industry in Fort Resolution, along with commercial fishing and timber harvesting. For an experience of traditional life in the South Slave, Fort Resolution is a must-visit.

As the Northwest Territories’ tiniest town, Kakisa is welcoming, rooted in tradition, rustic, and peaceful for locals and visitors. The community comprises fewer than 40 people living in an idyllic lakefront wilderness. 

Kakisa boasts easy access to Lady Evelyn Falls, where the Kakisa River drops off a limestone ledge, creating a frothing pool where arctic grayling leap and fisher folk cast their lines, immersed in the unforgettable beauty of the South Slave.

Watch as the Kakisa River jumps off the ancient coral reef, forming a crescent-shaped, 17-metre-high (56 feet) curtain of spray. You can follow a staircase leading into the gorge at the base of the falls. Lady Evelyn Falls Territorial Park is nearby, with hiking trails, picnic facilities, and a picturesque campground.

Spot Big Bison in Fort Providence

On your way to Fort Providence, keep your eyes peeled for bison too. Thousands of bison dwell in the nearby Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary just north of Fort Providence (into the North Slave Region), and they can often be seen right in town, wandering the streets and grazing in yards.

Note the landmark Mackenzie River Deh Cho Bridge on the Yellowknife Highway near Fort Providence, a 1.1-km (more than half a mile long) truss bridge, which opened in 2012, across a nearly one mile span of the Mackenzie River.

It’s twice as long as any other bridge in northern Canada and is suspended more than 30 metres (99 feet) above the water. It provides picturesque views of the “Big River” and the surrounding boreal woodlands.

The natural beauty, variety of adventure, and rich culture of the NWT are on full display in the South Slave Region. Whether you’re road tripping, paddling, fishing, camping, hiking, or flying through, you’ll find the trails of the South Slave will lead you to something spectacular.

Ready for the road to adventure? Plan your route along the best scenic road trips through the NWT – you’re sure to find a spectacular horizon calling to you.

The Northwest Territories is home to some of the most pristine national parks in Canada. The humbling beauty and wild landscapes of the North are on full display. Read our guide to the 6 Canadian national parks in the NWT  for a taste of what awaits you there.