Tulita means "Where the Waters Meet" and you'll find this Mountain Dene community where Great Bear River empties into the Mackenzie. Established as a trading post in 1869, Tulita, then called Fort Norman, sits across the river from the Mackenzie Mountains and right underneath the storied Bear Rock. Tulita is your jumping off point for adventures in Náátsih'ch'oh National Park Reserve, as well as the location of some of the most important stories in Dene lore. Fly into Tulita from Norman Wells, or drive up the ice road from Wrigley in the winter.
In 1981, the Canadian government funded a project to revive and document the traditional knowledge required to construct a moose skin boat. These boats were used to transport families, furs, dogs and other goods to the various trading posts along the Mackenzie River. The practice had died off by the 1950s until some Mountain Dene elders were tasked with leading the revival. The boat is made from a spruce frame and eight untanned moose skins, stitched with moose sinew, all collected from the Mackenzie Mountains. Once the boat was ready, the group rowed it down the Keele River to Tulita. The boat dried slowly over the next year and a conservator from the Heritage Centre took care to preserve it before it could be brought to the museum. This boat is on display at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife, but there have been a few other large-scale moose skin boat projects out of Tulita since then.
Bear Rock is a sacred mountain that watches over Tulita. Rising 400 m above the community to the North, Bear Rock is the site where the legendary Dene lawmaker Yamoria slew the giant beavers that were terrorizing the region. According to the story, Yamoria draped the beaver pelts over Bear Rock, and their outline is visible to this day. Hike the Bear Rock Trail to get up close to this special site and take in the incredible view of Tulita, the Mackenzie River and Mackenzie Mountains from the top.
One of Parks Canada's newest parks, Nááts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve is named for another sacred mountain in the Sahtu region. Full of fast-flowing rivers like the Keele, Broken Skull and South Nahanni, Nááts'ihch'oh is your best bet for whitewater adventure. Don't forget to plan a few day-hikes so you can see the park from various angles. Access this wilderness paradise from Tulita.