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Why The NWT Should be on Every Canadian's Must See List

A paddler on a lake in the NWT

Why The NWT Should be on Every Canadian's Must See List

It’s an urge you’ve always had. A longing for adventure in a legendary land. A desire to get off
the beaten path, to go somewhere completely new.

Over the years, you’ve heard friends try to describe seeing the spellbinding dance of the
Northern Lights
—before they concede that words can’t come close to doing the lights justice.
Maybe you’ve pictured yourself alone in nature, on remote waters hundreds of kilometres from
the nearest town, engaged in an epic battle with an unseen leviathan.

Or perhaps you want to feel something less tangible, but just as real. You’ve come to notice the
North has a special ability to turn strangers into lifelong friends over the course of a few hours,
after they share intimate moments and once-in-a-lifetime experiences on the land, in the skies,
or on the waters.

Whatever you are seeking, the Northwest Territories will have it. Because here,
you will see things that won’t quite make sense. And it will make the world seem new again.
In summer, the sun barely leaves the sky and the extra-long days will give you superpowers.
When have you ever set out for a paddle at midnight?

Come fall and winter, the skies flare up with fluorescent flames of green, yellow and pink more
than 200 nights every year.
Where else do the skies brighten after the sun goes down?

A man sits in a chair on the beach watching the Northern Lights in the NWT

The Northern Lights

Enjoy a romantic evening and fine Northern dining in a private teepee before snuggling up deep
in a heated seat to watch Northern Lights that are so close you imagine you can touch

Or fly by bush plane to a lakeside Aurora-viewing lodge, and clink a flute of champagne,
comfortably soaking up to your shoulders in a hot tub, as tendrils of light whip across the sky
above you. When the show ends, retreat to your own bush cabin, kept toasty by woodstove,
and sleep easy knowing that if the lights pick back up again, a staff member will come and
gently wake you.

Or travel to an igloo village—a veritable winter wonderland. Spend an evening sampling
Inuvialuit and Gwich’in fare and listening to expert storytellers unwind fantastical local legends
and personal histories, as the Aurora do their age-old dance in the heavens. Later, crawl into
unparalleled comfort under layers of fur blankets in a custom-built igloo, marvelling at the
ingenuity of the Inuit, for a night you will never forget.

A man walks down a snowy highway in the NWT

Road Trips 

One of the most inedible aspects of visiting the Northwest Territories is getting here in the first
place. As you go further north, you will observe the trees get smaller (or disappear
altogether) as the distance between communities increases and the wildlife is closer and wilder than you've ever seen before.

A late-summer’s drive up the Dempster and on to the Arctic Ocean is a must for any lover of the
open road. You will cross some of the nation’s biggest rivers by humble ferry, cruise along
mountain and tundra vistas, and visit some friendly communities, where Northern hospitality is
on full display. Be dazzled by the burst of colours on the barrenlands, which wow you. In Tuktoyaktuk, at the end of the road, cap off your trip with a dip in the Arctic Ocean, the only opportunity Canadians have to drive to the Northwest Passage.

The southern portion of the Northwest Territories is also well within reach from Alberta or B.C.
Take the Dehcho Connection, a 3,000-kilometre wilderness route where bison routinely stop
traffic and a half-dozen roadside waterfalls are sure to take your breath away. Take a detour
into the South Slave region to explore the wonders of Wood Buffalo National Park—the largest
park in all of Canada. Or make a stop in Fort Simpson, the launch pad for day trips into the wild
Eden of Nahanni National Park Reserve, with towering Virginia Falls, ancient canyons and
magnificent spire peaks.

Be sure to bring your tackle box and rod along for your Dehcho Connection adventure, as
creeks, rivers and lakes across the Northwest Territories are veritable underwater highways and
metropolises for Lake Trout, Northern Pike, Arctic Grayling, Walleye and more. Feel the thrill of
reeling in dinner, which you can fry up over a roaring fire at one of the route’s many well-
maintained, RV-accommodating campgrounds.

Paddler enjoy a trip in the NWT

Paddles in Paradise

Where one road stops, others begin.

In the Northwest Territories, our rivers are the original highways that stretch to every corner of this great, wild land.

What will you see as you travel these waterways? Will you gaze at grazing muskoxen along the shores of the Thelon River? Or be one of the few dozen intrepid adventurers to explore the ancient canyons of the Hornaday River in Tuktut Nogait National Park this year? Perhaps you will portage around Virginia Falls, where the South Nahanni River tumbles more than 80 metres in an earth-trembling cascade. Or stop and pick wild strawberries in alpine meadows, a short hike off the Mountain River.

Take a self-powered trip back in time to a natural world untouched by civilization.

Holding a huge Lake Trout in the NWT

Record Breaking Fish

A visit to the Northwest Territories lets you truly get away from it all.

At the NWT’s premium fishing lodges, you don’t have to worry about a thing. Skilled chefs
concoct gourmet meals for you and staff can tailor daily schedules and side-trips to fit your
every whim. All your flight and travel plans are taken care of—really, you just need to show up.
Once you get a few hundred kilometres from the closest town, feel free to turn off your phone
and not look at it again for a week. You won’t be bored—the pristine landscapes and scores of
mighty underwater giants will have your full attention. Here, the waters are so clean and
unpolluted that you can dip a mug in for a drink. And these same lakes and streams are
populated by some of the largest, fighting-est, feistiest fish on the planet.

The Northwest Territories is home to world-record Lake Trout, Northern Pike, Arctic Char and
Arctic Grayling. And your expert guides will know exactly where to look for them.

This is that next-level fishing experience you’ve always been dreaming of. 

Bullock’s Bistro

Iconic Eats

The Northwest Territories has an arts scene as diverse and deep as our land and waters.

And that’s because the NWT is home to many nations: Dene, Inuvialuit and Metis master
artisans create stunning works
with materials harvested from the land. Visit any gallery or
museum to see the intricate beading on handmade moosehide moccasins, the ornate dyed
porcupine quillwork on birchbark baskets, the careful traditional stitching on beaver fur mitts,
the meticulous attention devoted to each detail of a soapstone carving, the perfect symmetry
of each component in a moose hair tufting design. At the many craft or art sales held around
the territory, the artist who created the work will often be sitting at the table in front of you,
selling her or his art.

The Northwest Territories is a place to go to push yourself—and your palette. Whether it’s a
fresh caught fish at the world-famous Bullock’s Bistro or a spread of traditional country food at
a bush camp, a lavish meal of delectable Northern game or a flight of craft beers at the NWT
Brewing Woodyard Pub, the territory is experiencing a culinary renaissance, making
the most of the bounty around it.

This is a trip you have always wanted to make.  Make this the time you
embrace your adventurous side and finally plan to go north to the NWT.

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.