Please note that several NWT communities are still under evacuation alerts or orders due to the wildfire situation: see more information about the affected communities.
Get Your Feet Wet with Beginner Canoeing, Rafting and Kayaking Adventures
The waterways of the Northwest Territories are the perfect place to find your love for canoeing, kayaking, rafting and more. For centuries the people of the NWT have travelled the land’s spectacular lakes and rivers by canoe. Today there are countless opportunities to get your paddle in the water and push off on a paddling adventure down the same timeless routes. For beginners, the placid lakes and serene rivers of the North are just as beautiful as the more challenging options. Whether you’re renting a paddleboard to tour Yellowknife’s Houseboat Bay, kayaking out to a hidden picnic spot, or joining a multi-day canoe trip through any of the unique landscapes in the NWT, your paddling adventure is sure to be one-of-a-kind. Let your life-long passion for paddling start here in the NWT.
In the Dehcho, the southwestern region of the NWT, the legendary Nahanni National Park Reserve is a bucket list destination for canoeists and rafters of all skill levels. Don’t be intimidated - guided canoe and rafting trips make many of the territory’s spectacular lakes and rivers an adventurous, rewarding, and safe experience for novices and beginners. In communities like Fort Simpson, Fort Liard, and Nahanni Butte, a quick canoe trip from one of these communities can be a serene way to get out onto the land. In the North Slave region, there is no shortage of canoe, kayak, and paddleboard outfitters so you can make the most of this region's amazing waterways. There are plenty of options; canoe along the amazing red cliffs of the East Arm and Thaidene Nëné outside of Łutsel K'e for a day, try a guided canoe trip down the remote and peaceful Thelon River in the Barrenlands, or tour Yellowknife’s Houseboat Bay by paddleboard.
There are just as many accessible canoeing, kayaking, and rafting adventures in the South Slave, Sahtu, and Western Arctic Regions. Hay River provides easy access to the southern coast of Great Slave Lake for all your paddling needs and in the Sahtu, you can enjoy peace in the hot springs all along the deceptively-named Broken Skull River - a pleasant and serene canoe experience with or without a guide. Canoeing trips and kayaking experiences in the Western Arctic will be unlike anywhere else in the world - very few people get the chance to say they’ve paddled in the waters of the Arctic Ocean! There are boat tours available in almost every community and any novice canoeist or paddler can find opportunities to explore the region with the guidance and knowledge of a guide. If you’re travelling the Dempster Highway, take a quick stop in the communities for a unique Northern paddling experience.
Paddling trip operators in the NWT offer a wide variety of canoe, kayak, and rafting packages to match your comfort, skill level, and sense of adventure. Multi-day canoe trips and multi-day rafting trips are life-changing experiences as you paddle along the lakes and rivers that have been canoeing routes for centuries. For smaller adventures, an afternoon kayaking the calm surface of any of our lakes is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the Midnight Sun as it approaches the horizon, and canoe day trips will show you the side of our communities that is most familiar to the people who have travelled to and from these places by canoe for decades.
In almost every community on the water’s edge, you’re sure to find a canoe outfitter or kayak outfitter to rent or purchase paddling equipment and gear from, and many wilderness and fishing lodges have paddling equipment available to rent if you want to add canoeing to your stay. For the complete novice, learning to canoe or kayak can start here in the NWT. Many paddling operators offer classes to teach paddling strokes for canoes, kayaks or rafting, and you won’t find people with more experience in all levels of paddling than in the NWT. Our waters are the perfect place to discover a life-long passion.
If you’re ready to be inspired by the pristine waters of the NWT, discover more about our paddling operators and their packages for canoeing, kayaking, rafting and paddle boarding. The Northwest Territories has some of the most peaceful and the most spectacular lakes and rivers in the world, ready for you to experience as you paddle across the calm surface of their waters.