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Canada’s most impressive rivers make for the best rafting adventures
There are many ways to traverse the sprawling rivers and lakes of Canada’s North, but there’s nothing quite like the shared experience of rafting down wild white water in the Northwest Territories. From the renowned Nahanni to the edges of the Arctic Ocean, discover for yourself why the Northwest Territories is arguably home to Canada's best river adventures for all skill levels. In every region, you’ll find operators who know the place for white water enthusiasts and gentle day trip paddlers alike. Before long, you’ll find yourself gliding along a pristine river, immersed in a simply unforgettable landscape.
Rafting tours bring you deep into the heart of the NWT, on any of the interconnected waterways that run from Great Slave Lake, out east into the open Barrenlands, west through the Mackenzie Mountains, or further north to the Arctic ocean itself. Your adventure will start at one of the regional hubs - maybe even Yellowknife itself. Enjoy exploring the city, get your last bits of gear with a rafting equipment outfitter, and depart by bush plane out into the timeless Northern landscapes.
From Norman Wells, head out to explore the Keele River, whose 320-kilometre run of turquoise water takes you through the lofty Mackenzie Mountains and along rugged, jaw-dropping shorelines. Along the way you will see hawks and eagles as well as wildlife like moose, Dall sheep, caribou and even grizzly bears. Tour operators also pull up for fly-fishing and hiking.
On the Slave River near Fort Smith, raft tours lead you to relaxing pools and through frothing white water. If you're in Fort Smith in early August, the annual Slave River Paddlefest, hosted by the Fort Smith Paddling Club, also includes raft rides in addition to a host of other activities on the river.
There's nothing better than a scenic rafting tour in Nahanni Park Reserve if you want to experience the iconic rivers of the NWT, but seek more support than a canoe or a kayak. You can sit back on your sturdy raft as you float past towering waterfalls and eerie limestone tufa formations and judge for yourself why the Nahanni is special.
With awesome 150-metre-tall canyon walls and thundering falls, the South Nahanni isn’t a river you want to do on your own as a beginner. But your experienced river guides help you tackle it with ease. Rafting takes place below the falls, where the river continues for about 240 km through dramatic terrain and rapids where you'll maneuver through some white water.
On a rafting tour on the Coppermine River, that empties into the Arctic Ocean, you cross the Arctic Circle and visit an old portage site to Great Bear Lake.
The NWT's other noteworthy rafting rivers also include the Horton, the Natla, the Thomson and the Thelon, where you can experience the swifts, currents and wonders of a northern wilderness river trip from your secure raft.
A rafting adventure through the NWT can be an exhilarating white water experience or a scenic journey through a timeless landscape. No matter your skill level, you’ll find opportunities for an unforgettable rafting experience. What better way to experience the beauty of Canada’s North.