When spring and then summer roll around to the Northwest Territories, there is a giddiness in the air. The stunning arctic flowers begin to pop, the majestic herds begin to gather and rumble, the birds fly in from around the globe and the warming sun bathes everything in an all day and soon all night glow. The Northwest Territories becomes a giant adventure zone, where every day travellers discover their own version of spectacular.
The options for fun are nearly endless. Check into a wilderness lodge and fish for world class trophy catches on one of the NWT’s super-sized lakes into the wee hours of the morning. Or drive across the Arctic Circle to the amazing Mackenzie Delta, along the legendary Dempster Highway and spot the massive moose and bears that sometimes roam along the edge of the road. Hike in a national park at the top of the globe, where the majestic caribou roam. Canoe or kayak on a wild northern river, that few other Canadians have ever seen. Hop a bush plane and go flightseeing over the scenic Nahanni, the Mackenzie Delta, or Great Slave Lake’s East Arm. Or relax aboard a jet boat and zip along a northern body of water to a secluded mountain getaway.
A favourite trip that is easily accessible by car or RV is the Dehcho Travel Connection – known as the Driveable Wilderness. The Connection links the Mackenzie, Liard and Alaska highways, forming a loop through Northern Alberta, the Northwest Territories and British Columbia. In NWT, the Connection takes drivers through a dramatic landscape carved by rivers and sprinkled by awe inspiring waterfalls. Stretch your legs in one of the territorial parks or campgrounds and hike through the Dehcho on one of the incredibly scenic trails that curl just off the highway route. Try the Twin Falls Gorge Trail, which winds along the banks of Hay River and features a wooden staircase that spirals 138 steps down to the base of Louise Falls which cascades over a sheer ledge. Then it’s on to Alexandra Falls which rush 36 metres over the rocks into the gorge. The whole trail is less than 3 kilometres.
Discover the Northwest Territories’ driveable wilderness
along the Dehcho Travel Connection. Gerold Sigl
Another notable stop is the Sambaa Deh Falls. The track starts just off the Mackenzie Highway, near the top of a waterfall and then leads to an old trail through the forest. Use the rope provided and lower yourself through a crevice to the rocky bank of a river that’s home to an abundance of trout.
Of course there is plenty of man-made fun to be had in the Northwest Territories, especially when the locals start celebrating the arrival of spring and summer. (The average summertime temperature is about 20 C with little rain.) Almost every weekend is dotted with a festival or a jamboree. The scope of fun is dizzying. For instance, at the Beluga Jamboree visitors can take part in snowmobile racing, log sawing, igloo building and drum dancing, all under the welcome caress of the midnight sun. There are fishing derbies and golf tournaments where you can cast or tee it up around the clock. There are polar plunges, beer barges, miners picnics and film, writing and storytelling festivals. And in the exuberant capital of Yellowknife, you can take part in everything from the Midnight Sun Triathlon to the Midnight Sun Motorcycle Poker Run. Spectacular yes – but so much more.
For more information on planning a trip to the Northwest Territories, go to: www.spectacularnwt.com.