Skip to main content
True North Living » Travel » Exploring Western Canada » Why the Northwest Territories Is a Real Northern Adventure
Exploring Western Canada

Why the Northwest Territories Is a Real Northern Adventure

Sponsored by:
Photo by: Valerie Pond
Sponsored by:
Photo by: Valerie Pond

Many Canadians talk about the north, perhaps the northern region of their province, but they haven’t experienced the real north — the jaw-dropping, stunningly beautiful, bucket list kind of north that can be found throughout the Northwest Territories. And it’s more accessible than you think. 

The Northwest Territories has always been a place that has called to adventurers — the Dene and Inuvialuit Indigenous peoples who have lived on the land for thousands of years, fur traders, bush pilots, miners, and present-day adventure seekers. And now, it’s the time for your own northern adventure. 

If you’re in the Northwest Territories and you hear someone say “Lights out,” it doesn’t mean it’s time for bed, but rather time to grab your camera and get excited, because the northern lights are dancing in the sky. And the Northwest Territories is the best place to witness this magical spectacle. You’ll get more than a brief glimpse, because the northern lights put on their show across the territories on average 240 nights a year. It’s a different experience here, because the lights are the strongest in the world, the colours are brighter, and the displays last longer.  

Breathtaking scenery around every corner

The Northwest Territories is home to six national parks, each offering unique, one-of-a-kind experiences. Whether it’s spotting bison in Wood Buffalo, Canada’s largest national park, or marvelling at the peaks in Nááts’įhch’oh, which is named after the Nááts’įhch’oh Mountain, or paddling the famed South Nahanni River, it’s a place of wide-open and untouched spaces that haven’t been tamed by the commercialization of other destinations. 

A road trip in the Northwest Territories is like no other. How many of your friends have driven to the Arctic Ocean? Five years ago, the 140-kilometre Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk  Highway opened, making it the first road to reach the polar shore in North America. Now, you can drive this unforgettable route from Inuvik to the vibrant Inuvialuit community of Tuktoyaktuk. Imagine the stories you’ll be able to share.  

Getting there is easy

Going north is easy with several airlines offering non-stop flights to Yellowknife (the territorial capital) from many southern destinations. From Yellowknife, many more airlines offer scheduled or charter flights within the Northwest Territories to communities, wilderness rivers, national parks, and remote fishing lodges. And with three southern highways leading into the territories, driving your own car or RV is easy. Despite the wild landscape that seems to go on forever, there are also lots of campgrounds, picnic sites, and service stations to make your journey easier. 

What you get in the Northwest Territories is how nature intended. Beautiful. Spectacular. Dazzling. It’s the making of stories. What are you waiting for?  

Start making your northern stories.

5 Best Things About Summer Up North

summer aurora

Watching Summer Aurora

The Summer Aurora season begins in mid-August when the sun finally begins to set and darkness returns to the skies of the NWT. There’s no better way to cap off the sheer variety of awe-inspiring and magical experiences you can have in the summer than witnessing the skies come to life with the dance of Northern lights in the cooling nights of late summer.

Here, you can sit lakeside after a long day of paddling, enjoy the soft sound of a crackling fire, and look up into the sky to see the Aurora’s mesmerizing dance displayed above and reflected in the clear surface of the waters below. There’s only one way to describe it – Spectacular, and it’s what we love about summers in the NWT.

Bears spotted in forest in warmer weather

Welcoming Summer Wildlife

People aren’t the only ones excited to get out and enjoy the warmer weather in the summer – you don’t need to have a keen eye to easily spot all sorts of spectacular wildlife. There are opportunities for wildlife viewing almost everywhere – from the epic Northern highways you can see wood bison, moose, fox, black bear, beaver and muskrat, or the more elusive caribou, grizzly, muskox, whale from bush planes or boats.

Family sitting in trunk of car

Amazing Road Trips

See how far the road really goes when you take the Dempster Highway up to the top of the world where it ends at the coast of the Arctic Ocean. Or maybe you want to make the trip up from the southern border, stopping at any number of vibrant communities on your way to the capital city of Yellowknife. Getting out on the road takes you through the vast land of the territory and there’s so much to see, from roaring waterfalls to scenic and serene campsites. You can map out your next adventure with one of these popular routes.

Men fishing in boat

Paddling At Any Time

Summer in the NWT is a paddler’s dream – the waterways of the North form an extensive water highway system and people have used them for recreation and travel for time immemorial. Novice paddlers can wet their feet paddling around any number of the calm Northern lakes, and more experienced and adventurous paddlers are sure to recognize the names of our greatest river routes:  Nahanni, Broken Skull, Mountain, Thomsen, Mackenzie, Yellowknife, Coppermine, Thelon, or Hornaday


Gathering Around Bonfires

Getting out on the land with friends and family, gathered around a bonfire at your favourite camping spot – there’s simply nothing like it. One of the best things about summer in the NWT is how easy it is to get out like this and experience the quiet majesty of the landscape well into the evening. Time flies when you’re having fun, and Northerners know this better than most when the line between sunset and sunrise blends together.

Next article