Discover Nahanni National Park Reserve

Situated in the rugged wilderness of Canada’s Northwest Territories, Nahanni National Park Reserve stands as a testament to the raw, untamed beauty of the Canadian landscape. Spanning over 30,000 square kilometers, this pristine wilderness is a haven for adventurers, nature enthusiasts, and seekers of the unknown.

Named after the powerful Nahanni River, which carves its way through towering canyons and lush forests, this park is renowned for its stunning geological formations, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural history. Towering peaks, thundering waterfalls, and intricate cave systems create a landscape that is both awe-inspiring and enigmatic.

Whether you’re embarking on a wilderness trek, paddling the pristine waters of the Nahanni River, or simply marveling at the park’s natural wonders, Nahanni National Park Reserve offers an unforgettable adventure into the heart of Canada’s wilderness.


Top 3 Facts About Nahanni National Park Reserve


Unparalleled Canyons

Nahanni National Park Reserve boasts some of the deepest canyons in North America, with depths plunging more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) into the earth’s crust.


Virginia Falls

Towering twice the height of Niagara Falls, Virginia Falls within Nahanni National Park Reserve cascades down an impressive 96 meters (315 feet), making it one of Canada’s tallest waterfalls.


World Heritage Site

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978, Nahanni National Park Reserve is celebrated for its outstanding natural beauty, unique geological formations, and exceptional biodiversity, attracting conservationists and nature lovers alike.

Camping and transportation in Nahanni National Park Reserve

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Nahanni National Park Reserve

Getting to Nahanni National Park Reserve can be an adventure in itself due to its remote location. Here’s a guide on how to reach this pristine wilderness:

  • Fly to Yellowknife: Start your journey by flying to Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Yellowknife is well-connected by air to major Canadian cities like Vancouver, Edmonton, and Ottawa.
  • Chartered Flights to Nahanni: From Yellowknife, you’ll need to book a chartered flight to one of the park’s access points, such as Fort Simpson or Nahanni Butte. Several air charter companies offer flights to these remote locations, but it’s essential to book in advance as availability can be limited.
  • River Access: Another option for reaching Nahanni National Park Reserve is by paddling the Nahanni River. However, this requires extensive planning, wilderness experience, and appropriate gear. Many adventurers choose this route for a truly immersive wilderness experience.
  • Guided Tours: For those seeking a hassle-free experience, guided tours are available from Yellowknife or Fort Simpson. These tours typically include transportation, accommodations, meals, and guided activities, providing a comprehensive way to explore the park.

Places to Stay Near Nahanni National Park Reserve

While Nahanni National Park Reserve itself doesn’t offer designated campgrounds, there are several options for camping near the park where you can base yourself before or after your Nahanni adventure. Here are a few:

  • Fort Simpson Campgrounds: Fort Simpson, located near the park’s southern boundary, offers a couple of campgrounds such as the Fort Simpson Territorial Campground. These campgrounds provide basic amenities like picnic tables, fire pits, and sometimes showers.
  • Blackstone Territorial Park: Situated about 75 kilometers (47 miles) south of the Nahanni National Park Reserve, Blackstone Territorial Park offers beautiful camping spots along the scenic Liard River. It’s a popular stopover for travelers heading to or from Nahanni.
  • Nahanni Butte: This small community located near the park’s eastern boundary offers camping opportunities. While facilities may be limited, camping near Nahanni Butte provides a rustic experience close to the wilderness.
  • Virginia Falls Campground: Accessible by boat or floatplane, the Virginia Falls Campground is located within Nahanni National Park Reserve itself. While primitive, camping here offers the chance to experience the park’s beauty up close.
  • Backcountry Camping: For the adventurous, backcountry camping is an option within Nahanni National Park Reserve. Permits are required, and campers must follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize their impact on the environment.
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Best Time to Go to Nahanni National Park Reserve



Summer is the peak season for visiting Nahanni National Park Reserve. The days are long, the weather is mild, and the wilderness is teeming with life. This is the ideal time for hiking enthusiasts to tackle the park’s rugged trails, offering breathtaking views of canyons, waterfalls, and pristine wilderness. Canoeing, kayaking, and rafting along the Nahanni River are popular activities during the summer months, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the park’s stunning landscapes and diverse ecosystems. Additionally, fishing enthusiasts can try their luck catching Arctic grayling and other native fish species in the park’s pristine waters.



Winter transforms Nahanni National Park Reserve into a pristine winter wonderland, blanketed in snow and ice. While the park is largely inaccessible during this time, winter adventurers can still experience its beauty through activities such as backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling in the surrounding areas. Aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, also make regular appearances during the winter months, painting the night sky with mesmerizing displays of color and light. However, visiting Nahanni National Park Reserve in winter requires careful planning, as temperatures can be extreme, and travel conditions can be challenging.



Spring brings the awakening of nature to Nahanni National Park Reserve. During this time, the landscape transitions from the winter freeze to a burst of new life. The melting snow feeds the rivers and waterfalls, creating impressive displays of cascading water. Spring is an excellent time for adventurous paddlers to explore the Nahanni River as water levels rise, offering thrilling whitewater experiences. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound as animals emerge from hibernation, and migratory birds return to nest.

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Must-See Attractions

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Virginia Falls

One of the most iconic features of Nahanni National Park Reserve, Virginia Falls is a spectacular waterfall that plunges over twice the height of Niagara Falls. The thundering cascade is a sight to behold, offering awe-inspiring views and the opportunity to witness the sheer power of nature.

Nahanni River

The Nahanni River is a legendary waterway that cuts through the heart of the park, offering unparalleled opportunities for paddling, rafting, and kayaking. The river meanders through towering canyons, lush forests, and scenic valleys, providing adventurers with an unforgettable journey through some of Canada’s most pristine wilderness.

Rabbitkettle Hot Springs

Nestled within the park’s rugged terrain, Rabbitkettle Hot Springs is a natural wonder that offers a unique opportunity for relaxation and rejuvenation. Visitors can soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters while surrounded by the park’s pristine wilderness.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Nahanni National Park Reserve

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Research the park thoroughly before your visit and familiarize yourself with its regulations, facilities, and available activities. Consider factors such as weather, wildlife, and trail conditions when planning your itinerary.

Pack Appropriately

Pack Appropriately

Weather conditions in Nahanni National Park Reserve can be unpredictable, with temperatures varying widely throughout the day and night. Dress in layers and bring waterproof clothing to prepare for rain, wind, and fluctuating temperatures.

Respect Wildlife

Respect Wildlife

Nahanni National Park Reserve is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including bears, wolves, and caribou. Practice wildlife safety by storing food properly, making noise while hiking to alert animals of your presence, and keeping a safe distance from wildlife.

Stay Informed

Be Prepared for Remote Travel

Nahanni National Park Reserve is extremely remote, with limited access to amenities and services. Be self-sufficient and prepared for emergencies by carrying essential gear, food, water, and navigation equipment.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Nahanni National Park Reserve

Nahanni National Park Reserve is a haven for adventurers, offering activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and rafting. The Nahanni River, with its awe-inspiring Virginia Falls, provides exhilarating whitewater experiences for both novice and skilled paddlers.

The Nahanni Valley is steeped in lore, including tales of the “Valley of Headless Men,” which has intrigued explorers and storytellers for generations. These stories add a layer of mystique to the already captivating landscape.

When touring Nahanni, practice ‘Leave No Trace’ principles to preserve its pristine condition. Planning your trip with a responsible tour provider ensures that you minimize your environmental impact while enjoying the park’s majesty.

You’ll find a rich array of wildlife in Nahanni, including grizzly bears, caribou, and Dall’s sheep. The region’s unique feature, the dramatic canyons, are punctuated by the spectacular Virginia Falls, nearly twice the height of Niagara Falls.

Safety is paramount, so equip yourself with the necessary gear, stay informed about weather conditions, and ensure that all essential travel documents, such as your passport, are up-to-date. Consider travel insurance and familiarize yourself with the meeting points for tours.

‘Headless Valley’ owes its name to unsolved mysteries involving prospectors who met grisly fates in the early 20th century. Their legends contribute to the valley’s enigmatic reputation and add an element of intrigue to your Nahanni adventure.

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