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Canada's Northwest Territories offer some of the most dramatic and eye-catching landscapes in North America. These landscapes are incredibly remote with precious little infrastructure. Despite having a land area the better part of twice the size of the state of Texas, it is only home to around 45,000 people.

One of the best ways to explore these far-flung wilds is with an epic canoe tour. Here are some examples of canoe tours; while the 2022 season may have passed, they are ideas for what might be on offer for the 2023 season. Go in the winter, and the rivers are frozen, but the Northwest Territories are ideal for watching the spectacular Northern Lights.


12-Day Guided Canoe Trip On The Thelon River

The Thelon River is one of the most remote and pristine wilderness rivers in North America and the ideal place for a 12-day guided canoe trip. The river has eight rapids along the route of the tour with no portages at all. Thelon River is the largest and most remote river in the northern Barren Lands of Canada, as well as the safest and easiest to canoe.

  • Largest: River In The Barren Lands
  • Safest: One of the Easiest And Safest Rivers To Canoe

All along the route, one will see the tundra of the north to the south of the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary. The adventure feels like a surreal and fairy-tale world with the big treed sandy eskers along the route.

  • Duration: 12 Days
  • Cost: $9,510 CAD ($7,400 USD) + 5% GST
  • Phone: (867) 445-4512

Guests should keep their eyes peeled for a range of wildlife, including Tundra wolf and muskox. There are also a large number of Arctic birds along the river.

While this may be the Tundra of the Arctic, the Thelon River does enjoy some of the best summer weather in North America owing to its dry, sunny climate in this deep interior location. This is just one example of a number of canoeing tours offered by Jackpine Paddle on the Thelon River.

Related: Visiting Canada For The First Time? Here Are Some Things You Should Know

10-Day Whitewater Canoe Adventure On The Natla River

This whitewater canoe adventure on the Natla River is offered in the month of July and covers a distance of some 109 km or 68 miles. Coast for over a week down the meandering Natla River deep in the Northwest Territories and experience a world where whitewater wilderness canoeing is at its best.

  • Distance: 109 km (68 miles) on Natla
  • When: July
  • Cost: $6,130 CAD ($4,750 USD) + 5% GST
  • Duration: 10 Days

The tour is suited for those with skill levels from intermediate to advanced. The tour explores small canyons, glacial creeks, rock gardens, open mountain valleys, and the grand finale of the Stelfox canyon. Wildlife in this region includes caribou, moose, mountain goats, and grizzly bears.

There's also plenty of opportunity for fishing along the way - go angling for dinner for bull trout and arctic grayling.

There is also the opportunity to expand the trip all the way down the Keele River. This makes the trip an epic 25-day expedition - it adds another $2,900 CAD to the price of the trip. The group is limited to 10 participants and two guides.

The trip includes a charter flight from Norman Wells to the Natla River and a boat shuttle back again.

Related: Winter Is Coming: These Are The Coldest Places On Earth (That You Can Still Visit)

3-Day Canoe Trip On The Great Slave Lake

For those with less time to explore the backcountry of the Northwest Territories (or whatever "backcountry" means there), consider a three-day canoe trip.

Jackpine offers a three-day canoe trip on the Great Slave Lake - it is one of the largest and wildest large lakes left in the world. These tours are suitable for novices and tailored to new paddlers (as well as families).

  • Distance: 30-45 km
  • Cost: $950 CAD ($770 USD) +GST
  • Skill Level: Novice
  • Duration: 3 Days
  • When: July & August

There are two options - the Trout Rock Option and the Yellowknife Bay option. Read more on Jackpine's website to see which is the most suitable.

Another way to explore the far north of Canada is to drive the Dempster Highway that runs all the way from Dawson City in Yukon up the Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories.

Plan one's trip to the Northwest Territories with Spectacular Northwest Territories or with Jackpine Paddle.