Nahanni National Park Reserve

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A place of unparalleled natural beauty in the southwestern NWT near the Yukon border, this 30,000-sq-km, Unesco World Heritage national park is bisected by the epic South Nahanni River that twists and foams its way for some 500km through the jagged Mackenzie Mountains. It's accessible via fly-in day trips from Fort Simpson to see the Virginia Falls, and is the dream destination of canoeists; licensed outfitters run canoe and rafting trips from Fort Simpson, starting from $6640 for seven days.

There is also some excellent hiking in the Nahanni River Valley, from the boardwalk leading to the waterfall lookout to the full-day hike to the peak of Sunblood Mountain, across the river from Virginia Falls campground. The Ragged Range around Glacier Lake offers days of hiking and challenging rock-climbing routes, including in the Cirque of the Unclimbables – a range of forbidding granite peaks.

Book the rafting and canoeing trips months in advance. Canoes require some basic experience; white-water canoeing adventures are for experienced and fit travelers only. Rafts, steered by a guide, are relaxing and suitable for all.

Most trips begin at Moose Ponds, Rabbitkettle Lake or Virginia Falls, because floatplanes can land in these spots. From Moose Ponds to Rabbitkettle is about 160km, much of it Class III white water. For the 118km from Rabbitkettle to the falls, the river meanders placidly through broad valleys. Once the falls are portaged, it's another 252km to Blackstone Territorial Park, first through steep-sided, turbulent canyons, and then along the broad Liard River. The lower-river trip requires seven to 10 days. From Rabbitkettle it's around 14 days, while from Moose Ponds it's 21.

There are also two sets of hot springs in the park: Rabbitkettle Hot Springs, surrounded by the largest tufa mounds in the northern world, and the smaller, smellier, sulfur-rich Kraus Hot Springs; canoe and rafting trips tend to include stops at one or both.

Park entry fees are payable at the Parks Canada office in Fort Simpson before departure.