Planning Your Time
Heading to the Northwest Territories is not to be taken lightly. You will need to plan ahead, especially if you have a specific activity in mind, such as joining a guided rafting trip through Nahanni National Park, which requires booking well in advance and making the relevant transportation bookings.
Those driving north from Alberta should allow at least one week in the Northwest Territories. This is enough time to see the abundant natural wonders of Wood Buffalo National Park before heading to the capital of Yellowknife, where two days is enough time to see the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, wander through Old Town, try your hand at fishing, and go paddling in one of the many surrounding lakes. If it’s late June, golfing under the midnight sun is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but the local links is worth hitting at any time of the summer.
Backtracking from the capital, head west to Fort Simpson for a flightseeing day trip into Nahanni National Park. Exiting the Northwest Territories at Fort Liard will set you up for another week’s worth of adventures in northern British Columbia and the Yukon.
If you’re keen to travel above the Arctic Circle, it is possible to combine a driving tour to Yellowknife with a flight to Inuvik. The town itself is interesting, but it’s the prospect of experiencing a sun that never sets (in late June) or seeing—or swimming in, for the brave—the Arctic Ocean on a side trip to Tuktoyaktuk that brings most visitors this far north. The ideal scenario would be to book a three-night stay, flying up from Yellowknife (or Calgary or Edmonton) to Inuvik, with one full day to explore town and another to visit “Tuk.” Travelers with reliable vehicles can also reach Inuvik by road through the Yukon. Allow at least four days for the round-trip from Dawson City.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition