The Northwest Territories (NWT) is a big sprawling hinterland of water and woods, bisected by the Arctic Circle, flanked to the west by saw-toothed summits and trailing off pole-ward in a scattering of bleak isles. With few people around, this is Canada’s least-known frontier, overlooked in favour of icy, iconic Nunavut and the grand, romantic Yukon. But the NWT’s secrets are worth checking out. It’s rugged, accessible and largely aboriginal – a potent combination found nowhere else in Canada.
With a population density so sparse, that statistically, a place like Manhattan would score just three residents, there’s plenty of room here to get lost, really lost. Canoeing, kayaking, fishing and hiking are all fantastic, and there are some fantastic tours. Hard-core adventurers can go it alone in the backcountry, following epic paddling routes such as the Nahanni and Mackenzie trekking the 372km Canol Heritage Trail. In winter, the weather turns Siberian, the bugs disappear, the northern lights ignite and well-bundled skiers and dogsledders glide through the surreal wilds.
The place is full with wildlife. Bison abound around Great Slave Lake and Wood Buffalo National Park, and there are ample moose, bear and caribou, plus exotic birds such as white pelicans and whooping cranes. Even the towns are a bit untamed. The Euro-Canadian population displays a colourful streak of pioneer iconoclasm, and ancestral traditions are alive and kicking for the indigenous residents. Visiting here is like going back in time: issues that elsewhere were resolved eons ago – such as land ownership – are questions still vital in the North.
The main attraction of Northwest Territories is the outdoors, so here are a few places you must visit:-
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