Nahanni National Park
The most popular canoe trip in Canada is probably the Nahanni, even though many who would do the paddle never get
to do it. To reach the Nahanni, you must fly in on a bush plane. The park has 1200 visitors a year.
The Nahanni is in the Northwest Territories. The waterfall is twice the height of Niagara Falls. The water flow is sufficient
to fill an Olympic size swimming pool every eight seconds.
A power company wanted to develop the river in the 1950s. Prime Minister Trudeau came and visited the Nahanni and
declared it would never be developed. In the seventies it was declared a National Park and received a World Heritage
The Nahanni is a tough river to paddle. It must be portaged at the falls, and there are challenging rapids below the falls.
Hence, we assumed we would die without ever seeing this spectacular river. Then, as I was browsing places to stay on
the way back, I discovered a lodge in Northeast BC that offered bush plane flights to the Nahanni. The agreement was
that we make a large deposit and stay three days. If the flight did not go, we got our money back.
Things did not look good when we got to the lodge at Muncho Lake. It had been raining for many days and no flights
had gone anywhere the prior three days. But luck was with us, and a one day window opened for us to fly out on a small
Cessna. There were four of us, the pilot, a worker with a day off at the lodge, and Jackie and me.
Below, we fly out over Muncho Lake. The lodge is in the foreground. The Alaska Highway runs up along the Canadian
Rockies. The lake gets its color from glacial melt.
It was a somewhat bumpy 180 mile to the Nahanni. We flew from British Columbia, then through a corner of the Yukon,
and finally into the Northwest Territories.
Below, we get our first glimpse of the
falls from above. Notice the wharf in the
bottom of the picture. It is 1/4 a mile
above the rapids. We landed there. An
engine failure, and we would be over the
Next we flew right over the falls.
We were met at the dock by two rangers. We were the
only people at the falls besides the rangers. One of the
rangers gave us a personal tour down to the top of the
Below, looking across the river above the falls.
Looking at the falls from the top.
From the top of the falls
we had a great view of
the canyon below the
falls. We were grateful
that we did not have to
portage supplies and
canoes around the falls.
Looking back up river where our plane was 1/4 a mile from the rapids flowing into Virginia Falls.
Left, our ranger guide and our pilot,
What a terrific trip Don gave us,
navigating expertly around a thunder
storm with lighting flashes to the
ground and finding the least bumpy
path out and back.
It was a bumpy ride again, and we
were glad when our feet were on the
ground again at Muncho Lake.
To arrange a trip, call the Lodge at
Muncho, 800-663-5269 or
250-776-3481. The lodge has both a
Cessna and a Beaver plane and good