Be Amazed!Imagine hiking with the caribou; canoeing a wild northern river few have ever seen; or hopping a bush plane and flightseeing over the Nahanni, the Mackenzie Delta, or Great Slave Lake’s east arm. Drive uncrowded roads and marvel at the rugged landscape, scenic waterfalls and lakes so untouched by civilization that it is easy to imagine that you are the first person ever to see them. Spot wood bison, moose and bears right from the road. The Northwest Territories offers a spectacular array of activities in magnificent wilderness surroundings.
Northwest Territories - simply spectacular.
Outdoor Safety in the Northwest Territories:
- The NWT is home to more than 1,171,000 square kilometres of wilderness, including four national parks, two of North America’s largest lakes and its longest river, and some of the best river paddling in the world. The territory offers a vast number of opportunities for outdoor adventure – from low-risk excursions close to Yellowknife to expeditions deep into virgin wilderness.
- Be realistic about your wilderness experience, capabilities and gear before venturing out, and take advantage of the dozens of outfitters inn the NWT who are there to ensure your experience is both thrilling and safe. Some trails, such as the Canol Heritage Trail or the Nahanni National Park Reserve, are strictly for experts and require extensive preparation and logistical support from guides.
- The NWT is a land of climatic extremes. The average daytime high in the summer is around 19 degrees Celcius, when the sun can shine for up to 23 hours a day. In contrast, the average high in winter is -20 degrees Celcius, with average daylight of 7.9 hours. Weather is unpredictable and can change quickly – snow is possible in July, and winter storms can usher in bitter cold. Make sure that you check weather forecasts frequently before setting out, and dress in layers.
- Paddlers from around the world flock to rivers in the NWT, especially four of Canada’s greatest heritage rivers – the South Nahanni, Arctic Red, Coppermine and Thelon. Fully outfitted rafting expeditions are designed to make challenging rivers accessible to river adventurers without extensive whitewater skills. Keep in mind that if you go on your own and get lost or stranded, it may take searchers days to find you. When venturing out to the best river paddling in the country, ensure you prepare for the worst. And remember, no one plans to get lost.
- The NWT hosts one of the world’s most pristine wildernesses. Respect wildlife in their habitat, and be aware that bears, in particular, can pose a threat. Remember these simple rules:
- Be alert at all times.
- Respect all bears - they can be dangerous.
- Never approach a bear for any reason. Photographs should be taken from a safe distance with a telephoto lens.
- Never feed bears or other wildlife.
- Garbage attracts bears. Use bear-proof garbage containers or seal food waste to be transported safely out.
- Have a plan of action for dealing with bears and be sure everyone understands it.
- When traveling with small children, make sure you know where they are at all times.
- The NWT can experience extreme cold in the winter, with temperatures occasionally (but rarely) dipping as low as -50 degrees Celcius. Dressing for the cold is a science: be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton. Stay dry—wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm. Do not ignore shivering! It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat.
- When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or an abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to react properly.
Remember, before you head out, check the weather forecast. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Better yet, complete a Safe Travel Plan -- it could save your life!