14 Day Nahanni National Park White Water Canoe Trip Itinerary: Rabbitkettle Lake to Lindberg’s Landing  370 km (230 miles)

Imagine the “land of the midnight sun”, a country of diverse land forms and new delights to the eye every day. Imagine rivers that flow through these lands in a sinuous manner, serving as a conveyer to move you from one delightful experience to the next. You will be accompanied by your knowledgeable guides who share their love for the area and with them you unfold the mysteries and experience the beauty of the north. You will wake up each morning in your well equipped camp, not knowing specifically what will happen but knowing it will be memorable and will inspire stories to tell your friends for years to come.

A Nahanni River Experience is truly the trip of a lifetime. The following is a tentative agenda and has been designed with much thought to capitalize on the most scenic and exciting parts of the river while making time on other sections. Your guides will adjust the schedule to make the best use of river and weather conditions. We adhere to the new departure regulation system of the Park, which works to ensure that all river travelers have the same wilderness experience.

Craft Type

2-Person Canoe White Water Canoe.

Participant Prerequisite

Canoe = Class II Whitewater  (click for more info)
Intermediate paddler who is comfortable on class II whitewater. A willingness to learn and a fitness level suited to paddling from 3 to 7 hours per day. If unsure of your ability please call with any questions: 1-866-383-9453 0r 416-569-5889.

A Word About River Ratings

Physical requirements for river trips are generally modest, but can vary depending on the nature of the rapids (on some rivers, portages are necessary at times). Rivers are ranked according to the difficulty of their most severe rapids, and we’ve indicated the class of rapids for each river trip throughout the site.

  • Class 1:  Easy flat water and mild waves. Some maneuvering may be required to navigate around log jams or sweepers.
  • Class 2:  Standing waves up to 3′.
  • Class 3:  Moderate waves and narrower channels due to obstructions such as rocks or gravel bars. Quick and accurate river reading is required with instinctive maneuvers orchestrated with a paddling partner.
  • Class 4:  Expert whitewater canoeist (4 is considered to be the top extreme of canoe capability). Difficult, with narrow channels obstructed by rocks, steep and narrow drops.
  • Class 5:  Possibility of overturning a raft. We always use caution and judicious safety measures and portage around anything that looks doubtful.  Our river guides are the best in the business and you can feel confident in their hands.

Route Summary

Rabbitkettle Hot Springs to Lindberg’s Landing, approximately 370 km (230 miles) with an elevation drop of 550 m (1,800 ft)

Rendezvous point

South Nahanni Airways, Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories

Expeditions Include

Guides, boats, local air charter & ground transportation as described in the itinerary, high quality: tents, paddles, lifejackets, waterproof pack and all meals while on the river.

Expeditions Do Not Include

Transportation to meeting point listed, personal clothing, sleeping bag and pad, guides gratuities, hotel accommodation and meals when off of the river or the $200 Park fee or GST (5 % Goods and Services Tax).

The following is a tentative agenda and has been designed with much thought to capitalize on the most scenic and exciting parts of the river while making time on other sections. Your guides will adjust the schedule to make the best use of river and weather conditions. We adhere to the new departure regulation system of the Park which works to ensure that all river travelers have the same wilderness experience

Day 1 (D)

This is the first day listed for your trip.

Your journey north from your home will be a refreshing departure. You will fly over the largest expanse of wilderness in the world with stunning views on cloudless days, pass through quieter and friendlier airports, meet friendlier and less harried service personnel and generally begin to immerse yourself in the wilderness experience that is about to unfold.

Your trip leader will meet you at the airport (if you arrive prior, please make your way to your accommodation). Once everyone has arrived there will be a chance for last minute questions concerning clothing, gear, packing and other details. Those requiring our river bags will have time to transfer gear from their own bags. You can leave unrequired items in our trailer.

After loading our supplies and gear into the aircraft we begin one of the major highlights of the adventure – the upriver flight. Flying over the majestic Nahanni.

Range and Ram Plateau, a visually stunning panorama unfolds in front of our eyes. You want to be sure to have your camera on your lap with lots of film! Past participants have stepped off the plane declaring that “if the trip finished now, I would have my money’s worth!”

Please note that under certain conditions (weather, forest fire, plane availability and upriver conditions), it may be necessary to make our upriver flight soon after arrival. On the other hand, we have occasionally found ourselves waiting for safe flying conditions. In any event, we’ll have supper and camp in Ft. Simpson or on the shores of the Nahanni.

If we are required to overnight in Fort Simpson you are welcome to camp using our equipment or take a hotel room (at your own cost).

Day 2 (B/L/D)

At Rabbitkettle Lake we’ll prepare for the downriver trip. Conditions permitting, we’ll hike the 7 kilometres (4 miles) to the tufa mounds.

Day 3 and 4 (B/L/D)

We begin the downriver trip. This portion of the river above Virginia Falls is a flat, meandering section that allows opportunity to learn the necessary canoeing skills from the guides or brush up on techniques. The mountains and U-shaped valley created by the glaciers will dominate the scenery. Camping will be in the choicest spots between Rabbitkettle Lake and Virginia Falls.

Day 5 (B/L/D)

Virginia Falls (twice the height of Niagara) will be the destination. We’ll camp there for two nights. This is the other spot within Nahanni National Park where planes may land and we might see other campers here.

Day 6 (B/L/D)

This is a day for exploring the area around Virginia Falls. The vast expanse of the Falls captivates photographers and hikers with a tireless display of powerful drama. Keen and fit hikers may undertake an all-day expedition to the top of Sunblood Mountain for an excellent view of the surrounding area. Others can enjoy exploring the expansive area overlooking the brink of the falls.

Day 7 (B/L/D)

We’ll make the final portage around the falls. The trail is downhill and well defined. You need carry only what is comfortable for you. Everyone pitches in to carry what they can, and we take as long as we need to complete the task.

It’s impossible to spend too much time at Virginia Falls! We’ll assemble the boats and, after a late shore lunch and briefing, embark in the late afternoon on an exhilarating run through Painted Canyon (also known as Fourth Canyon). Supper conversation in camp will be full of recollections of paddling adventures in the canyon.

Day 8 (B/L/D)

We enter Third Canyon, the walls of which rise 1200 metres (3937 feet) over the river. Keen eyes may spot woodland caribou, moose and Dall sheep. Stopping at the Gate and Pulpit Rock for lunch, we’ll hike to the top of the canyon for a bird’s eye view of the narrow gorge below and the expanse of the canyon walls. Camp will be downstream of Pulpit Rock and the Gate.

Day 9 (B/L/D)

Paddling through the Big Bend and Second Canyon and past Headless Creek we will find ourselves camped in the vicinity of Deadmen Valley.

The view includes the Tlogotsho Plateau and Prairie Creek Canyon. It was here, on the shores of Headless Creek, that the bodies of the Mcleod brothers were found in 1905 and the legend of the Headless Valley was born. Downriver at Sheaf Creek, R. M. Patterson and his partner, Gordon Mathews, wintered over in 1928. Patterson later wrote Dangerous River, one of the most eloquent accounts of the early days on the river.

Around the campfire, we will hear the story.

Day 10 (B/L/D)

Camp will be in Deadmen Valley or First Canyon.

Day 11 (B/L/D)

The highlights include First Canyon, Canada’s deepest river canyon at a depth of 1300 metres (4265 feet), George’s and Lafferty’s Riffles and White Spray Springs. After stopping at Kraus’ Hot Springs for a soak, we leave the canyons and carry on to camp in the area known as The Splits. Here the river braids and twists into many channels.

Day 12 (B/L/D)

While negotiating the huge meanders prior to the native village of Nahanni Butte we will experience the river valley opening up to meet the forested flat lands.

Camp will be in or near the village (population 80). We will be hosted by a member of the community who will show us through the village, sharing the history and culture of the people who have made this remote part of the world their home for thousands of years.

Day 13 (B/L/D)

A powerboat ride down the voluminous Liard River will take us to Lindberg’s Landing where we’ll be the guests of Edwin and Sue Lindberg for showers, a BBQ and an overnight stay at their cabins.

Day 14 (B)

We’ll be picked up by vehicle and driven to Fort Simpson to meet our plane home. There may be time to explore around town.

Additional Nahanni River Trip Notes:

Please note: The above is a tentative agenda and has been designed with much thought to capitalize on the most scenic and exciting parts of the river while making time on other sections. Your guides will adjust the schedule to make the best use of river and weather conditions. We adhere to the new departure regulation system of the Park which works to ensure that all river travelers have the same wilderness experience.

Under certain conditions (weather, forest fire, plane availability and upriver conditions), it may be necessary to make our upriver flight soon after arrival. On the other hand, we have occasionally found ourselves waiting for safe flying conditions. In any event, we will have supper and find ourselves camped in Ft. Simpson or on the shores of the Nahanni. If we are required to overnight in Fort Simpson you are welcome to camp or take a hotel room (at your own cost). Hotel costs and meals while in Fort Simpson are not included in the trip fee.

It is customary on the Nahanni River to sometimes employ the use of “Canyon Rigs” (catamaraning canoes) for some rapids to ensure greater stability. This decision is made “on site” by the guides based on a safety assessment of prevailing conditions.

On rare occasions, we can encounter high winds and waves on the Liard. If this is the case we will have to choose between waiting it out, hiring a native-owned power boat or calling an aircraft. The cost of this additional transport would be split evenly among the guests.

Additional Notes

For an exceptionally concise list of the remarkable features of the South Nahanni River, visit this site of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

The following initials indicate the meals included each day:
Breakfast = B Lunch = L Dinner = D

In the interest of participant safety and well being the guide / instructor may alter the actual trip itinerary at their discretion.

Please Note: Prices and Itineraries are subject to change with notice on the main web page. Once a booking is in place no price increases will be applied.

Booking: The booking requires a 30% deposit by Visa or MasterCard (for Canadian Credit Cards) with the balance due 60 days prior to trip departure. Non Canadian Credit Cards are charged the full trip fee payment in US dollars or a Bank Wire Transfer in Canadian Dollars at the time of booking.

The trip dates do sell out so please book early to get the trip dates you want.

Book this Trip Here 

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