12 Day Nahanni Canyons Canoe or Raft Trip Itinerary: Virginia Falls to Blackstone Landing 240 km (150 miles)

Imagine the “land of the midnight sun”, a country of diverse landforms 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

Raft on all trips,
2-Person White Water Canoe: Please note that there is a $250.00 flight surcharge per person for a 2-Person White Water Canoe (we bring one inflatable canoe per group at no extra charge).

Explanation of craft

2 Person Canoe – the traditional 16′ and 17′ canoe. Previous canoe experience is an asset. Physical fitness and comfort on moving water are important.
Raft – the safe and stable expedition raft is ideal for those who desire their hands free to photograph or to travel in a more relaxed fashion. The guide manoeuvres with oars and paddling is completely optional. Those who wish to be active will find ample opportunity to paddle.

Participant Prerequisite

Raft – Beginners, (click for more info)
Canoe = Class III Whitewater (click for more info)
Intermediate paddler who is comfortable on class III 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

Virginia Falls to Blackstone Landing, approximately 240 km (150 miles) with an elevation drop of 396 m (1.3000 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 will be a refreshing departure from everyday life. You’ll fly over the largest expanse of wilderness in the world, pass through quieter airports, meet friendlier 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.) After loading our supplies and gear into the aircraft we begin one of the major highlights of the adventure ­– the upriver flight into Nahanni National Park. Flying over the majestic Nahanni Range and Ram Plateau, a stunning panorama unfolds in front of our eyes. Be sure to have your camera ready! Past participants have stepped off the plane, declaring that, “if the trip finished now, I would have my money’s worth!”

Following supper in camp at Virginia Falls, your guides will provide further briefing with the techniques for living comfortably along the river. A last look at the stunning scenery before bed will remind you that you are in one of the most scenic places on the planet!

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’re required to overnight in Fort Simpson you’re welcome to camp or take a hotel room (at your own cost).

Day 2 (B/L/D)

This is a day for exploring the area around Virginia Falls, nearly twice the height of Niagara. 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 3 (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. The final challenge for the day will be Figure 8 Rapids (Hell’s Gate). Camp is finally made for the evening below Wrigley Creek.

Day 4 (B/L/D)

We drift past the confluence of the Flat River and then enter Third Canyon, the walls of which loom 1200 metres (3937 feet) above our heads. This 20 kilometre canyon is created by the river slicing through the mixed strata of shale, sandstone and limestone of the Funeral Range. We camp halfway through this canyon near The Gate, a 100 metre-wide (328 feet) gorge where the walls tower 460 metres (1509 feet) above us.

Day 5 (B/L/D)

In the morning we do a short hike to the top of The Gate and are awarded a magnificent view of Third Canyon and Pulpit Rock. After lunch it’s back in the canoes and on through Third Canyon to camp at Big Bend.

Day 6 (B/L/D)

On through Second Canyon and into Deadmen Valley, where we will stop for a spectacular two-hour walk up a dry creek bed for an overview of this immense region. After drifting by Headless Creek, we continue on to Sheaf Creek. Here R. M. Patterson and his partner Gordon Mathews wintered in 1928. We’ll camp for the night at Dead Man Valley.

Day 7 (B/L/D)

This may be selected by the trip guide as a layover day. If so, you can spend a relaxing day around camp or exploring the massive alluvial fan of Prairie Creek. For birders, it’s the nesting grounds for Upland Sandpipers, common nighthawks, White-winged Crossbills, Chipping and Savanna sparrows. Fishermen will find both bull trout and Arctic grayling inhabiting the pools and eddies of the creek.

Day 8 (B/L/D)

We start the day with a short hike up Dry Canyon, followed by the big waves of George’s Riffle. These rapids are at the western entrance to First Canyon. We’ll camp near its end at Lafferty Creek.

Day 9 (B/L/D)

We spend the day hiking up Lafferty Creek Canyon to view some of the hundreds of caves in the area.

Day 10 (B/L/D)

After the waves of Lafferty’s Riffle, we take a quick dip in Kraus’ Hot Springs before bidding farewell to the canyons and entering the braided channels of The Splits. Here a broad valley is revealed and the surrounding mountains, ridge piled upon ridge, form a dramatic contrast to the enclosure of the canyons. Lush boreal forest bordered by steep ridges form a storybook setting.

Day 11 (B/L/D)

Stopping in the village, we’ll have an opportunity to see this traditional community. Here we board a charter plane for our flight down the Liard valley back to Fort Simpson. You’ll need to book accommodation for this final night in Fort Simpson. The group can meet for dinner at the Sub-Arctic Cafe for a final farewell meal and good-bye to your guides (accommodation and meal not included).

Day 12 (B)

After a relaxing morning and time to look around the Village of Fort Simpson, you will board your homeward plane with a load of fond memories and a relaxed and renewed spirit!

Note: Upon booking, we need to know which craft you would prefer (Raft, 2-Person Canoe). Please note that there is a $200.00 per person flight surcharge for the 2-Person classic canoes (We bring one inflatable canoe per group to share at no extra charge). Final booking numbers will indicate how thoroughly we will be able to match preferences for craft – please let us know your preference on the application form and call with any questions: 1-866-383-9453.

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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