8 Day Nahanni Canyons Canoe or Raft Trip Itinerary: Virginia Falls to Blackstone Landing

For those with limited holiday time, this adventure allows you to experience the Nahanni’s Grand Canyons and many of the features for which the river is renowned.

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

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 Canoe if you are opting to canoe instead of rafting (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.

Route Summary

Virginia Falls to Blackstone Landing, 7 river days:
approximately 240 km (150 miles) with an elevation drop of 396 m (1,300 ft)

Rendezvous point

South Nahanni Airways, Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories

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 or 416-746-7427.

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.

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 the day 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 at our base/warehouse.

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 moneys 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’ve 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)

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 3 (B/L/D)

We drift past the confluence of the Flat River and enter Third Canyon, the walls of which loom 1200 metres (3937 feet) above the river. We camp halfway through this canyon near The Gate.

Day 4 (B/L/D)

Paddling through the Big Bend and Second Canyon and past Headless Creek, we’ll find our selves 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, the bodies of the Mcleod brothers were found in 1905 and the legend of Headless Valley was born.
Downriver at Sheaf Creek, R. M. Patterson and his partner, Gordon Mathews, wintered in 1928. Patterson later wrote Dangerous River, one of the most eloquent accounts of the early days on the river. Around the campfire, we’ll read from his book.

Day 5 (B/L/D)

We start the day by challenging the big waves of George’s Riffle and enter First Canyon, the deepest of all the canyons. Camp will be made at Lafferty’s Riffle.

Day 6 (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 7 (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 8 (B/L)

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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