Summers in the NWT are intense. Long, seemingly endless days blend into dusk and dawn. In June and July in Inuvik and communities north of the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets. The light is exhilarating. The sun at midnight rivals the sun at midday.
Everywhere in the Northwest Territories this is the time for outdoor activities. Hiking, golfing, sailing and canoeing are popular and for some, fishing, fishing and more fishing! Our parks open toward the end of May and northerners seem to burst out of their homes to take up residence in a park or at traditional camps outside our communities.
The Northwest Territories is a mountain biker's paradise, with thousands of kilometres of trails and haul roads throughout the region. (It’s also bear country, so always take precautions to avoid confrontations and know how to react if one occurs.) It’s also a fine place to be an urban biker, with hardy, enthusiastic fellow riders present on the streets of all NWT communities – including the Dettah Ice Road -- even in the midst of a chilly January.
An NWT-based cyclist – Denise Ramsden – was a proud member of the Canadian Olympic Team in the 2012 Olympics in London.
The NWT is a vast network of rivers and lakes. That network was once the only transportation route for residents and traders. As a result, many NWT communities are located on an accessible river or lake. The larger communities offer boat launches and docks. Just about every community has a communal beach for boaters. Great Slave Lake, the ninth largest lake in the world, and one of the deepest, offers experienced boaters a mini ocean to explore, with all the hazards of similar seas, like massive waves and sudden changes of weather. Many Great Slave Lake community residents cruise to the East Arm of the lake for fishing and sightseeing. Hay River, on the southern shore of Great Slave, is the largest marine centre in the NWT. Both the Mackenzie River and the Slave River are navigable, and every community offers water adventures through the summer.
Visitors pay big money to fish in the pristine waters of the NWT, where the waters appear to teem with trophy-size specimens. Popular species include the famous – and delicious – Arctic Char of the Arctic coast, the Bull Trout of the Liard and Mackenzie watershed, fierce Northern Pike, massive Lake Trout and many more. If you live here, all you need is a fishing license, and the countless rivers, lakes and coastal waters of the NWT are your playground. To ensure the fishing remains excellent, there are restrictions on the size and numbers of fish caught. Almost anywhere you choose to live in the NWT, fishing opportunities are just a few minutes from your front door. For sport fishing – whether it be trolling a lake or fly-fishing a stream – you can’t beat living in the NWT.
Visit here for more information about NWT fish species.
Canoeing is one of the quintessential activities in the NWT. The territory’s many connecting lakes and rivers provide a good selection of paddle routes and sightseeing opportunities for both self-guided and guided canoe adventures. Plus there are whitewater routes for almost any skill level. You are rarely more than 15 minutes away from a canoe-or-kayak-friendly route, with unspoiled campsites to choose from. Popular rivers include Canada's longest river – the Mackenzie. Some other notable canoe/kayak routes include the South Nahanni River and the Yellowknife River. The Slave River is famed for its exciting whitewater kayaking. Choose a canoe route linking lakes in the southern region, or an adrenalin shot mountain or Arctic river to the north.
It’s almost un-Northwest Territorian to not camp. And no wonder. The NWT is home to an extensive system of parks, both Territorial and National. They include stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site-listed national park reserves such as Nahanni and Wood Buffalo, as well as territorial wayside parks and campsites where daytrippers can stop off for a barbeque while enjoying an uncluttered view of nature at its most serene. For information on parks in the Northwest Territories, see Parks and Campgrounds.
In the more remote, unspoiled regions of the Northwest Territories, free-roaming game outnumbers the human population. In the Mackenzie Mountains, Dall’s sheep and mountain goats stand sentinel on rocky crags. Polar bears rule the Western Arctic coast and islands. In the Barrenlands, wolves and grizzly follow the migrations of the caribou. Plenty of visitors come here for once-in-a-lifetime hunting experiences with such animals in mind, while for many residents, especially in the smaller communities, hunting is as much a way of life as a trip to the grocery store. To find out about your rights and restrictions as a hunter in the NWT, check out the territory’s hunting regulations.
For more information about hunting in the NWT, visit SpectacularNWT.