Between its jaw-dropping scenery and unforgettable animals, Northern Canada has no shortage of wonders. As long as you dress warmly, and know where to go, you’re in for a magical experience. That said, the latter is a sticking point for some. How does one choose between snow-capped mountains and gold rush-era relics? Simple: take our advice. And we say, if you’re northbound, these six sites belong on your itinerary.
Signpost Forest: Watson Lake, YT
In 1942, a soldier stationed in Watson Lake put a sign from his hometown on display. Since then, a collection of signs over 77,000 strong has blossomed. That number continues to climb as visitors carry on the tradition, either bringing signs from home or having them made at the Visitor Information Center. Therein lies the charm of the Signpost Forest; once you’ve finished taking in the scenery, you, too, can be a part of history.
Auyuittuq National Park: Baffin Island, NU
Auyuittuq is Inuktitut for “the land that never melts.” True to its name, Auyuittuq National Park is sheathed in snow year-round. Baffin Island houses all the hallmarks of the arctic wilderness: fjords, ice fields, and mammoth glaciers. Flora is scarce, and wildlife even scarcer, so don’t go hoping to see Arctic species frolicking about. Instead, let yourself be awestruck by the towering mountains named after Norse mythology: Mount Thor, Mount Odin, and Mount Asgard.
Great Slave Lake: NWT
Great Slave Lake is variously known as Tıdeè, Tinde’e, and Tucho in the languages of local First Nations. With a depth of over two thousand feet, it is the deepest lake in North America, as well as the tenth largest in the world. For four months of the year, the lake waters can be crossed via floatplane, kayak, or fishing boat. The other eight, it’s surface is frozen over, allowing snowmobiles to tread its breadth while the Northern Lights dance overhead.
Yukon Wildlife Preserve: YT
If you’re enamored with Northern wildlife, this is the place for you. The Yukon Wildlife Preserve takes in a plethora of Arctic and boreal species, housing them in conditions akin to their native habitats. When they’ve been nursed back to health, they are promptly released back into the wild. Until then, you can observe them over the course of walkabout or bus tours. From mighty moose to adorable arctic foxes, the Yukon Wildlife Preserve has got it all.
Haughton Impact Crater: Devon Island, NU
Sometime during the late Eocene period—approximately forty million years ago—an unknown object struck Devon Island. The result was Haughton crater, measuring roughly fourteen miles in diameter. Geology enthusiasts will be fascinated by the Paleozoic shale the impact exposed. Casual visitors, meanwhile, can admire the awe-inspiring landscape, and imagine they’ve set foot on another world. Fun fact: Haughton crater is the closest analogue to the conditions of Mars you can find on Earth.
Nahanni National Park Reserve: Dehcho Region, NWT
If we listed all the reasons to visit Nahanni National Park Reserve, we’d be here all day. Its sweeping vistas of natural beauty are populated by all manner of animal life, from caribou to black bears. The whitewater Nahanni River cuts through four breathtaking canyons, and rushes off the cliff at Virginia Falls, which stands twice as tall as Niagara. Embark on a guided tour, or take a hike in your own time. Either way, your time in Nahanni won’t soon be forgotten.