Pingualuit Crater (pictured)

Parc national des Pingualuit, QC

About 1.4 million years ago, a meteorite burned through the atmosphere above Arctic Quebec and smashed into the tundra, leaving a circular hole that looks today like it could have been poked by a punch. Filled with cobalt blue glacier water and surrounded by treeless barrengrounds, Pingualuit Crater is the namesake centrepiece of Nunavik’s Parc national des Pingualuit. To discover this wonder, join a nine-day guided trek into the park and learn about the land from Inuit guides, discover Nunamiut tent rings and perhaps even view elusive wildlife like caribou or muskox along the way. In Inuktitut, this region is dubbed nunavingmi pikkuminartuq, which means: “a remarkable location where a person may come to be revitalized.” And thanks to the full-service camp from which this trip is based, revitalization doesn’t come at the cost of creature comforts.

Dates: July to September

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Akshayuk Pass

Auyuittuq National Park, NU

Though Auyuittuq is Inuktitut for “the land that never melts,” during the short summer season there is plenty of snow-free hiking and camping to be found within Auyuittuq National Park’s 19,000-sq-km of high Arctic terrain. And, unlike some of the North’s other parks, Auyuittuq doesn’t require a charter flight: just catch a scheduled First Air or Canadian North flight to Pangnirtung then arrange a boat ride up Pangnirtung Fiord and into the park. Akshayuk Pass is the most popular route in the park — if the word “popular” can be applied — a 10-day, 97-km trek that carves between imposing peaks and permanent icefields. Rising sharply from the tundra, mountains such as Overlord, Asgard and Thor appear, well, godlike.


Rainbow & Sweetgrass

Wood Buffalo National Park, NWT/AB

Since Wood Buffalo National Park is larger than Switzerland, backcountry adventure is easy to find. Once away from the parking lot, you have a better chance of seeing one of the 5,000 bison than a fellow hiker. You might even spot North America’s largest bird, the endangered whooping crane. It’s unlikely you’ll wander your way to the world’s biggest beaver dam — but since it be seen from space, an aerial view would be better anyway. First-time visitors usually hike Rainbow Lakes or Sweetgrass Station Trails. Rainbow Lakes is an easy day-trod, though there is a wilderness campground along the six-kilometre route. Sweetgrass is twice as long, and wanders past the ruins of old bison corrals and across deltaic sedge meadows. Before you depart, check out the otherworldly Salt Plains, where an underground river has deposited saline crystals atop red samphire.

This article originally appeared in our Summer 2014 issue.


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