Welcome to a national park that sees fewer people per year than the summit of Mount Everest.
Set entirely north of the Arctic Circle, Ivvavik National Park is a vast, rugged and raw landscape where pristine nature melds with thousands of years of Inuvialuit culture. It is unique—untouched by the last Ice Age, with rare geological formations sculpting the landscape. It is massive—at more than 10,000 square kilometres, Ivvavik stretches from Alaska to the Mackenzie River Delta and from the British Mountains to the Arctic Ocean. It is rife with adventures—from alpine hikes, to wildlife viewings, to cultural experiences with an engaging interpreter. And it is remote—unplug entirely and connect with nature, culture and yourself on an adventure in Canada’s Arctic. Yet it is also accessible—via Parks Canada’s fly-in basecamp trips.
Parks Canada/F. Mueller
Discover Ivvavik National Park
Located at the northern tip of Yukon—Canada’s first national park formed under an Aboriginal land agreement—Ivvavik merges impressive natural treasures with a rich human story. Since 2012, Parks Canada has been offering fly-in trips to Ivvavik during the summer season, allowing guests to explore these exciting environs from a comfortable base camp.
Imniarvik base camp is set amidst breathtaking scenery. Glassy-clear Sheep Creek flows by with a pleasant white noise. Beyond, spruce trees speckle the muskeg, leading to open alpine tundra dotted with Arctic lupines and forget-me-nots. Lichen-stained shale pokes through as the landscape gains elevation. The British Mountains rise at the edges of the sightlines; treeless massifs that fade from green to rust and, on the highest peaks, to snow that never melts even in the 24 hours of sunlight that summer brings. And the Firth River grinds through the centre of it all, flanked by canyon walls scarred with syncline and anticline rocks. As part of Beringia, Ivvavik was not glaciated during the Ice Ages—proof of this are the park’s signature tors, rock formations resembling the ruins of ancient castles that jab from atop every peak and ridgeline.
“Ivvavik” is Inuvialuktun for “a place for giving birth, a nursery,” as the park provides habitat and breeding grounds for the 197,000-strong Porcupine caribou herd, plus countless grizzlies and other mammals from primordial muskox to frenetic sik-siks. Ivvavik also preserves the Inuvialuit peoples’ right to hunt and fish for subsistence on this land—part of a human history illuminated by every trip’s accompanying Inuvialuit Cultural Host.
Parks Canada/F. Mueller
Arctic Hiking: Ivvavik National Park offers some of Canada’s finest hiking experiences. One trek and it’s easy to see why—virtually all routes are above the treeline, providing nonstop panoramic vistas. Unique Arctic flora, fascinating geology and an expansive landscape only a handful of humans will ever see weaves together an unforgettable tapestry of adventure. Plus, with 24 hours of sunlight, the hiking day is as long as you’d like to make it.
Guests may begin with a gentle exploration of the Firth River, perhaps spotting artefacts from a 1940s-era gold mining operation. A climb to Inspiration Point always excites with its 360-degree views. Further on, Wolf Tors offers a long and rewarding day that culminates with an up-close view of a ridgeline of tors—unique and abrupt geologic formations endemic to this region. Finally, Halfway to Heaven, the most challenging hike of all, leads the adventurous to the peak of an 800-metre-tall mountain, highlighting some of the park’s most unique rock formations.
View more information here.
Cultural Experiences: There is so much more to this area than outdoor recreation—for the region’s Inuvialuit, this is home. Every Parks Canada excursion into Ivvavik National Park also features an Inuvialuit Cultural Host. He or she is available to answer questions about the culture, the land and the connection between the two.
You’ll get hands-on with Inuvialuit tools, games and clothing. Perhaps you can try on a traditional anorak, adorned with beautiful Delta Braid? Or compete against one another while testing your hand-eye coordination with a selection of Arctic games? Engaging with the trip’s Inuvialuit Cultural Host provides insight into the importance of Ivvavik, adding to the richness of the experience.
View more information here.
Digital Detox: Ivvavik is a land well beyond roads, cellphone signals and wi-fi. It is a place to disconnect; to be mindful and in the moment; to immerse in the natural surroundings and take pleasure in simple activities like a hike, a swim or just gazing into the wilderness. You’ll have no communication with the outside world during your entire five-day trip. This type of digital detox only exists in a handful of places on Earth—it is the ultimate in rejuvenation.
Add-On Adventure: Select trips include a stopover at Herschel Island/Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park. This 116-square-kilometre Arctic island was the site of a whaling station in the late 1800s; structures and artefacts still remain onsite. If you’re brave, you can even take a swim in the Arctic Ocean.
When You Go
Parks Canada offers a small number of fully catered five-day basecamp trips into Ivvavik National Park in June, July and August. Departures from Inuvik. View the availability calendar here.
Visitors to Parks Canada’s Imniarvik base camp in Ivvavik National Park can expect wall-tents with bunk or queen beds, a cookhouse with solar power, a workshop, two flush toilets, one hot shower, a screened-in patio and the security of an electric wildlife fence. All hikes are fully guided. Trips are all-inclusive from Inuvik.