Canoe North Adventures

For over 30 Years, Canoe North Adventures has been making memories for life. With bases in Norman Wells & Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories, CNA provides guided wilderness canoe and rafting trips on some of the most renowned wilderness rivers in Canada, including the Nahanni, Keele and Horton Rivers. Owners Al Pace, Lin Ward and Taylor Pace have dedicated their lives to curating quality expeditions for their guests that provide a backdrop to unwind, reconnect and share a truly spectacular wilderness experience in the most wild spaces left in Canada. CNA's professional guides will share their enthusiasm with you and provide a safe and fun experience while on trip. Let the adventure begin!

Overview

The Nahanni River is the most iconic river in Canada’s North. Flowing 550 Km in total, it snakes past the tallest peaks in the Mackenzie Mountains then plunges almost 100 m over Virginia Falls. Surrounded by a National Park in 1974 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, the Nahanni’s incredible scenery, indigenous history and legendary whitewater paddling have made this Canada’s canoeing mecca.
This 14-day expedition begins 125km upstream of Virginia Falls at Rabbitkettle Lake and provides an opportunity to experience almost everything that Nahanni National Park and the river have to offer including views of the Cirque of the Unclimbables, the Rabbitkettle tufa mounds and the deepest canyons in Canada.
Starting at
$7015 USD
$9585 CAD
Per Person

Trip Highlights

  • Excellent wildlife viewing
  • Improve your paddling skills
  • Paddle the deepest canyon in Canada
  • Explore the ancient tufa mounds

Canoe North Adventures

For over 30 Years, Canoe North Adventures has been making memories for life. With bases in Norman Wells & Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories, CNA provides guided wilderness canoe and rafting trips on some of the most renowned wilderness rivers in Canada, including the Nahanni, Keele and Horton Rivers. Owners Al Pace, Lin Ward and Taylor Pace have dedicated their lives to curating quality expeditions for their guests that provide a backdrop to unwind, reconnect and share a truly spectacular wilderness experience in the most wild spaces left in Canada. CNA's professional guides will share their enthusiasm with you and provide a safe and fun experience while on trip. Let the adventure begin!

Quick Facts

Paddlesport

  • Canoeing

Activity

  • Whitewater
  • Expedition
  • Canoe Tripping

Experience/Service

  • Paddling Trip

Waterway

  • Whitewater Class II
  • Whitewater Class III

Destination

  • North America

Length

  • 14 Days

Accomodation

  • Wilderness Camping

Guided

  • Yes

Outfitted

  • Fully

Special Interest

  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Adventure Level

Easier Challenging

Itinerary

60°42'54.0"N 135°04'31.4"W

Meeting Place

Whitehorse, Yukon

Starting in Whitehorse, and ending in Fort Simpson. In 14 days, experience almost everything that Nahanni National Park and the river have to offer including views of the Cirque of the Unclimbables, the Rabbitkettle tufa mounds and the incredible canyons of the Nahanni River.

Day 1:

Depart from Whitehorse to beautiful Watson Lake, a 4.5 hour drive away down the fabled Alaska Highway. After the gorgeous drive, with lots of opportunity to spot wildlife, meet your guides at the float base along the shores of Watson Lake. After some short preparations, Fly into the river.

Day 2:

After Breakfast, Enjoy a guided tour of the magical Rabbitkettle Tufamounds and relax on the beautiful shores of Rabbitkettle Lake, before departing the lake for a paddle downstream in the afternoon. The views of the ragged range are awe inspiring as we paddle downstream are spectacular.

Day 3:

Your first full day of paddling on the Nahanni. A long and beautiful paddle meanders through the glacially carved Nahanni Valley. Your first rapids test you and there are many beautiful streams to swim in along the way. Camping is on a large alluvial limestone fan.

Day 4:

The river slows and after another relaxing day on the Nahanni, we find our way to a small cutoff oxbow lake, just a few KM upstream of Virginia Falls for camp.

Day 5:

After a short 12km paddle we arrive at Virginia Falls before lunch. We spend the rest of the day setting up camp, exploring the falls and beginning our portage.

Day 6:

A layover day with opportunities to hike and explore the falls or Sunblood mountain, portage or relax.

Day 7:

We complete the 1.5km portage around Virginia Falls and load the canoes prior to entering Nahanni’s legendary canyons - the first which is known as Painted canyon. Inside its towering walls lay some of the biggest rapids on the Nahanni River, up to class 3 in difficulty, and we will rise to the chal

Day 8:

We canoe to the gate of Third Canyon at the confluence with the Mary River, with 1200m walls awaiting us downstream. On our way we pass through Figure 8 and tricky currents rapids. This beautiful day of paddling also features some tricky moments with whirlpools and boily water.

Day 9:

Another glorious day on the river takes us through the 3nd Canyon to the Gate, a huge cleft in a canyon wall that the Nahanni river squeezes through. Arriving around noon, we take our time to set up our camp and then ascend up to the top of the gate for a panoramic view of the surrounding area.

Day 10:

After taking one last look at the spectacular Gate, we depart down river through 3rd and 2nd canyons into the Headless Valley, a place shrouded in mystery, myth and legend. A longish day, we arrive late in the afternoon at Dry Canyon camp, with 1st canyon just in sight downstream.

Day 11:

Upon awaking people have the opportunity to take a short early morning hike up Dry Canyon before we descend into the maw of 1st canyon. Guarding its secrets however is the famous Georges Riffle. After navigating this rapid, we paddle through the deepest canyon in Canada, in awe of its beauty.

Day 12:

Layover day to, weather permitting, explore the spectacular side canyon of Lafferty Creek. After a pleasant but boulder strewn 5km hike you arrive at a slot canyon carved in the limestone through the eons which you will have to swim up while exploring!

Day 13:

We leave the canyons behind and after shooting Lafferty's Riffle, a class 2-3 wavetrain, bathe ourselves in the relaxing waters of Kraus's Hotspring. A long day of paddling through the braided channels of the splits gets us to Last Chance camp, just 20km upstream from the end of our Journey.

Day 14:

After 20km of flatwater we arrive at the lovely hamlet of Nahanni Butte- a short distance upstream from the end of the Nahanni River. From here we take river taxi and then a van ride back to Fort Simpson where we will stay the night and celebrate our adventure together!

Dates & Packages

14-Day Nahanni River Canoe Expedition

August 2-15th, 2025
Airport pickup and return Van Shuttle to Watson Lake Charter flights to and from the river. Royalex Canoes 17′, with spray decks All required Paddling Gear including PFD, paddles, Helmet, Neoprene vest/shorts & paddling jacket. 60L personal watertight barrel with harness (holds about 30 to 35lbs of clothing and gear). Eureka K-2 Expedition Tents. All quality camping equipment and gear. Camp chairs for each person on the trip. Certified guides with a maximum ratio of 5:1. Hearty and nutritious trip meals including two snacks (GORP) each day. Emergency satellite phone and two-way radios for guide-staff.

What Guests Are Saying

I loved every part of the canoe trip on the Nahanni River. Our guides were fantastic, and CNA supplied us with everything we could possibly need to make this trip unforgettable plus the meals were absolutely delicious! Paddling the Nahanni River really is a life changing experience.

- Leanne C
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