Nahanni National Park Reserve

Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Dehcho Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada, approximately west of Yellowknife, protects a portion of the Mackenzie Mountains Natural Region. The centrepiece of the park is the South Nahanni River. Four great canyons, called First, Second, Third and Fourth Canyon, line this spectacular whitewater river. The name Nahanni comes from the indigenous Dene language and can be translated as 'spirit.'

Virginia Falls

At Virginia Falls, the river plunges in a thunderous plume. It is more than twice the height of Niagara Falls. In the centre of the falls is a dramatic spire of resistant rock, called Mason's Rock after Bill Mason, the famous Canadian canoeist, author, and filmmaker. The area around the falls is home to several rare orchid species. There is a proposal to rename the falls after former Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau. Aside from the falls, there are many notable rapids on the river including Figure Eight, George's Riffle, and Lafferty's Riffle.

Flora and fauna

The park's sulphur hot springs, alpine tundra, mountain ranges, and forests of spruce and aspen are home to many species of birds, fish and mammals. At Rabbitkettle Hotsprings can be found the largest tufa mounds in Canada with the North Mound being high, wide and an estimated 10,000 years old. The park lies within three of Canada's ecozones, the Taiga Cordillera in the west, the Taiga Plains in the east and a small southern portion in the Boreal Cordillera.

A visitor centre in Fort Simpson features displays on the history, culture and geography of the area. The park was among the world's first four natural heritage locations to be inscribed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1978.


Originally established in 1972, by then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the park was in area. In 2003, an agreement between the Dehcho First Nations and Parks Canada gave temporary protection to . In August 2007, the federal government added an extra would be added, bringing the total area to more than , making Nahanni, Canada's third largest national park.

June 29 1964. After 41 persons had died attempting to conquer the Nahanni river, nicknamed “the man eater”, explorer parachutist Jean Poirel from Montreal jumped at its source 500 km North of Yellowknife, in an attempt to explore the valley for the first time. He was followed by his teammate and friend Bertrand Bordet. They found themselves in an unknown territory, and could not count on any help or rescue from the civilized world. In survival mode, they would have to affront le salvage force of the river and its freezing water, spongiest swamps, cold weather and hunger, wolves, grizzly bears, and more still, the continuous attacks of mosquitoes. Further downriver they reached the base camp established by claude Bernardin and Roger Rochat who arrived from yellowknife by sea plane. The four men continued the exploration, fighting the salvage force of the river and its freezing rapids.

Jean Poirel imagined the idea of going down the river with inflatable dinghies, opening the path to a new “rafting” sport. Against all odds and after months of fighting the unknown, they vainquished the river and its dangerous rapids. During the following four consecutive expeditions in the valley Jean Poirel discovered more that 250 caverns. The most important contained 116 Dall sheep’s skeletons aged of 2500 years, (carbon 14 dating) giving this discovery an inestimable value. Jean Poirel named it “Valerie Cavern” after his daughter. He took topographic notes and drew detailed maps, paving the way to the Nahanni park creation. During his last expedition in 1972, he escorted Pierre Trudeau, who came in person to estimate this superb and fascinating region.

The only practical way to get to Nahanni National Park is by floatplane or by helicopter. Around 800-900 people visit the park every year.

See also


External links

Search another word or see Nahanni_National_Park_Reserveon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature