Province/Territory: Northwest Territories

Sample traditional Dene culture in a modern lodge setting

  • 72 mile (115 km) scenic float plane or jet-boat ride
  • 05 nights under the Midnight Sun at a First Nations lodge
  • 06 big Northern creatures in the wild

Hop onto a float plane or step into a jet-boat in Fort Simpson for the shuttle to North Nahanni Naturalist Lodge in the road-less wilderness of the Northwest Territories. The only aboriginal-owned-and-operated eco-lodge in spectacular Nahanni National Park Reserve is on the shore of Cli Lake where your hosts, the Letcher family, have trapped for generations. Fish for northern pike and grayling. Go flight-seeing over Nahanni’s mountain ranges, plateaus and canyons. See Virginia Falls plummeting twice the height of Niagara Falls. Paddle the lake in morning mist. Hike pristine forest, on the watch for mountain goats, caribou and moose. Finish the day back at the log lodge adorned with traditional Dene art and locally-made birch bark baskets. Share stories alongside the woodstove, gaining insights into the traditional Dene way of life. Dine on local “country foods” like moose stew, whitefish and warm bannock. Then relax in the sauna before falling asleep to the sound of a distant wolf howling under the Midnight Sun.

Why you should visit
  • A scenic jet-boat ride or bush plane flight to reach a wilderness log lodge.
  • Spending time with local First Nations including an introduction to Dene culture from an elder.
  • Canoeing, fishing and swimming the pristine waters of Cli Lake.
  • Heli-hiking and taking a photography tour of massive river canyons at Ram Plateau.
  • Spotting caribou, grizzlies, lynx and red fox on guided hikes to viewpoints of surrounding mountains.
  • Dining on fresh local Dene cuisine like caribou stew and freshly caught whitefish.
  • Visiting Fort Simpson, an 1804 North West Company fur trading post, and shopping for Dene arts and crafts.
  • End-of-the-day relaxation in a hot tub or log sauna.

Weather

  • The Fort Simpson region has a subarctic climate. Summers are short, though days are long, balmy and sunny with temperatures often reaching the mid 20°C's. In fall, from late August through September, days become short and brisk. In winter the thermometer hovers around -20°C, but can also drop lower.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
Visitor information
When to go
  • The best time to visit is mid-June to August, the warmest months, with long days for hiking, paddling, mountain biking and touring.
  • Winters, from November through February, are long and cold with little daylight –great for Aurora Borealis viewing. Snowy winter activities like snowshoeing are fun in March or April when the sun and thermometer have risen to a more comfortable level.
Need to know
  • Four and five-night packages are offered.
  • The lodge is open year round.
  • There are special summer packages for jet-boating big rivers, fishing, flightseeing and Nahanni hiking adventures, as well as survival training courses.
  • Custom three night/four day winter trips are offered for those interested in ice fishing, winter adventure and Northern Lights viewing.
  • The experience is located on Cli Lake, 72 miles west of Fort Simpson in the Nahanni Mountain Range.
  • Reach the lodge in summer by jet boat or floatplane and in winter by snowmobile or ski-equipped plane.
  • A Dene crafts workshop can be arranged for children.
  • Pack sunscreen and insect repellent in spring and summer.
Getting Here