Province/Territory: Northwest Territories

Enter an ancient wilderness steeped in aboriginal history

  • 360km, no portages, 13 days
  • 350 kilometres of safe yet challenging rapids and swifts
  • 12,000 years as a travel route for Dene hunters

Embrace your adventurous spirit and paddle the iconic and spectacular Keele River on a two-week journey through safe yet challenging rapids and swifts. With your experienced guides at Canoe North Adventures, explore the pristine Canadian wilderness near the Yukon border, and enter remote, unspoiled wild lands rich in wildlife, history and culture.

Fly by float plane into the headwaters of the Keele River and find yourself transfixed by the immense beauty of the terrain. Spend the next two weeks on a thrilling adventure along 350 kilometers of turquoise waters through gorgeous mountain scenery and alpine slopes with panoramic views. From your experienced guides, learn the skills needed to be safe and confident on the river. See caribou, moose, eagles and Dall’s sheep. Discover an area steeped in Aboriginal history: learn how, for 12,000 years, the river served as a travel route for Mountain Dene hunters, who trapped beaver and hunted moose, then used the hides to build skin boats. Explore the Shezal Canyon, marked by endless sweeping curves and swirling eddies. Experience an extraordinary trip in the company of personal guides who openly share their love and knowledge of the Keele River.

Trips accommodate both novices and advanced canoeists, and depart in July and August.

Why you should visit
  • Step into an ancient wilderness of spectacular mountain scenery and steeped in aboriginal history and the era of the intrepid explorers who traversed this epic terrain.
  • Dip your canoe into the headwaters of the ancient Keele River watercourse, a region rich in beauty, wildlife and history.
  • Hike the same traditional trails high into the headwaters at the continental divide that Dene hunters have used for thousands of years to track moose and trap beaver.
  • See the mountains start pulling away from the river as you paddle down to camps near Red Dog Creek and the Talking Cliffs.
  • Canoe the historic Mackenzie River to Tulita for a historic walkabout and camp at Great Bear Rock.
  • Spot caribou, moose, eagles and Dall’s sheep congregating along the shoreline.
  • Fish for both arctic grayling and bull trout, then fry them over an open campfire.
  • Board your charter homebound flight, exhilarated from days spent flying down 200 metre long whitewater ramps and with memories that will remain with you forever.


  • Summer temperatures in the Northwest Territories range from 10°C to 22°C. The weather is usually dry and sunny, with daylight lasting 18 to 24 hours.
  • The weather in Northern Canada can be unpredictable. Cold spells and high winds occur without warning, creating tough conditions for wilderness travellers. Snow can fall in any month.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
Visitor information
  • Get tips on what to pack and expedition rates & dates.
  • Read about the great Scottish explorer, Alexander MacKenzie, while you’re paddling the waters of the great river that bears his name.
When to go
  • Canoe North Adventures offers expeditions on a variety of rivers from mid June to mid September but only one or two full expeditions per river per year.
Need to know
  • Typically, river trips are 14 day excursions including travel days.
  • Before your river adventure, sign up for at least one training session to brush up on your paddling skills.
  • Required paddler skill level for the Keele River – Class II and III – novice to intermediate.
  • The pace of each trip is determined by the group and its least experienced member.
  • Summer water temperatures can range from 0°C to 20°C, which means a dunking can cause instant numbing or hypothermia.
  • Insects can be a serious nuisance. Mosquitoes appear first, reaching their greatest numbers towards the end of June and through July. Come prepared.
Getting Here
  • The Keele River is located in the Sahtu region of Canada’s Far North.
  • The trip basecamp of Norman Wells (population 800) is 685 km or 2 hrs by air from Yellowknife.
  • Flights to Norman Wells require an overnight in either Edmonton or Yellowknife.