Tuesday, September 19, 2017

North of Sixty

The spectacular Northwest Territories...as they are billed...deserve another post.

We crossed the border into NWT and followed the 'waterfalls route' north.  We saw so many waterfalls that the names escape me already.  That is one reason why I need to blog our road trips...
when the memory fails, there is still a record!

Waterfalls #1.  Alexander Falls is the third highest falls in NWT and is n the Hay River in Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park.

We followed a two kilometer trail along the river and through the aspen groves...

Waterfalls #2:  Louise Falls

We spent the night in Hay River, known as 'the hub of the north'...

...where the Hay River empties into Great Slave Lake.  The first buildings in the town of Hay River were erected in 1869 by the Hudson's Bay Company.

Waterfalls #3:  McNallie Creek Falls was a short hike from the picnic area of a Territorial Park.

Waterfalls #4:  Lady Evelyn Falls will always be the 'falls of the bug plague' in our memory.  We hiked the trail, saw the falls and retreated in a big hurry!

At Fort Providence, we took a detour off the Mackenzie Highway and headed north to Yellowknife.  We were warned about this very rough stretch of highway, but found it better than expected. The highway passes through the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary...

...home of a free-ranging herd of the large wood bison. 

Welcome to Yellowknife...where an old Ward Air plane is suspended on a pole next to the highway.  The freighter was used to transport supplies to remote trading posts and was the first plane to touch down at the North Pole (in May of 1967).  Max Ward of Yellowknife was was the owner of Ward Air, which was once one of the largest airlines in Canada.  I remember flying on a Ward Air flight to Hawaii in the late seventies...and being served dinner on fine china.  Ward Air later became Canadian Airlines.

One of our first stops was the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, a museum that has it all---from biplanes to mining memorabilia and moose-skin boats.

It was a good way to meet all the northern animals face to face!

We arrived in Yellowknife on a Tuesday and checked out the weekly farmer's market in the town square.  We sampled Indian food and beef BBQ and shared a table with a student from Oxford university who had spent the summer in a remote Dene village of 40 people and was on her way back to England and civilization. We chatted with a couple from northern Alberta and discovered that we knew people in common. Spending a night in the city square on 'market Tuesday' was a great way to connect with both the visitors and the locals.

That evening we drove up the hill to Pilot's Monument, a popular lookout above Old Town with a fabulous view of Great Slave Lake.The monument itself is dedicated to the bush pilots who have lost their lives flying in the wilderness skies of Northwest Territories.

There is a 'houseboat village' out in the bay, and we chatted with another tourist from B.C. who was staying at a houseboat B&B.

The monument is high up on a rock...the great views are only for those who are willing to climb the hundreds of stairs.

Prospector's Trail is an easy two-hour loop trail  next to Long Lake that starts in Fred Henne Territorial Park, our headquarters while in Yellowknife.  Gold was discovered here in 1935, and the interpretive trail is a look into that time.  I can't say I have ever hiked trails before that were entirely over the rock.   Thankfully, the trail was well marked since it was impossible to see where anyone had walked previously!

We took in a free tour of the legislative assembly...a beautiful glass-domed building on Frame Lake.

We learnt a lot...about their government, the history, and even the building itself.  We saw the nine oil-paintings by A.Y. Jackson (featuring scenes from around Great Bear and Great Slave Lake) which have been hanging on the wall for years. They were donated to the territories in the 1940's and '50's and are priceless works of art.

We carried on past Yellowknife along the Ingraham Trail...to the waterfalls 'at the end of the road'.

Waterfalls #5: Cameron Falls was worth the trek out there.

We followed a trail along the Cameron River...

...where some were wading in the pools and others were fishing.

Above the falls, we crossed the river on a suspension bridge.

Prelude Lake is another lovely spot along the Ingraham Trail near Yellowknife.

After spending three delightful days in the Yellowknife area, we headed back towards the Mackenzie Highway.

We camped on the banks of the Mackenzie River and watched the barges moving cargo.

Waterfalls #6: Coral Falls along the Trout River is named for the fossils that are washed down the river each year.

Waterfalls #7: Sambaa Deh Falls is also on the Trout River and lies right beneath the bridge on the main highway...photo taken from the passenger window!

Next stop...Fort Simpson, where the Liard and Mackenzie rivers converge.  With a population of 1200, this is the largest community in the region. 

From beach volleyball on the river, to historic buildings, lovely gardens and ancient cemeteries...we enjoyed our walks about the town.

We observed that every vehicle is a truck.  Most drive a Ford.  No vehicles are clean. There is only one place to gas up.  There is only one place to buy anything...from soup to nuts to the kitchen sink.  It would take some getting used to...living in such a remote location.

The highlight of our time in Fort Simpson was our flight into Nahanni Park...which I will save for another post.

To come and go from Fort Simpson requires a ferry trip across the Liard River.  As you can tell, it wasn't too busy when we crossed.

Once we left Fort Simpson, we began the journey southward and homeward.  It's not something everyone would enjoy...driving hundreds of miles on gravel roads through northern forests.  But we did!

Seeing herds of bison roaming along the road was quite an amazing sight.

This post is plenty long enough, so let me leave you with one last shot...that of the sun setting on the Mackenzie River.


  1. Judy, I enjoy your travel posts and this one is no exception. Your photos are gorgeous and your commentary on the places you visit is informative and interesting. You have a skill for making the location come alive. Thank you for taking us along on your journeys!

  2. Wow, wow, and more wows! What a lot of fabulous eye candy you found. Beautiful scenery. All those waterfalls! Glad you made the trek safely. You and Elmer are my traveling heroes. :)

  3. You are making the most of Canada's 150 celebration by venturing to these remote places. Such beautful places to hike and explore! If ever we did a trip like that I'd want you along as travel guides. =)

  4. Another wonderful trip! It sure had gorgeous scenery and not one bug showed up in the photo of the falls! Of all the photos, I most liked the one of Elmer in the Aspen trees or maybe the one of you both on the rock with Elmer doing a bit of a balancing act. 🙂

  5. What a fantastic trip! This is something we'd like to do one day. Sounds like you covered a lot of ground and saw such great scenery. I didn't know there were so many waterfalls up there.


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