The park office for Nahanni National Park Reserve is located in Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories. There are no public roads in Nahanni National Park Reserve, visitors must access the park via air or hike in.

Air Access

©Parks Canada / J.W.Borcoman

The vast majority of visitors travel to the park by chartered floatplane. Floatplanes may be chartered in many of the regional communities, including Fort Simpson and Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, Muncho Lake in British Columbia, and Watson Lake, Yukon. Visitors planning to charter a floatplane should ensure that the company they choose has a valid National Park business licence, and that the pilot is familiar with the region.

Your group size, and the type and amount of gear you are bringing will determine the type of aircraft you need to charter. Air charter costs can vary significantly, and individual companies have different types of aircraft, some of which may be more suited to your group's particular needs than others.


Nahanni map 2010

Map of Nahanni National Park Reserve

Day visitors typically travel to the park by chartered floatplane departing from Fort Simpson. These services are also available from the other locations mentioned above. Virginia Falls and Glacier Lake are the only day-use landing sites in the park.

People typically begin their river trips at one of four locations; the average length of time most people take to complete their trip from these locations are:

  • Virginia Falls 7-10 days
  • Rabbitkettle Lake 10-14 days
  • Island Lakes 14-18 days
  • The Mooseponds 21 days

Virginia Falls, Glacier Lake, Bunny Bar, Island Lake, Honeymoon Lake, Seaplane Lake, and Rabbitkettle Lake are designated aircraft landing sites within Nahanni National Park Reserve.

All aircraft operators must have permits to land in the park. Permits are available from the park office .

All visitors to Nahanni National Park Reserve must pay the appropriate user fees. Overnight visitors are required to register with the park office, and de-register upon their safe return.

Click here for a list of licensed air charter operators.

Small Nahanni map
Detailed map of Nahanni

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Commercial Outfitters

Approximately 50% of the visitors to Nahanni National Park Reserve use the services of a commercial outfitter. Many companies advertise or promote canoe or white-water raft trips on the South Nahanni River. Only three are currently licensed by Parks Canada. If you plan to use the services of a commercial outfitting company, your safety depends on choosing a recognized and legally licensed company. If you are aware of unlicensed companies promoting trips on the South Nahanni River, please inform the park office.

Click here for a list of licensed commercial outfitters.

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Overland Access

Although there are no public roads inside Nahanni National Park Reserve, there are several ambitious and demanding overland routes. It is possible to reach the headwaters of the South Nahanni River at the Mooseponds (outside of the park) by travelling overland across the continental divide from the Yukon. Some people also access the South Nahanni River by driving to the former mining town of Tungsten from Watson Lake in the Yukon. The road to Tungsten is not maintained on a regular basis, and is frequently impassable. When it is passable, a four-wheel drive vehicle is required to reach Tungsten. At Tungsten, travellers may choose either the Little Nahanni River or the Flat River to descend to the South Nahanni River. The Little Nahanni and Flat rivers each contain Class IV and Class V rapids. Only expert paddlers should consider travelling on these rivers.

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Road Distances from Fort Simpson:

  • Yellowknife, Northwest Territories: 628 km
  • Alberta / Northwest Territories border: 475 km
  • Alaska Highway junction: 648 km
  • British Columbia / Northwest Territories border: 317 km
  • Edmonton, Alberta: 1470 km
  • Fort Nelson, British Columbia 479


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