Nunavut’s parks and special places can delight and fill visitors with wonder. There are several national and territorial Parks – including the largest National Park in Canada, Quttinirpaaq, near Resolute Bay. While some of these parks are accessible for self-accessed day trips (Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, Inujjaruvik Territorial Park) most will depend on a guide or a well planned trip to access. Nunavut’s special place includes wildlife sanctuaries and heritage rivers. Many of the operators can advise on the best trip for visitors.
Parks & Special Places
The Government of Nunavut creates and maintains an excellent selection of territorial parks. These parks are accessible even for solo visitors and provide an excellent overview of the land and culture of Nunavut.
Explore our Territorial Parks
Located 10 kms from Rankin Inlet, Iqalugaarjup Nunanga Territorial Park is easily accessible by road. This easy proximity does not take away from the deep cultural value of the site. Numerous archaeological remains are located here and provide first-hand insight into what traditional Inuit fishing camps looked like. Tent rings, fox traps, qajaq storage and food caches are all still visible, as well as the sunken remains of 2,500 year old Thule Inuit sod houses.
This park also signifies an important aspect of modern life in Rankin Inlet. The community gathers in the park for special events and celebrations. At the end of the road is a cabin that built by the community for elders, and this location is often used for passing on traditional knowledge to younger people.
In the summer, people flock to the park for swimming as soon as the temperature approaches 15 degrees Celsius. Small, sandy lakes dot the rolling esker that is the heart of the park allowing kids of all ages to get a much-needed swim.
In the late summer the esker and valleys will be teeming with determined berry pickers, looking to quickly gather the delicious blackberries, blueberries and bake apple berries that dot the land. Throughout the year, Rankin Inlet residents travel to this important park to obtain the fresh, clear water from the river for use in their tea. Iqalugaarjup Nunanga Territorial Park is an oasis of wonder on the doorstep of Nunavut’s second largest community.
Katannilik Territorial Park is in close proximity to the territorial capital. The Soper River Valley, at the heart of the park is a microclimate that provides for lush vegetation in the summer that draws in hikers and canoeists from around the world.
Katannilik is home to a variety of plants and animals as well as over 4000 years of Inuit history. Caribou and wolves are found in the park, as are arctic willows that are much larger than others in Nunavut. The Soper River is not a technically challenging trip for seasoned canoeists allowing for attention and time to soak in all the beauty that the park offers.
Trips into the park are available through Iqaluit and Kimmirut, with local Outfitters holding a wealth of knowledge of this pristine environment. Journeys are available by dogsled, snowmobile, boat or aircraft, with a natural runway for small aircraft located at Mount Joy.
Katannilik Territorial Park is used extensively by Iqaluit and Kimmirut residents looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of town life for hunting and fishing and other recreational activities. Excellent information about the park is available at the visitor’s centre in Kimmirut and in Iqaluit.
Katannilik trips are usually longer duration trips necessitating careful planning. Visitors to the park are required to register prior to their trip at the visitor’s centre in Kimmirut or Iqaluit.
The harbour in Kekerton Park provides a truly spectacular experience. The natural beauty of Cumberland Sound, with its magnificent fiords and abundance of wildlife is a draw in and of itself. Kerkerten will also reveals the history of contact between Inuit and Outsiders like few places can. Whalers began using Kerkerten in the 1850s and continued to overwinter here until the 1910s.
The whalers are gone today. There are few places in Nunavut that highlight the historic connection with whalers more than Kerkerten Territorial Park. Whalers often spent much of their time in Lancaster Sound, but the plentiful whale population and natural harbour at Kerkerten drew them further south.
Today a visit to Kekerten can be undertaken in either the spring or summer with Outfitters from Pangnirtung. The park is entirely protected and while overnight camping here is not allowed, Kekerten makes an excellent day trip. Walk the wooden boardwalks and see the signs of the whalers equipment and facilities everywhere, providing an unparalleled glimpse to a bygone era that still resonates strongly today. In Pangnirtung, the Arngmalik Visitor’s Centre provides an excellent overview of this national treasure.
Despite it’s macabre name, Kugluk/Bloody Falls Territorial Park is a place of intense beauty, history and cultural importance. Named “Bloody Falls” because of a massacre of local Inuit in 1771, this park represents an area that has been widely used for centuries because of an abundance of fish and caribou. This makes Bloody Falls a truly important destination for Inuit.
The landscape around Kugluk/Bloody Falls Territorial Park is stunning. Rolling hills and steep cliffs rise from the river creating a perfect habitat for falcons and eagles. Caribou roam the lush tundra in the summer and fall, filling up for the winter ahead. Anglers know that this is a world-class spot to catch Arctic Char and a perfect spot to partake in a delicious meal of fresh char on the shoreline.
Paddlers from around the world yearn for the stunning experience of canoeing or kayaking the mighty Coppermine River, and Bloody Falls usually represents the ultimate destination for these explorers.
Accessible overland from nearby Kugluktuk by All-Terrain Vehicle or via a short but beautiful boat trip, Kugluk/Bloody Falls Territorial Park offers an unparalleled experience. Even the most experienced Arctic traveller has a special place in their heart for this magnificent destination.
Mallikjuaq Territorial Park, located near Cape Dorset, presents a stunning idea of what life has been like for Inuit for centuries. Archaeological remains at this park go back four thousand years, a sign that this has provided sustenance and shelter for countless generations. Today, this park continues to represent an important location for hunters and clam diggers from Cape Dorset. In Mallikjuaq Territorial Park, the rhythm of Inuit culture is on full display.
At first glance, Mallikjuaq is rugged and barren, but a walk through the park provides education of the intricacies and subtle beauty for which this area is renown. Hiking through the park furnishes encounters with countless archaeological remains, from ancient rock and sod houses that provided early Dorset Inuit with shelter, to the remnants of food caches and kayak stands.
A wealth of flora and fauna is on display at Mallikjuaq Territorial Park. In the summertime, life comes alive on the tundra and even in rock crevices. The subtle beauty of arctic heather and cotton as well as the vibrant Arctic Poppy makes a brief and defiant appearance through the receding winter snow.
Bird lovers will be drawn into the dizzying array of falcons, owls and migratory birds that return every summer. The high cliffs provide birds of prey with welcome shelter for their nests and allow them to feast on the abundance of wildlife that calls Mallikjuaq home. There is a large population of marine mammals in the area – beluga and seals and it is these animals that first drew Inuit into the area.
A visit to Mallikjuaq starts in Cape Dorset. The Mallikjuaq Park Centre offers useful context to the scope of the park. Local Outfitters traverse short distance to the site by boat or snowmobile and provide a fascinating overview of the archaeological and cultural remains in the park.
The search for the Northwest Passage dominated early exploration by European explorers. This search created a mythology around the passage that has grown over time. The early actors such as Sir John Franklin represent central characters in a narrative that is known the world over.
The people of Gjoa Haven have been the keepers of the true story of the Northwest Passage search and this was highlighted most recently with the discovery of Sir Franklin’s ship, the HMS Terror based largely on the oral history of the Inuit in this community.
It is telling that the early, unsuccessful expeditions resisted the idea of listening to local Inuit for survival, while the first successful passage by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen relied heavily on local knowledge. His ship, the Gjoa, is the namesake for the community overwintered here for two seasons.
The Northwest Passage Trail is located around Gjoa Haven. Walking this important trail will put the mythology of the Northwest Passage in perspective, and reveal the historical significance of the interaction between explorers and Inuit. The trail leads to these important spots furnishing and opportunity to absorb the sights and sounds of Arctic History.
This hike is not only for history buffs. Experience the flora and fauna of the area as well. Animals such as caribou and musk ox are known to frequent the area, drawing in magnificent predators such as wolves and polar bears. In the summer it hosts a vast array of migratory birds.
The Northwest Passage Information Centre in Gjoa Haven provides an excellent overview of the Trail and a link with the living keepers of the history of the Passage.
Located 22 kilometers from town, the central highlight of Ovayok Territorial Park is three mountains that rise above the rolling tundra. The place to experience the wonder of a herd of musk ox, standing silent sentinel above the land. It is also possible to see the unique local caribou that are likely the result of intermixing of the bigger barrenland caribou and the high arctic Perry caribou.
The park is also home to a wide variety of birdlife, with geese, swans, loons, ducks and shorebirds filling the skies in the summer. Owls and falcons patrol overhead in search of squirrels and lemmings. The haunting cry of jaegers echo across the tundra.
People from Cambridge Bay love to use this park for recreation- picnics and camping- to escape from the pressures of modern town life. The serenity and beauty recharges the soul. Trips to the park can be arranged either as self guided journeys of discovery or through local outfitters who provide an experience for all your senses. Visiting the Arctic Coast Regional Visitor’s Centre in Cambridge Bay is a useful starting point for your trip.
In contrast to the modern and eclectic mix of cultures in the nearby capital city of Iqaluit, Qaumaarviit Territorial Park is an important site recognizing the strength and history of local Inuit. The well-defined historical and archaeological remains tell a story of centuries of Inuit occupation, drawn to the area because of an abundance of hunting both marine mammals and caribou.
The journey to Qaumaarviit delivers a sense of what it must have been like for the proud hunters and their families navigating the silver waters of Frobisher Bay in search of seals and whales. The stark beauty of distant mountains juxtaposed with the open ocean provides a feast of vistas for photographers. This Park is surprisingly accessible and a treat for all senses.
The clearly defined boardwalk and signage are an excellent and thoughtful guide to insights on early Inuit culture. There are tent rings and sod houses that are the remains of dwellings used over the past 750 years.
What drew Inuit to this area is the abundance of wildlife that is still present today. Along the journey to the park, see the vast numbers of seals swimming in the ocean or basking on the sea ice. Walrus and sometimes bowhead whales can be sighted in the summer. Birds of prey nest on the sheer cliffs of the island and shoreline.
The relative warmth of the spring makes this an ideal destination for those wanting to experience the ancient art of dogsledding. Travel with Iqaluit outfitters who carry on this tradition. Outfitters can provide boat transportation in the summer. The Unikkaarvik Visitor’s Centre in Iqaluit can provide up to date information on the seasonal options available.
The incredible beauty of Iqaluit is highlighted by this wonderful territorial park located within the Capital City. The Sylvia Grinnell River is the lifeblood of the community, providing an abundance of char and sparkling clean water and recreation for the residents of Iqaluit.
A short walk or ride from Iqaluit to a true immersive experience in Nunavut’s wonderful landscape. The rolling hills and rich tundra are home to a variety of flora and fauna delivering a taste of the true Arctic in its complex and delicate balance.
Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park is widely used by local residents and is an opportunity to onteract with locals fishing or camping in the park. The vibrant nature of this park makes it very much a living experience, teaching as much about modern Nunavut culture as about traditional Inuit culture. The fishers may be catching char to bring home for delicious char sushi or for a BBQ on their deck in town.
Local outfitters deliver incredible journeys through the park, but most visitors enjoy exploring the beauty of Sylvia Grinnell on their own.
Located near Coral Harbour, Fossil Creek Trail represents a treasure trove of ancient history, with the Nunavut’s largest concentration of known fossils. These fossil’s origins stretch back over 450 million years and will give you and your family a taste of being paleontologists!
Easily accessible, the trail is well marked with informative signage to add context to your hike. Surrounded by beautiful landscapes, you can step back in time to discover your own fossils from a time when Southampton Island was thought to be at the bottom of a tropical sea near the equator.
This experience can either be self guided or with an experienced local outfitter. It is highly recommended that you talk with local people about the possible presence of wildlife.
Within Nunavut you will find five tremendous National Parks. These parks highlight the strong commitment of Nunavummiut and Canadians to protecting unique ecosystems and wildlife populations. These parks are amongst the most remote, but also most rewarding parks in Canada.
Explore our National Parks
Located between Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq, Auyuittuq Park is a stunning visual experience that is a mecca for hikers, skiers and mountain climbers. Easily Nunavut’s most accessible park, outfitters in Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq can provide a range of services, be it a simple drop off, or a full guided hike.
Known for its springtime ski adventures or summertime hikes, visitors will see some of the world’s tallest vertical cliff faces and truly rugged mountains. Mountain climbers have flocked to Auyuittaq from around the world to challenge their skills at Mount Thor and Mount Asgard.
The well-marked trail through the park that stretches from Pangnirtung to Qikiqtarjuaq will allow you to have a safe experience. Visitors are required to check in prior to their Auyuittuq journey at the Parks Canada office in Pangnirtung. This will give an excellent overview of the experience and provide hikers with an added layer of safety.
Canada’s most northerly park is located at the northern end of Ellesmere Island. This park is truly remote but will reward with an experience that will remain forever. Quttinirpaaq is one of the least visited parks in Canada making all those who visit, one of a select few in the world to have seen the spectacular beauty of this park.
In many ways, this park represents an environment that is still untouched by humans and you will notice the subtle ways that nature is unique here. Animals are often not afraid of people and the local wolves, muskox and caribou will be just as curious about you as you are of them. In the summertime, visitors experience true 24 hour sunlight in this high arctic oasis, adding to the mysterious aura of the place.
Quttinirpaaq is perfect for those who want to hike, camp or ski in an environment where you will need to be completely self-reliant. The only permanent structures in the park are Parks Canada camps at Tanquary Fiord and Lake Hazen. This park is only accessible by charter aircraft based in Resolute but is geographically closest to Grise Fiord.
Sirmilik National Park is a stunningly beautiful park filled with an abundance of Arctic animals and birds. The tremendous biodiversity thrives and will make a journey here extremely memorable. Entry into Sirmilik is through Arctic Bay or Pond Inlet and visitors will find a dazzling array of ways to experience this wonderful place.
Hiking, skiing, kayaking, dogsledding and snowmobile trips are all available, making the journey as interesting as the destination. Visitors are often drawn to the floe edge in the spring- an oasis of marine mammals and birds are available in relatively close proximity. You can view narwhal and beluga silently patrolling in the ocean and being stalked by the powerful polar bear. Walrus and larger whales like Orcas and bowheads find their way to the floe edge as well. Visitors are also drawn to the Hoodoos, rare and remarkable geographic features carved out of the land by centuries of wind and erosion.
In the summer, you can hike or boat through this area known for the sheer numbers of migratory sea birds. The towering cliffs and clear blue icebergs will be your only distraction from this incredible diversity of wildlife.
Inuit have been living in and around Ukkusiksalik National Park for centuries, as evidenced by the over 500 archaeological sites in the park. What drew these ancient hunters to this land will also draw you back, time and time again: a fantastic array of iconic Arctic animals. Located around Wager Bay, Ukkusiksalik is home to many polar bears and whales, long a key part of Inuit life.
The landscape in Ukkusiksalik National Park is where the rolling barren land tundra starts to become more hilly and mountainous, making for tremendous views. Hiking or snowmobiling through the park will allow visitors to encounter many animals and incredible sites.
It is highly recommended that visitors to this park use the services of Outfitters from Naujaat, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet or Rankin Inlet, as this park will put you in close contact with Polar Bears. This will make the experience safer for you and for the bears, reducing the number of defence kills that may be required.
Charter aircraft in Baker Lake, or boat journeys from Chesterfield Inlet or Naujaat are the primary ways to access the park. It will take at least seven hours by boat, but along the way you will see marine mammals in concentrations that rival any other region in the world.
Qausuittuq National Park
What an exciting time for Parks Canada and the community of Resolute Bay as they work together to recreate a new national park on Bathurst. After a local contest, the name of the proposed national park was selected as Qausuittuq National Park. Qausuittuq means “place where the sun doesn't rise” in Inuktitut.
Negotiations to establish this park are ongoing and the proposed area will include the the Polar Bear Pass National Wildlife Area that is directly south of the proposed park. will together ensure protection of most of the northern half of Bathurst Island as well as protection of a number of smaller nearby islands.
Through Nunavut Parks, there are several special campground areas that are equipped with the basics required for tundra camping. These basics can include tent pads, fire pits, picnic areas, outhouses and windbreaks. Camping in Nunavut requires visitors to be fully prepared and have all gear, including some that may be specialized for wilderness camping. Tents should be secured against the winds and wildlife.
Explore campgrounds in Nunavut
Near the beautiful community of Pangnirtung, Pisuktinu Tunngavik has been recently expanded to include tent platforms, picnic areas, privies and a group fire pit. There are 8 tent spots that have various flooring (wooden platforms, sand, gravel & tent pads). This provides a great place to spend evenings while days can be spent exploring the offerings of Pangnirting including Auyuittuq National Park, Kekerten Territorial Park, the HBC Blubber Station and the Uqqurmiut Arts & Crafts Centre.
Tamaarvik provides one of the most spectacular backdrops for camping one can expect as well as a variety of hiking opportunities. The campground provides a base to start a trek to the glaciers and mountains that take between two and five days to reach. There are short hiking and trekking options nearby as well.
After hiking through Katannilik, exploring Kimmirut or canoeing the Soper Heritage River, Taqaisqsirvik offers a lovely place to camp and reflect on the amazing sights experienced. The newly developed site includes outhouse facilities, tent pads and fire pits.
Easily accessible from Resolute Bay, this park includes outhouse facilities, tent pads and fire pits. Resolute Bay offers unique hikes, including among fossils on an seabed dating back 400 million years.
What could give you bigger bragging rights than saying you camped at the Geographic Centre of Canada! The Inuujaarvik Territorial Campground is located in Baker Lake and an ideal resting place for paddlers on the Thelon or Kazan Heritage Rivers.
Other special places
- Akimiski Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
- Akpait (Reid Bay) National Wildlife Area
- Boatswain Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary
- Bowman Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
- Bylot Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
- Dewey Soper Migratory Bird Sanctuary
- East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary
- Hannah Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary
- Harry Gibbons Migratory Bird Sanctuary
- McConnell River Migratory Bird Sanctuary
- Niginganiq (Isabella Bay) National Wildlife Area
- Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area
- Polar Bear Pass National Wildlife Area
- Prince Leopold Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
- Qaqulluit (Cape Searle) National Wildlife Area
- Queen Maud Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary
- Seymour Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
- Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary
Your adventure starts now
What's on your travel bucket list? Experience the rare and unique arctic wildlife. Take a ride on a dog sled across ancient Inuit hunting trails. Witness centuries-old traditions in modern time. All of this is possible in Nunavut.