The 4765 km² Nahanni National Park is located in the north-west of the country and extends about 300 km along the South Nahanni River. The wooded region is occupied by canyons up to 1300 m deep, thundering waterfalls and deep caves. Nahanni is a protected area for many animal species typical of the northern forests such as mountain goats, wolves, dall mouflons, grizzly bears, black bears, moose and caribou.
Nahanni National Park: facts
|Official title:||Nahanni National Park|
|Natural monument:||National park since 1972; South Nahanni River declared a Canadian Heritage River in 1987; 4765.60 km² with heights of 180 m to 2640 m in the Ragged Range; as part of the Canadian Cordilleras, the National Park includes the Hyland Plateau, Selwyn Mountains, Liard Plateau, Mackenzie Plain, and Mackenzie Mountains; a seventh of the river system of the South Nahanni, geological formations such as three canyons with a length of up to 19 km and a depth of 1300 m and the 100 m high Virginia Falls, karst landscape with underground rivers, caves and collapse funnels|
|Country:||Canada, Northwest Territories|
|Location:||Southwest of the Northwest Territories, along the South Nahanni and Flat Rivers|
|Meaning:||exceptional example of a North American white water river and protection of the flora and fauna of the Mackenzie Mountains|
|Flora and fauna:||Vegetation Forest and tundra areas with black spruce, white spruce in the higher elevations and poplars in the valleys, 600 different types of vascular plants, 325 types of moss plants; near mineral springs wild mint and goldenrod species; 40 species of mammals such as wolf, grizzly bear, black bear, caribou, elk, white-tailed deer, mountain goat, beaver and dall sheep; 170 species of birds such as golden eagles and peregrine falcons|
Hot springs in the far north
What draws Toronto visitors to Virginia Falls when the famous Niagara Falls are on their doorstep? There you have to share the view of the wild water with hundreds of visitors, you shouldn’t be bothered by the numerous souvenir shops and observation towers. According to oxfordastronomy, in Canada’s wilderness, on the other hand, solitary, almost undisturbed enjoyment of an unusual nature is possible; the only question is how much longer. Only a tiny number of visitors “get lost” in Nahanni National Park. Some fly to the waterfalls for a few hours, others rely on their own muscle strength and are out and about in a canoe or rubber dinghy.
On the slopes of the valley you can see how the “powerful river” has cut into the rock. If it is particularly resistant, he has created narrow gorges with steep walls up to 1200 meters high; hard rocks, like Pulpit Rock, narrow the river bed, forcing the river to shift its bed here and there. Narrow, jet-like passages with bubbling rapids and waterfalls bear witness to the work of the river, which is still going on today. If the Niagara Falls were to be piled on top of each other and their enormous masses of water plunged into the depths, this world-famous “thundering water” could easily compete with the Virginia Falls. Since this is just a beautiful dream, however, the unrestrainedness of the Virginia Falls against its “rival” is unsurpassed: bubbling water pelts with a roar into a valley basin; the finest clouds of spray envelop the surrounding area. Turbulent river sections alternate with calm stretches. In the widening valleys there are sandbanks with bushes and driftwood. On the flatter slopes, quite lush vegetation has spread. Wild sheep and mountain goats seem to climb lightly on rocky cliffs, and sometimes moose wade through the river. The power of the water washed out the limestone on the slopes and on the plateaus; Caves and deep caves in various shapes have emerged. Over 100 wild sheep skeletons were found in one of them. It appears as if the animals have searched their burial cave. On the flatter slopes, quite lush vegetation has spread. Wild sheep and mountain goats seem to climb lightly on rocky cliffs, and sometimes moose wade through the river. The power of the water washed out the limestone on the slopes and on the plateaus; Caves and deep caves in various shapes have emerged.
Quite unexpectedly one comes across a number of hot springs in these latitudes, which are fed by water from greater depths and testify to an earlier volcanism. Sulfur and calcium carbonates have settled in terraces around the springs and form island-like foreign bodies with special vegetation. Part of the plateaus is occupied by spruce and poplar forests. Black and grizzly bears live here, wolves and reindeer roam around, sharing the land with lightning-fast peregrine falcons, majestically circling golden eagles and trumpeter swans. The extraordinary natural landscape with its bizarre shapes, which appear even sharper in the pale light of the oblique rays of the sun, moved people’s imaginations early on. It is reported that a Kaska tribe that has disappeared today which their eastern neighbors, the Slavey’s, feared and whom they referred to as “Nah’aa”, “people who live far away”. It is not known whether there were clashes between these Indian tribes. White men did not enter the Nahanni River area until the turn of the century, when they set out to find gold on the Klondike and followed up rumors of large nuggets of gold on the Nahanni. Some of the adventurers disappeared without a trace, others were later found as “headless skeletons”. Names like “Valley of the Dead” and “Valley of the Headless” were coined; mysterious stories made the rounds. The legends, which are often told, were taken up by writers like Pierre Berton, who wrote enthusiastically about the gold rush and the nature of the north and made the Nahanni valley known.