Náts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve

With a breathtaking landscape, abundant flora and fauna, and rich cultural traditions, the Náts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve (/ˈnætsiːtʃoʊ/ NATS-ee-choh) in Canada promises an unforgettable experience. Located in the vast expanses of the Northwest Territories, this park captures the true essence of Canada’s mighty and remote wilderness. Come and explore its unique biodiversity, appreciate its Indigenous heritage, and indulge in thrilling outdoor activities.

Introduction to Náts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve

Náts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve

History and Creation

The Náts’ihch’oh National Park was established on December 18, 2014, following the approval of legislation under the Canadian National Parks Act. Previously, on February 26, 2003, the Canadian government announced the dedication of approximately 7,600 km² for the creation of the park. The official announcement was made on April 7, 2008, by the federal Minister of the Environment, John Baird. During that time, negotiations and agreements were made with the Dene and Métis Sahtu Indigenous communities to establish the park’s impact and benefit plan.

Location and Geography

Situated in the northwest corner of Canada’s Northwest Territories, at coordinates 62°22’30.36″ N, 127°57’28.8″ W, the park spans an area of 4,850 km², characterized by mighty mountains, winding rivers, and dense boreal forests. It encompasses parts of the South Nahanni River basin and the Northwest Territories.

Meaning of the Name Náts’ihch’oh

The name Náts’ihch’oh comes from the Dene language and means ‘sitting arrowhead‘, a reference to the distinctive shape of the Náts’ihch’oh mountain.

Natural Features

Ecology and Biodiversity

The Náts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve is home to an astonishing biodiversity, with numerous species of plants and animals. The predominant ecosystems include the boreal forest and the Arctic tundra, each hosting a unique range of species adapted to these harsh conditions.

Geology and Landscape Features

This park boasts a landscape of rugged mountains, meandering rivers, vast valleys, and deep canyons. Geologic features include the impressive Náts’ihch’oh Mountain, diverse rock formations, and abundant mineral resources.


The climate in the park is typically subarctic, with long, cold winters and short, mild summers. Conditions can vary drastically, so visitors are advised to be prepared for all eventualities.
Temperatures in Náts’ihch’oh are characterized by their northern latitudes and high elevations. Most of the park lies in the subarctic zone, with cold winters and short, warm summers. Temperatures can vary greatly between the warmest and coldest days of the year. In the northernmost areas of the park, a tundra climate is experienced, with maximum temperatures not exceeding 10°C in summer.

Climate change projects a temperature increase in alpine and northern regions, while precipitation patterns may become more erratic. These warmer conditions allow species adapted to higher temperatures to move toward habitats located further north and at higher altitudes. However, those animals and plants unable to adapt quickly are threatened by the decline of suitable habitats.

Parks Canada monitors long-term changes in ecosystems, especially at the forest boundary, where shifts in species distribution are expected to occur. Additionally, water temperatures in rivers and streams are recorded, and the extent of ice and duration of lake freezing are documented each year. This provides valuable information about the park’s climate impact on its ecosystems.

Flora and Fauna

Endemic Species

The park harbors several endemic species, including various plants and animals found only in this region of the world, making it a place of great conservation significance. Some of the present endemic species include the boreal moss (Aulacomnium spp.), the Náts’ihch’oh violet (Viola náts’ihch’ohensis), and the mountain beetle (Cryphalus náts’ihch’ohensis). Each of these species plays a crucial role in the ecosystem’s balance and contributes to the park’s uniqueness and beauty. Exploring and protecting these endemic species is one of the reasons why Náts’ihch’oh is a destination of scientific and natural importance.


Among the animals that can be observed are the grizzly bear, wolf, mountain caribou, moose, and numerous species of birds and fish.

Vegetation and Plant Species

The predominant vegetation consists of boreal forests and tundra, with diverse species of conifers, as well as mosses and lichens thriving in the tundra.

Activities and Attractions

Hiking Trails

The park offers several hiking trails that vary in difficulty, allowing visitors to explore its stunning landscapes:

  1. Náts’ihch’oh Mountain Trail: This challenging route takes hikers through steep slopes and rocky terrain to the top of the mighty Náts’ihch’oh Mountain. From the summit, panoramic views of the surrounding valleys, rivers, and peaks await, providing an unforgettable experience for hiking and photography enthusiasts.
  2. Moose Lake Trail: This moderate hiking trail winds through the beautiful surroundings of Moose Lake. Hikers can enjoy serene landscapes while walking along the lake’s shore, surrounded by lush vegetation and the possibility of spotting wildlife. The trail offers opportunities to relax, have a picnic, and immerse oneself in the tranquility of nature.

These hiking trails are just a few of the options available in Náts’ihch’oh National Park. Each one offers a unique experience and an opportunity to immerse oneself in the natural beauty of this incredible environment. It’s essential to be prepared with the appropriate equipment and follow the park’s guidelines to enjoy a safe and rewarding experience on these trails.

Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife viewing is a popular activity, with opportunities to spot grizzly bears, wolves, mountain caribou, moose, and numerous species of birds and fish.

Canoeing and Kayaking

The South Nahanni River is a popular destination for canoeing and kayaking, offering an exciting opportunity to experience the park’s stunning landscapes.

Nature Photography

With its breathtaking natural beauty, the park is a wonderful location for nature photography, from majestic mountain landscapes to wildlife sightings.

Education and Conservation

Scientific Research

The park serves as an important center for scientific research, where researchers study everything from geology and ecology to the effects of climate change in this unique subarctic environment.

Educational Programs

Náts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve offers various educational programs to help visitors learn more about the rich biodiversity, geology, and Indigenous culture of the region.

Conservation Measures

The park has several conservation measures in place to protect its unique flora and fauna and preserve its natural beauty for future generations. These include regulations on hunting, fishing, and plant collection.

Culture and Indigenous Heritage

Cultural Significance for Indigenous Peoples

Náts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve has a rich Indigenous heritage and remains of great importance to the Indigenous peoples of the region. The lands have been used for generations for hunting, fishing, and spiritual ceremonies.

Historical and Archaeological Sites

The park houses several historical and archaeological sites of significance, offering a glimpse into the traditions and history of the local Indigenous peoples.

Legends and Traditions

The park and its natural features hold an important place in the legends and traditions of the Indigenous peoples. For example, Náts’ihch’oh Mountain is considered a sacred place in the Dene tradition.

Planning Your Visit

How to Get There

Náts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve is remote, and access to it can be challenging, usually requiring a combination of flights and canoeing or hiking.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the park is during the summer months, from June to September, when the weather conditions are more favorable, and all areas of the park are accessible.

Rules and Regulations

It’s important for visitors to familiarize themselves with the park’s rules and regulations, including restrictions on hunting, fishing, and plant collection.

Services and Amenities

Due to its remote location, services and amenities within the park are limited. Visitors should be prepared for a wilderness camping experience.

Health and Safety

Safety Tips

  • Follow the park staff’s instructions and respect the signage.
  • Be prepared for changing weather conditions and remote views. Bring appropriate clothing, food, and water.
  • Stay alert for the presence of wildlife and maintain a safe distance.
  • Avoid traveling alone and inform someone about your itinerary and estimated time of return.
  • Respect fire regulations and do not light fires outside designated areas.

Health Recommendations

  • Consult a doctor before your visit and ensure you have all necessary vaccines and medications.
  • Carry a first aid kit and adequate sun protection.
  • Drink clean and safe water to avoid dehydration.
  • Avoid contact with untreated water and use insect repellent to prevent bites.

Environmental Impact and Park Etiquette

  • Leave no trash or traces of your visit. Carry out all your waste.
  • Respect the flora and fauna, do not disturb or feed the animals.
  • Do not collect plants, rocks, or other natural elements.
  • Follow established fishing and hunting regulations and obtain the necessary permits.
  • Stay on designated trails and avoid stepping on sensitive or fragile areas.
  • By following these recommendations, we ensure the safety of visitors, the care of health, and the protection of the natural environment of Náts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve.

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