A Guide to Aulavik National Park: 5 Things to Know

Aulavik National Park
Courtesy: Parks Canada

Aulavik National Park is a breathtaking wilderness area located in the far north of Canada. Established in 1992, the park covers over 12,000 square kilometers of pristine Arctic tundra, stretching from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the rolling hills of the British Mountains.

The park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including caribou, muskoxen, Arctic wolves, and many species of birds. Most visitors to the park explore its rugged terrain by hiking, camping, and canoeing, while taking in the spectacular scenery and learning about the unique culture and history of the local Inuvialuit people.

Overall, this national park is a must-see destination for anyone interested in exploring the wilds of the far north. With its remote location, stunning natural beauty, and rich cultural history, it is a truly unique and unforgettable experience.

1. History of Aulavik National Park

There were a few pre-dorset culture residents in Aulavik National Park before the Thule culture has now arrived on southern Banks Island. Banks Island was probably desolate until the Inuvialuit arrived in the seventeenth century as a consequence of the little ice age’s cold temperature.

Castle Bay and Mercy Bay are the two largest bays of Aulavik Park, which is located in the south of the McClure Strait. In Mercy Bay, Captain Robert McClure’s crew abandoned their ship and trekked through the strait’s sea ice to reach the HMS Resolute.

.The Copper Inuit of Victoria Island travelled to the Mercy Bay region to collect goods left behind by McClure’s group. In the region, they also hunted caribou and muskox, as shown by the abundance of food caches.

Due to the abundance of foxes, the location had popularity among the Inuvialuit in the 20th century. Fox trapping was a source of income for inhabitants from the Mackenzie Delta and the Alaskan North Slope until the fur trade began to collapse. The single settlement on the island, Sachs Harbor, was founded as a result of this inflow of people.

2. Environment

At the island’s northernmost point, the Arctic Lowlands are protected by the park. A thinly vegetated highland plateau rises to a height of 450 meters (1,480 feet) above sea level in the southern parts of the park.

With an estimated 68,000 to 80,000 creatures on the island, 20% of which are believed to live in the park, it is home to the biggest number of muskoxen on Earth. Together with the more typical barren-ground caribou, it is also home to the critically endangered peary caribou. Although 43 species of birds utilize the region seasonally, ptarmigans as well as ravens are thought to be the sole year-round species in the park.

Arctic foxes, brown and northern collared lemmings, Arctic hares, and wolves traverse the rocky ground in this entirely treeless park. There are many marine creatures as well as birds that may be found along the north coast.

Image by Roxanne Latulippe from Pixabay

The arctic desert-like Aulavik  Park frequently sees strong winds. Around 300 mm (12 in) of precipitation falls on the park each year.

3. Accessibility

The park is only briefly each summer accessible by chartered aircraft. Booking an aircraft is the most practical method to see the park. There are four landing areas in the park.

750 kilometers southwest of the southern reserve boundary, in the Northwest Territories, on the continent, Inuvik, offers aircraft charter services. The Dempster Road and regular aircraft from southern Canada service Inuvik, the major town in the area.

To fully appreciate the park, visitors can either purchase a fishing permit or obtain a permission to access the park. These inexpensive licenses’ provide tourists the greatest possible experience by granting entry to several park areas.

4. Attractions Nearby

While the Aulavik National Park itself is a major attraction, there are also many other interesting sights to see in the surrounding area. One of the most notable is the town of Tuktoyaktuk, located just a short drive from the park. Here, visitors can explore the unique culture and way of life of the local Inuvialuit people, as well as take in the breathtaking scenery of the Arctic Ocean.

Image by brigachtal from Pixabay

Other nearby attractions include the Richardson Mountains, the Mackenzie River Delta, and the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway, which is one of the most spectacular drives in the world.

5. Things to do in Aulavik National Park

Aulavik National Park offers visitors a wide range of activities to explore and experience the stunning beauty of Canada’s Arctic wilderness. The park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including caribou, muskoxen, Arctic wolves, and many species of birds. Visitors can hike along well-marked trails, camp in remote wilderness areas, and canoe down winding rivers.

Additionally, cultural experiences are available, with opportunities to learn about the history and traditions of the Inuvialuit people. With its rugged terrain and breathtaking landscapes, Aulavik National Park is an ideal destination for anyone seeking adventure and a deeper connection to nature.

5.1. Paddling on the Thomsen River

The Thomsen River, one of the farthest-northern navigable streams in North America, is located at the center of Aulavik National Park. This river flows slowly as it travels 160 kilometers through the park towards the north. It can be readily navigated by canoe or kayak because there are no rapids or other obstacles.

The Thomsen River valley is the park’s greenest part and is a haven for a variety of animals. Trips down rivers normally begin at headwater lakes, the southern edge of the park, or Green’s Cabin, and they usually conclude at the Muskox River or Castel Bay.

Image by Hong Zhang from Pixabay

Depending on where you start and where you conclude, the journey spans two to three weeks. This gives ample opportunity to take benefit of the fantastic trekking all along the river corridor and a few days with severe weather. Up to mid-June, the river may be frozen over, and by early August, the lower portions might be too shallow for a canoe to float. So, late June to late July is the ideal time to kayak the Thomsen.

5.2. Camping

The park doesn’t have any designated campsites. Everywhere is a good place to set up camp, except historical monuments. There are several breathtaking locations to choose from, whether you prefer hiking or canoeing.

Please use no trace camping to preserve this unspoiled nature. You must take your waste with you. At the Aulavik National Park, the winds may be very powerful and persistent. A sturdy tent that can endure strong winds is essential for a relaxing trip. There are no campfire restrictions at Aulavik National Park. For cooking, use a camp stove and fuel from a bottle.

5.3. Hiking

The topography at Aulavik National Park is mild enough to allow trekking almost anywhere, despite the lack of established routes or trails. Late June to mid-August is when most hikers go on their excursions.

The wildflowers are in bloom, the temperature is at its hottest, and there is nonstop daylight throughout this time. Archaeological sites that showcase the region’s unique past are also accessible to hikers. Using topographic maps, you should do a comprehensive investigation of your desired hiking path.

5.4. Fishing

A current national park fishing permit is needed for all anglers in the national park. Fishing licences issued by the Northwest Territories government are not accepted in Aulavik National Park. Fishing licences for national parks may be purchased from the Parks Canada offices in Inuivik and Sachs Harbor on an annual and daily basis. The year-long fishing license is good for one year at the park where it is purchased.

Photo by Sticker Mule on Unsplash

On the fishery resources in Aulavik National Park, nothing is currently known. It is believed that fish populations are poor in this cold arctic climate. There are several limitations and rules for the daily capture and possession limit, which is one of any species.

5.5. Food and drinks

As a remote wilderness area in the northwest territories of Canada, Aulavik National Park offers no restaurants or cafes. Visitors are responsible for bringing their own food and drinks, and the park does not provide any cooking facilities or equipment. Also all garbage must be packed out with you to maintain a clean environment of the park.


In conclusion, Aulavik National Park is a true wilderness gem in Canada’s Arctic region. Its vast and rugged terrain, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural history make it a must-see destination for nature lovers, adventurers, and anyone interested in exploring the far north.

While the park’s remote location and harsh climate can present challenges, visitors are rewarded with unforgettable experiences and breathtaking scenery. From hiking to camping to canoeing, there are countless ways to explore Aulavik’s stunning landscapes and connect with the natural world.

Furthermore, Aulavik is not only a natural wonder but also an important cultural site. Visitors can learn about the traditions and history of the Inuvialuit people, who have lived in the region for thousands of years and gain a deeper appreciation for the human connection to the land.

Overall, Aulavik National Park is a true testament to the beauty and resilience of Canada’s northern wilderness. Whether you’re seeking adventure, cultural enrichment, or simply a chance to disconnect from the modern world, Aulavik is a destination that should not be missed.


I am Sanjh Solanki, a university student majoring in mathematics. I've written pieces on lifestyle and travel. I'm always looking to learn more, so discovering novel ideas and presenting them to everyone's notice fascinates me.
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