5 Key Facts Know About Aulavik National Park

Aulavik National Park is a breathtaking wilderness in Canada’s far north area. It was established in 1992, and it covers over 12,000 square kilometers of pristine Artic tundra, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the rolling hills of the British Mountains.

The park is home to a different variety of wildlife, including caribou, muskoxen, Artic wolves, and many species of birds. Most visitors to the park explore its wide area by hiking, camping, and canoeing while taking in the spectacular view and learning about the unique culture and history of the local people.

Overall this national park is a must-see destination for anyone interested in exploring the wild north area. It is truly a unique and unforgettable experience due to its remote, far-away location, stunning natural scenery, and rich history and culture.

1. History of Aulavik National Park

There were a few pre-Dorset culture residents in Aulavik National Park before the Thule culture arrived on southern Banks Island. Banks Island was probably desolate until Inuvialuit arrived in the seventeenth century due to the cold temperature and increasing ice.

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

Kuptana Archaeological Site

The copper Inuit of Victoria Island traveled to the Mercy Bay region to collect all things left behind by the McClure’s group. In the same region, they also hunted caribou and muskox, as shown by the great number of food caches.

Due to the abundance of foxes, the location had popularity among the Inuvialuit in the 20th century. One of the biggest sources of income for inhabitants from the Mackenzie Delta and the Alaskan North Slope was fox trapping and then after a few years, the fur trade began to collapse. The single settlement on the island, Sachs Harbor, was founded as a result of this reason only.

2. Environment

The Artic Lowlands, the island’s northernmost point, is protected by the park. A very thin vegetation highland plateau rises to a height of 450 meters or 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 lives in the park, it is considered home to the biggest number of muskoxen on Earth. It is also home to the critically endangered Peary caribou as well as more typical barren-ground caribou. Around 43 species of birds utilize the region seasonally in which ptarmigans as well as ravens are considered the sole year-round species in the park.

Arctic foxes, brown and northern collared lemmings, Artic hares, and wolves roam around the rocky ground in this entirely treeless park. There are many marine creatures as well as birds that can also be seen around the north coast of the park. 

Image by Roxanne Latulippe from Pixabay

The artic desert-like Aulavik Park frequently sees strong winds. Around 300mm or 12 in of precipitation falls yearly on the park.

3. Accessibility

The park can be accessed by chartered aircraft but only briefly in summers. Booking an aircraft is the most suggested method to see the park. The park has four landing areas to reduce any inconvenience that might occur.

Inuvik offers aircraft charter services in the Northwest Territories on the continent which is 750 kilometers southwest of the southern reserve boundary.

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

4. Attractions Nearby

Other than being a major attraction itself Aulavik National Park has 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 where visitors can explore the unique culture and way of life of the local Inuvialuit people, as well as take in the stunning beauty of the Arctic Ocean.

Image by brigachtal from Pixabay

The Richardson Mountains, the Mackenzie River Delta, and the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway, which is one of the most wonderful drives in the world are some of the other nearby attractions.

5. Things to do in Aulavik National Park

With a wide range of activities for the visitors to explore and experience, Aulavik National Park is a nature’s paradise. Arctic wolves, muskoxen, caribou along with several animal species, marine fauna and birds reside at the park. Tourists can also hike around, canoe down, and camp in remote areas.

Additionally, cultural experiences and the opportunity to learn about the history and traditions of the Inuvialuit people are also available. With its breathtaking scenery and rugged terrain, Aulavik National Park is an ideal destination for anyone wanting more adventure and connection with nature.

5.1. Paddling on the Thomsen River

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

The Thomsen River valley is the park’s greatest part and is a heaven for a diverse array of animals. It normally begins at the headwater lakes, the southern edge of the park, or Green’s cabin, and they usually end at the Muskox River or Castel Bay.

Image by Hong Zhang from Pixabay

Depending on your decided route and distance, the journey mostly spans two to three weeks. This provides a great opportunity to take benefit of the trek along the river and a few days with severe and strong weather. The river usually gets frozen in mid-June and by early August, the lower portions might be too shallow for a canoe to float hance late June to July is the ideal time to Kayak in the Thomsen with the best possible weather condition.

5.2. Camping

The camp doesn’t support any designated official campsites but everywhere is a good place to set up camp except for historical monuments. There are several breathtaking locations to choose from where you are thinking about hiking or canoeing or both.

Everyone is recommended to not use trace camping to preserve the unspoiled nature of the park. You must take your waste with you. At the Aulavik National Park, the winds may be very strong so a sturdy tent is advised for a relaxing trip to ensure safety and security. There are no campfires restriction at the park and everyone is supposed to use a camp stove and fuel from a bottle.

5.3. Hiking

The topography of the Aulavik National Park is mild enough to allow trekking almost everywhere though there is a lack of established routes or trails. Late June to mid-August is the most suitable time for hikers to go on their excursions.

As during this time, the temperature is at its hottest, with nature at its bloom and there is non-stop daylight. Archeological and historical sites that showcase the region’s unique past are also accessible to tourists and hikers. Using appropriate maps, one can do comprehensive research on their hiking paths beforehand and then enjoy their trip.

5.4. Fishing

A current fishing permit is necessary for all visitors to the national park. A fishing license issued by the Northwest Territories government is not accepted in the Aulavik National Park. One can purchase their legal fishing licenses from the Parks Canada offices in Inuivik and Sachs Harbor on a yearly or daily basis. The year-round license is good for a whole year at the park where it is purchased.

Photo by Sticker Mule on Unsplash

Fishery resources are not currently updated but it is believed that the fish population is mostly poor in this cold arctic climate. There are several limitations and rules for the daily capture and possession limit, which are different for different species.

5.5. Food and drinks

As Aulavik National Park is situated in a very remote and wild area, it doesn’t offer any restaurants or cafes. Visitors are responsible for bringing their own food and drinks as the park does not provide any cooking facilities or equipment either. Also, all the garbage must be packed out with you to maintain a clean environment of the Park.

Things to do at the Aulavik National Park


In conclusion, Aulavik National Park is a true wilderness area in Canada’s Arctic region. Its vast and rugged terrain, diversified wildlife, spectacular view, and rich cultural history make it a must-see destination for all nature lovers, and adventures.

While the park’s remote location and harsh climate are not everyone’s cup of tea, visitors do get to see the most breathtaking scenery and have unforgettable experiences. From hiking to camping to canoeing, there are different ways to explore the place and connect with mother nature.

Furthermore, Aulavik is not only a natural wonder but also an important historical and cultural site. Visitors get to learn about the traditions and history of the local people who have lived here for centuries and gain a deeper understanding of the human connection to the land.

Overall, Aulavik National Park is a true example of Canda’s northern beauty and resilience. Whether you are seeking adventure, escape or cultural connection, it is the best option available 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.