Wood Buffalo National Park straddles the boundary between the Northwest Territories and northern Alberta. This park, 44,800 square kilometers (17,300 square miles) was created in 1922 to protect the last remaining wild herd of wood bison. Happily, there are now over 4,000 wood buffalo in the park, the world's largest free roaming herd. Much of the park is a flat glacial plain know as the Alberta Plateau. The forest in this area is typical of the boreal forest zone consisting primarily of spruce, jack pine and tamarack. Moose, woodland caribou and black bears also inhabit this land. Wood Buffalo National Park has the distinction of being the only known breeding ground of the endangered whooping crane.
The Salt River trail is one of the park's better known walks. It features a 7.5 kilometer (4.6 mile) North Loop and also a 9 kilometer (5.5 mile) South Loop, through terrain having many caves, sinkholes and underground streams. Longer overnight trails can be found but trail development is still in its infancy so be prepared to use map and compass for more complete exploration of this area. The park can be reached via the Mackenzie Highway to Hay River and Highway 5 to Fort Smith which is 36 kilometers (22 miles) east of the park.
Nahanni National Park is a 4,760 square kilometer (1,840 square mile) wilderness area located in the southwest corner of the Northwest Territories. The South Nahanni River flows over 320 kilometers (200 miles) through the park from the Selwyn Mountain range to the Franklin Mountains near the southeast park boundary. A breathtaking waterfall of some 90 meters (300 feet) called Virginia Falls can be found on this river. The park is also known for its hotsprings, Sulphur Hotsprings at the lower mouth of the first canyon, Wild Mint Mineral Springs near Flat River and Rabbitkettle Hotsprings in the northwest.
Hiking in Nahanni Park is not for the faint hearted as it largely is an untracked, rugged wilderness. It is accessible only by water or air, being 145 kilometers (90 miles) west of Fort Simpson and 1045 kilometers (650 miles) northwest of Edmonton. Being completely self contained for your stay is a must but there are many rewards of exploring this unspoiled country. You may well encounter the legend of the lost gold mine guarded by headless men and the story of Albert Fraille who for more than 40 years searched in vain for the lost gold! The legend started in 1907 when the bodies of the McLeod boys were found on the Nahanni banks between the first and second canyon, now known as Dead Man's Valley. For more detailed information about the Nahanni, try Dick Turner's book published by Hancock House called NAHANNI.
Your comments are welcome at dhaaheim at telus dot netHttp://www.tourcanada.com -- Revised: May 29, 2008
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