Parks Canada’s Gift to the Earth

Six-fold Expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories

Protecting a Major Portion of the Nahanni Watershed

In 2009, the iconic Nahanni National Park Reserve was expanded to six times its former size, making it Canada’s third largest national park. This achievement has been called the greatest conservation gain in a generation.

Among the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Nahanni National Park Reserve has long been considered a jewel of Canada’s system of national parks. It is renowned for its wild white-water river and spectacular canyons, but until recently it encompassed only the lower reaches of the South Nahanni River, not its broader watershed or the river’s upper reaches. In 2009, this massive expansion increased the park reserve so that today over 30,000 km2 of spectacular mountain terrain, unique geological landforms and critical wildlife habitat are protected within its boundaries – almost the size of Vancouver Island.

Leadership of the Dehcho First Nations

This tremendous growth could not have happened without the strong vision and leadership of the Dehcho First Nations and their steadfast desire to protect this area of enormous significance. Together with Parks Canada, the Dehcho people have worked tirelessly to ensure that a major portion of the watershed has been conserved and managed collaboratively in ways that honour and conserve the traditional Dehcho knowledge and culture, for today and for the future.

Northern Wilderness Landscape

The huge and pristine northern landscape of the expanded park area includes a major portion of the South Nahanni River watershed as well as the Nahanni North Karst, a limestone area of global significance that includes spectacular canyons, caves, disappearing lakes and rock towers. Nahanni National Park Reserve today is home to more than 500 grizzly bears, herds of woodland caribou, Dall’s sheep, mountain goats, peregrine falcons and trumpeter swans. This spectacular protected area offers world class experiences for canoeists, kayakers, climbers and hikers from around the world to connect with a jewel of the Earth.

Nahanni National Park Reserve
‘Even when we don’t walk on the land, our spirit is walking on the land’ – Dehcho First Nations
© Parks Canada