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Western High Arctic


The silence hangs so deep that time itself seems to stand still. Stand on a ridge like thousands of others on an island like dozens of others and in all directions there is only stillness and peace. Only the wind moves.

Peary Caribou
   Peary Caribou  


This is a region of the sea - nowhere in this region of islands can you stand more than 50 kilometres from the sea. Yet despite its proximity to the water, most of this region is polar desert - a frigid, barren rock-strewn land. It is one of the driest regions in the world, receiving less than 11 centimetres of precipitation yearly. Snow may fall in any month, a dry powdery snow that blows like dust on the wind. It accumulates in ravines and valleys where it forms hardpacked drifts that have the consistency of Styrofoam.

Each island that makes up this region has its own character ranging from flat to rugged. The mountains on Melville Island, the largest, reach heights of one kilometre. In contrast, the southwest part of Bathurst Island is a remarkably flat sand and gravel plain.

The north magnetic pole is located in this region.

National Parks System Plan, 3rd Edition

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