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South Nahanni River from Moose Ponds

Camping below Nááts’ihch’oh Camping at Moose Ponds
© L. Dueck / Parks Canada

Paddle the wild headwaters of the South Nahanni River. Take a float plane to Moose Ponds and the base Nááts'ihch'oh, a powerful mountain for the Shútagot'ine (Mountain Dene). Next up? 50 km of thrilling whitewater known as the Rock Gardens.

Skill Level:

The Moose Ponds trip starts with over 50 km of Class II – IV rapids known as the Rock Gardens. Expert paddling and backcountry skills are required.

Trip Length:

Most paddlers take 18 – 23 days to paddle from Moose Ponds to Nahanni Butte. Earlier take-outs are possible at Island Lakes, Gahnîhthah Mįe or Rabbitkettle Lake, and Náilicho or Virginia Falls.

Best Time to Go:

This section of the South Nahanni River is best run mid-June through July. After August 1, you may need to line or portage sections of the Rock Gardens due to low water levels.

Busy or Off-the-Beaten Track?

Off the beaten track. Although several paddlers tackle the Moose Ponds trip each year, it is unlikely you will encounter another group.

Air Access:

The Moose Ponds are only accessible by air. Contact one of these air charter services to arrange your flight.

Hazards:

Like all rivers in the area, rain can cause water levels to rise suddenly - even if it is not raining where you are. Choose campsites accordingly, and secure your boats each night.

This is a technical whitewater trip. Pinning and wrapping boats is possible. You need to be skilled in whitewater rescue techniques. Bring your river pin kit, and know how to use it.

Registration:

Paddlers must register and de-register their trip with Parks Canada through the Nahanni National Park Reserve office.