Ivvavik National Park of Canada
Raft on shore© Parks Canada
At the heart of Ivvavik National Park lies the Firth River, a world class whitewater river of exceptional beauty and diversity. The headwaters of the Firth are located in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, but the river is not navigable until Margaret Lake in Ivvavik. From there, the river descends for 130 kilometres, joining the Arctic Ocean at Nunaluk Spit.
The Firth River is a remote Class IV wilderness river with cold water (4-7 °C), strong eddy lines, 45 kilometres of canyon and limited rescue assistance. Private groups must be experienced Class IV rafters or kayakers, strong wilderness travellers, and be able to deal with emergencies and self rescue in a remote arctic setting.
Man in kayak© Parks Canada
There are numerous Class III and Class IV rapids along the river. Flash flooding is always a potential hazard after heavy rains or rapid snowmelt, as a consequence of the permafrost preventing drainage of water into the soil. Please see the Hazards page for more information.
If you are concerned about your ability to complete such a trip, there are a number of licensed outfitters offering guided rafting trips down the Firth River.
See below for list of outfitters.
When to visit
Ice break-up on the Firth River takes place between late May and early June. The best time to paddle the Firth River is from the second week of June until the second week of August. Between late June and early July, visitors may see herds of Porcupine caribou travelling from their calving grounds on the coastal plains. In July, when wildflowers carpet the landscape, the tundra is alive with colour. In early August angling enthusiasts can experience the excitement of landing a Dolly Varden char. No matter what time you visit, the wildlife viewing, bird watching and photography opportunities are always extraordinary.
For more information contact the Park Office in Inuvik for a copy of the Firth River Guide.
Two rafts on the Firth River
© Parks Canada
Canadian River Expeditions & Nahanni River Adventures
Eco-River Expeditions from Alaska to Nunavut
P.O. Box 31203
Whitehorse, Yukon (YT)
Toll free: 1-800-297-6927
The Explorers League
World and Wilderness Rafting Expeditions, Ltd.
PO Box 93557 Nelson Park
Vancouver, British Columbia