Torngat Mountains National Park of Canada

Visitor Safety

Torngat Mountains National Park is a wilderness landscape. There are risks you need to know about. Weather, terrain and remoteness represent the greatest and most consistent hazards you will face as a visitor. Wildlife encounters are also likely. Learn more about risks associated with a park visit:

Hikers navigating with map Hikers navigating with map
© Parks Canada / Sheldon Stone

Are you prepared for a visit to Torngat Mountains National Park?

  • Are you completely self reliant and prepared to be responsible for your own safety? Your preparedness must be commensurate with the degree of difficulty of the activities you plan to undertake.
  • Are you properly provisioned and equipped, and have the level of knowledge, skill and physical fitness required for the activities you plan to undertake?
  • Are you prepared to extend your stay in the park if weather conditions change and a transport provider cannot pick you up when expected?
  • Have you sought further information and advice from appropriate park staff where you are uncertain about your level of preparedness, or about the nature of hazards and risks inherent in the activities you are planning?
  • Are you prepared to consider and act upon the advice you receive, and observe any regulations that are in place to help you stay safe?
Hikers in rocky terrain Hikers in rocky terrain
© Parks Canada / Sheldon Stone

Preparation checklist

You are responsible for your own safety. Preparation is the key to a safe and enjoyable visit. Park visitors are advised to carefully map their route, and to be very thorough in preparing their equipment and provision list. Here are some recommendations for preparing your trip. Please note that this list is not to be seen as all-inclusive.

Bear-proof containers are recommended for food caches Bear-proof containers are recommended for food caches
© Parks Canada / Sheldon Stone
  • Carry a satellite phone, and be familiar with its proper use. (There is no commercially available sale or rental of satellite phones in Nain or Kuujjuaq – there is in Goose Bay).
  • Carry effective, approved polar bear deterrents and know how to use them. Visitors are reminded of the added safety of engaging the services of an Inuit guide who is permitted to carry a firearm, where visitors are not.
  • If you plan on placing food caches within the park, contact park staff for advice on approved storage containers and locations. All locations must be recorded with the park office.
  • The choice of clothing can make or break a trip in the north. Be prepared for variable weather, and be prepared for cold and snow even in summer.
  • Ensure adequate provisions. Count on what you determine you need plus an allowance for being delayed by weather.
  • Know your game plan – let a trusted friend or family member know your plans too. Leave emergency contact numbers as part of your plan. The Nain detachment of the RCMP is 709-922-2862, and the Parks Canada office in Nain is 709-922-1290. Have a back-up plan that allows for delays due to weather.
Minarer Glacier Minarer Glacier
© Parks Canada / Angus Simpson

A safety briefing is obligatory

Before you head out on your visit of the park, we will provide a safety briefing and a general orientation about any special conditions in the park including area closures and park regulations. The briefing will cover potential hazards in the park and the risks associated with any of the activities you plan to do. A polar bear safety video is also required viewing. If you do not register in person, please contact the park for a copy of the video. Park staff can also identify areas that might be of interest to visitors.

Backpacker crossing river Backpacker crossing river
© Parks Canada / Sheldon Stone

Terrain

The terrain in the park ranges from fjord valleys, high rugged mountains, long rolling ridges, glaciers, fast-flowing rivers, waterfalls, cliffs, steep slopes, rugged coastline and areas of flat and somewhat featureless tundra and tussocks. All of these areas have their inherent hazards. Many of the risks associated with topographical hazards are heightened when combined with bad weather, including wind, snow and ice. Most risks related to topographical hazards involve either slipping/falling or becoming endangered by sliding materials such as rocks, mud, or snow. Navigation can be difficult in the labyrinth of valleys and ridges that stretch over a large area, and the risk of becoming disoriented or lost is high.

Glacierscan present a potential hazard to the inexperienced visitor. Though small by most standards, the numerous glaciers in the Torngat Mountains are still dangerous. Crevasses, moats, and potential avalanche or rock fall events can injure or kill you.

Hiker dressed for cold weather Hiker dressed for cold weather
© Parks Canada / Sheldon Stone

Hypothermia

Hypothermia as well as frostbite are possible risks in the park area throughout the year. Hypothermia is the extreme loss of body heat. Body core temperature drops, which can result in unconsciousness and death. Hypothermia is caused by cold, but it is aggravated by wet, wind, and exhaustion. Kayakers are particularly susceptible. To prevent hypothermia, wear a warm hat in cool, damp or windy weather; dress in layers, take frequent rest stops; and eat frequent, nutritional snacks and drinks. Pay attention to your body. Remember, there is no natural protection in the open tundra.

Polar bear Polar bear
© Parks Canada / Heiko Wittenborn

Wildlife encounters

Wildlife can be dangerous under certain conditions. You will probably encounter polar bears, and black bears, and may see fox, wolves, and muskoxen . When you register to enter Torngat Mountains, we will show you a safety video about polar bears, or we can mail it to you if you register through another means. We will also provide a copy of Parks Canada’s Safety in Polar Bear Country pamphlet.

Polar bears are true carnivores and can be a significant risk to human beings. Visitors travelling and camping in the park are in polar bear country and are at high risk of encounters. Polar bears are almost always present along the north Labrador coast. In the winter and spring they drift south on the pack ice and roam the floe edge hunting for seals. As the ice breaks up they head to shore and begin to work their way north again. In recent years Inuit have seen an increase in the number of polar bears within the boundaries of the park, especially along the coast. Some polar bears have been seen far inland and at high elevations. Historic satellite collar data indicate that bears will cross the Ungava Peninsula by travelling west through the southern part of the park. So even though polar bears are generally found along the coast, you should remain vigilant, even when far inland.

Black Bear Black Bear
© Parks Canada / Sheldon Stone

Black bears are most common in the inland southern portions of the park, and are especially abundant along the more vegetated valley bottoms and mountain slopes. The black bear population in the area of the park is the only known population to live entirely above tree line. Black bears are opportunistic animals and can be aggressive towards humans under certain circumstances. Black bear sows may become defensive while protecting their cubs if you are too close or inadvertently get between the sow and her cubs.

Foxes and wolves can carry rabies, which may cause them to be uncharacteristically aggressive. You should always maintain distance from wildlife.

Muskoxen have found their way into the park from a captive herd that was released in Northern Quebec in the 1970-80’s. Muskoxen can be extremely dangerous and should not be approached. This is especially true of rutting bulls.

Protection against wildlife

Visitors should note that it is illegal to carry a firearm in the national park. You are required to be familiar with the use of polar bear deterrents, and to bring approved deterrents with you. Alternatively, you are also advised to engage the services of an Inuit guide since they may use a gun. Proper trip planning and camp management can reduce the likelihood of problems with polar bear encounters. Contact Park staff for advice on deterrents and appropriate campsite management practices.

Looking towards Cirque Mountain    �0;0;A;	from Mount Caubvick Looking towards Cirque Mountain from Mount Caubvick
© Parks Canada / Heiko Wittenborn

Help is a long way away.

You need to be aware that should an emergency arise during your trip, emergency response could take days. Factors such as the weather conditions, your location within the park, and the availability of boats, helicopters or aircraft, which are not based in Nainor Kangiqsualujjuaq, will determine the response time of any available assistance. You should be prepared and capable to deal with any emergencies that might occur including medical emergencies. Having someone in your party with advanced skills and experience in wilderness first aid and self-rescue training is strongly recommended.

Emergency numbers

In case of an emergency, assistance will be provided through the following 24 hour emergency number at Jasper Dispatch: 1-877-852-3100 or 1-780-852-3100. (NOTE: The 1-877 number may not work with satellite phones.)

Royal Canadian Mounted Police – Nain detachment: 709-922-2862

Be prepared to tell the dispatcher:

  • The name of the park
  • Your name
  • Your sat phone number
  • The nature of the incident
  • Your location - name and Lat/Long or UTM
  • The current weather – wind, precipitation, cloud cover, temperature, and visibility