Quttinirpaaq National Park of Canada
How to Get There
Arctic seasons and your trip
A Note About Time & Place
Resolute Bay, Nunavut, is the launching point for trips into Quttinirpaaq National Park.
To Get to Resolute Bay:
© Parks Canada
First Air Ltd. flies to Resolute Bay from Ottawa, via Iqaluit.
To Get to Quttinirpaaq National Park:
From Resolute Bay, you must charter an aircraft to get to the park. It is a four-hour flight by Twin Otter to the park from Resolute Bay. A Twin Otter aircraft charter to Tanquary Fiord or Lake Hazen, is approximately $15,000 one-way. However, you will need two flights, one to go to the park and another to come out for a total cost of around $30,000! A Twin Otter is capable of carrying a load of from 1000 - 1200 kg, which is equal to the weight of eight to ten people with gear. You should try to co-ordinate your trip to the park with other travellers, to reduce your charter costs.
Kenn Borek Air provides charter services to and from the park and has a base in Resolute Bay. Charter companies are very busy during the summer, so make your travel arrangements well in advance.
To Get to Grise Fiord:
© Christian Kimber / Parks Canada
You may wish to make a side trip to the picturesque community of Grise Fiord (Ausuittuq - "the place that never melts"), Canada's most northerly community with a population of 148. It is about 360 km northeast of Resolute Bay on the southern shore of Ellesmere Island. Arrangements for accommodations and outfitting services can be made through the Grise Fiord Inuit Co-operative at (867) 980-9135. Kenn Borek Air provides air service between Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord.
A recent innovation in High Arctic tourism has been the advent of icebreaking cruise ships. Among other destinations, the cruise ships sometimes stop for a brief visit to Quttinirpaaq. Contact the Parks Canada office in Iqaluit for details.
Please remember that weather conditions in the north may dictate your travel schedule. Be flexible enough to allow for lengthy delays in your plans.
Arctic seasons and your trip
The high arctic is characterized by extremes in both weather and seasons. Winters in Quttirnipaaq are very cold, with some of the lowest temperatures recorded in Canada. The transition between 24 hours of daylight and 24 hours of dark is quick and dramatic. There are 24 hours of daylight from May to August and 24 hours of darkness from November to February.
Summers are very short. In the Lake Hazen area of the park, summer temperatures can be surprisingly warm but travellers should be prepared for cool temperatures and winter conditions at any time.
The best time to visit the park is from late May to mid August.
A Note About Time & Place
During the brief arctic summer on Quttinirpaaq, the sun remains high in the sky bathing the land in continuous daylight. There is no darkness to mark the passage of time telling you when to sleep and when to wake. There are no trees to remind you of lands further south. The scale of the land is both immense and intimate at the same time. Intricate patterns of rock, frost-cracked ground, willows and wildflowers at your feet extend out from where you stand into endless vistas in the clear, dry air. Glaciers on a mountainside 15 km away seem to be details in a landscape within reach.
Animals in the park appear innocent in their lack of fear of people. Long-tailed jaegers may hover in front of you while caribou may approach you closely, curious of your presence.
The signs of men and women that came before you are still clearly evident even though some are 4,000 years old. A stone fox trap, a tent ring (a circle of boulders marking a campsite), and scattered remains of the equipment of North Pole exploration parties all speak of the courage and the adventurous spirit of those who first came to this solitude at the top of the world.
For thousands of years the ancestors of the Inuit traveled in this place. They knew that their survival depended on their obedience to the dictates of the land and its weather. If the wind blew and the temperature plummeted, they stopped and found shelter, continuing when the land became kinder again. Inuit travelers to this day let the weather, the seasons, and the rhythms of the land set their travel schedules.
This is a harsh land. Travelers may find that their personal itineraries are in conflict with the schedule dictated by wind, cold, and storm. Wise northern travelers will learn from Inuit and adjust their travel to the natural rhythms of the land they are visiting.
These travelers will leave time in their itineraries in case they need to sit for days in a tent waiting for winds to abate. They will have extra food, and reserves of patience. They will plan an extra day or three in their trips in case storms and poor visibility prevent connecting aircraft from flying. They understand the unpredictable nature of Arctic weather, and even revel in the chance to let nature set their schedule instead of a clock.
Most of all, wise northern travelers take the unparalleled opportunity to experience the life of a small northern community. They consider the extra time they have allowed for their northern adventure to be not only a safety buffer, but an essential and exciting part of their northern experience.
If you come north with an inflexible schedule, you run the risk of remembering your once-in-a-lifetime trip only for its frustrations. But come prepared to accept the Arctic on its own terms, and it will open its heart to you.