Paddle the Land of the Pingos

Take the only road to the Arctic Ocean. Stop along the way to marvel at ice-cored hills that once served as lookouts for Inuvialuit people travelling the land.

Easily visible from Tuktoyaktuk and the Inuvik - Tuktoyaktuk Highway, the pingos are distinctive hills that you can experience in the following ways:

  • Savour the panoramic view of the pingos from the roadside pullout approximately 5 kms west of Tuktoyaktuk on the Inuvik – Tuktoyaktuk Highway to get a view of the pingos, jutting out from the flat, tundra landscape.
  • Access the pingo viewing boardwalk by water
    • Take a guided tour with a local outfitter, listening to stories of traditional connections and uses of these distinctive ice-cored structures
    • Bring your canoe/kayak or rent one through a local operator and launch from the beach at the Day Use Area to paddle the 30-40 minutes to the pingo viewing boardwalk.

 

Insider’s tip: Be sure to bring your binoculars – the boardwalk is a bird-viewing paradise! The region contains important habitat for nesting and migrating birds. In late spring you can see migrating geese, including Brant, lesser snow geese and greater white-fronted geese, tundra swans and loons. Ducks such as mallard, green-winged teal, king eider and long tailed duck are also common to the area. The shallow waters of the landmark’s bays and coastal areas support a variety of fish species, including Pacific herring, Arctic cisco, least cisco, burbot, broad whitefish and inconnu.

Pingo 101:

  • Established through the Inuvialuit Final Agreement in 1984, the Pingo Canadian Landmark protects eight ice-cored hills within a 16 km2 (4,053 acre) area.
  • Two of these pingos, Ibyuk (meaning “thick” in the Inuvialuktun language) and Split, are some of the largest such landforms in the world.
  • Pingos grow until they’re about 1000 years old then begin to collapse to become patterned ground in the tundra.
  • Average temperatures in the Tuktoyaktuk area range from -26 °C in February to 11 °C in July

The Inuvialuit people and their Thule ancestors have known pingos for at least seven centuries, using them as navigational landmarks (‘nakataq’) or lookouts (‘nasisaqturvik’).