The polar marine climate means long, cold winters and short, cool summers. Although summer brings almost endless daylight, direct sunlight does not hit the park for one-quarter of the year.
Winds of 15-20 km/hour are common year-round although they tend to be stronger (30-40 km/hr) from late summer to early winter, with extremes to 100 km/hour. The Penny Ice Cap, steep mountain slopes and the linear valley of Akshayuk Pass create conditions for steady winds along the hiking trail. Be prepared for blowing sand in summer and white out conditions during the snow season.
The park receives very little precipitation but late summer is the wettest time of year. Be prepared for snow anytime, anywhere in Auyuittuq! By mid-August new snow is common in the pass and above 2000 feet elevation it is permanent.
Weather ConditionsCurrent conditions for Pangnirtung.
Current conditions for Qikiqtarjuaq.
Best times to visit
The following are approximate dates and methods for accessing the park. Please note that area closures are possible at any time. You should check in advance with the park office in Pangnirtung for this year’s likeliest scenario.
Arctic seasons and your trip
March/April/early May (spring)
Fiords are frozen; travel by snowmobile, snowshoes or skis. Rivers often break up by early to mid-May, making skiing difficult.
June/mid-July (break up)
Sea-ice breaks up by early to mid-June in Pangnirtung and by mid-July in Qikiqtarjuaq. Before and during ice break-up, travel to the park is not possible with an outfitter – only on foot from Pangnirtung.
Mid-July/August/early September (summer)
The fiords are normally ice-free. Travel with an outfitter by boat. Hiking / Climbing season. River flooding can happen at any time but the peak of summer, the last week of July and the first week of August, is the period when flooding has historically been at its peak. Full closure of the pass has occurred during this period due to flooding. See river crossings in the Visitor safety section for more information.
October – February (winter)
Multi-day travel to Auyuittuq National Park is not advisable at this time. Cold temperatures, near-constant darkness and access difficulties in early winter make winter travel and camping unpleasant, dangerous and, often, impossible. Day-trips by snowmobile are an option for fair weather days.
It is physically possible to travel between the park and Pangnirtung on foot or by ski at any time of year. However, this will add many kilometres to your trip. Qikiqtarjuaq is on Broughton Island so it is not possible to hike to the park in the summer. We recommend that an outfitter be hired to transport your group between the communities and the park. To reduce your risk of encountering polar bears, we particularly recommend the use of an outfitter between Qikiqtarjuaq and the head of North Pangnirtung Fiord.