A bucket list moment awaits those visitors who can get to southern Baffin Island, to a park with some of the highest peaks in the Canadian Shield. Auyuittuq National Park, from the Inuktitut word for “land that never melts” – also has some of the most dramatic shoreline in all of Canada. The star attraction is undoubtedly Mount Thor, the highest uninterrupted rock face on Planet Earth. Looming over the Weasel River Valley, Mount Thor reduces its visitors to mere specks on the landscape.
With a park this remote, your park fees are the least of your expenses. Getting to the high Arctic is expensive, as are the essential services of a local tour operator. This one is not for campers on a budget!
Best time to go : Early season is March to May, when snowmachines, dogsleds and skis can cross the frozen fjords. When the ice breaks up, typically June to July, both parks are inaccessible. By mid-July, the midnight sun is beaming and the ocean is ice-free. Outfitters will bring visitors in all the way to September. The October/November freeze-up once again makes the park inaccessible. Due to extreme weather conditions, Parks Canada recommends against visiting over the dark winter months.
Wheelchair friendly : No
Family friendly : Yes, but call ahead to a local tour operator to confirm
Where to eat :
Tundra campers typically bring homemade or purchased dehydrated meal packs. Only local Inuit are allowed to hunt, but not while guiding. A treat for visitors is the abundance of Arctic char, a particularly tasty fish closely related to salmon and trout.
Official Site :
Parks Canada has more visitor information and contacts for Auyuittuq National Park. Click here for more information about Great Canadian Trails 8-day hiking trip to Mont Thor.
Where to Stay :
The Angmarlik Interpretive Center located in Pangnirtung can assist with Auyuittuq outfitters and local homestays. Camping is the most typical form of accommodation. An Arctic expedition cruise ship is your most comfortable option, although visits will likely be a short, on-shore excursion.
Getting There :
Unless you have extensive Arctic wilderness experience, the services of a local outfitter, tour company or expedition cruise is essential. Great Canadian Trails offer an 8-day hiking trip to Mount Thor including guides, accommodation and meals. Adventure Canada Cruise North and One Ocean Expeditions get you into the high Arctic with Baffin Island expedition cruises. For local dogsledding, boating or kayaking outfitters, contact Parks Canada’s offices in Auyuittuq.
Note from Robin :
Artist Cory Trapenier’s Into the Arctic is an outstanding documentary about his adventures to Auyuittuq and other remote Canadian Arctic parks.
Prepare to enter one of the most awe-inspiring places on Earth; into a landscape named after the ancient kingdom of the powerful Norse gods. Among the dramatic granite towers carved in bedrock by glaciers, stand Odin, Asgard, Overlord, and the second tallest rock face on earth, Thor Peak. This is Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island, an 'end-of-the-earth' destination sought out by climbers and intrepid hikers from around the world. From the territorial capital of Iqaluit, we fly farther north to Pangnirtung, the southern gateway to the 97-kilometre Akshayuk Pass; a traditional Inuit travel corridor that cuts through the national park from north to south and provides access to its iconic peaks. After a two-day hike, crossing the Arctic Circle, surrounded by barren plateaus, we will set up base camp. From here, unburdened by heavy packs, we make our way to one of the most spectacular lookouts in the park where we take in majestic views of Thor and his otherworldly companions. On our way, we have the opportunity to see impressive rock formations dating back to the last ice age, moraines, boulder fields, and much more. During the five-day trek, we tread over terrain ranging from arid gravel to fertile, humid tundra with a backdrop of jagged mountains and the Penny Ice Cap's valley glaciers. The trek is book-ended by two scenic boat rides: The one-hour ride into Pangnirtung Fiord to access the park; and a post-trek adventure to Kekerten Island Territorial Park where an Inuit guide will show you around the island's old whaling station and its carefully-preserved artifacts from the late 19th century. This guided tour will take you through a part of history that is kept alive by a just a few elders in the nearby community.
The trip includes:
• Certified, bilingual guide with Advance Wilderness First Aid
• 5 nights wilderness camping
• 2 nights twin share/double accommodation
• 6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners
• National Park fees and permits
• All camping and activity-specific group equipment including tents/shelters, and cooking gear
• Emergency communications & group first aid kit
• Reservation services for group flights from Ottawa or Montreal to Iqaluit and Pangnirtung
• Ground transportation to/from Iqaluit Airport
• Boat charter between Pang, Auyuittuq NP, and Kekerten (Return)
Click here for more information about prices and departures from Great Canadian Trails. Don't forget to mention The Great Canadian Bucket List!
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