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Horton River Canoe Tour in the Northwest Territories

| CA-NRA1301

A Unique Canoe Ride on a remote Arctic River in the Canadian Tundra


Marvel at the wonderful wildlife of the Arctic tundra on this two-week canoeing adventure in the unspoiled Northwest Territories.


  • Smoking Hills
  • Franklin Bay
  • Inuvik
  • 11 days of canoeing in Arctic wilderness
  • 11 overnights in tent
  • Arctic Ocean

Horton River is one of the most remote waterways in North America. Our 13-day canoeing tour runs through the stunning, endless, barren lands of the Canadian tundra all the way through to the Arctic Ocean.

Glimpse shaggy muskoxen and graceful caribou on the banks of the Franklin Bay, home to legendary Smoking Hills. Come face to face with the geothermal power of nature just like the first European explorers hundreds of years ago.

Our experienced canoe guides will take you through this unforgettable adventure and share the rich history of the indigenous peoples who’ve lived here for thousands of years. If you’re looking for adventure and history in spellbinding natural beauty, then this once-in-a-lifetime tour is perfect for you!

Availability July
Duration 13 days
Departs From Inuvik, NT
Difficulty Moderate
Minimum age 6 years
Group maximum 12 people
Meet on Location No
Pick Up Yes


9 979
  • Expert Guides
  • Small Group Experience
  • Fast & secure payment
  • Best Price Guarantee
  • International number: +1 778 348 1676

Availability (2024): July 8-22
Plus $150 for land use fee.

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What's Included


  • Charter Flights
  • Canoeing equipment
  • Tents
  • Meals while on the river

What to bring

  • Warm and waterproof clothing
  • Hiking boots

Not Included

  • Land use fee
  • Hotel meals and accommodation in Inuvik
  • Flights between Yellowknife and Inuvik can be added to the package for an additional cost at a discounted rate

Contact us for more Information about this tour


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Find out more details about the tour and its highlights


couple canoeing in horton river in canada

Our 13-day Horton River canoeing tour is a wilderness enthusiasts’ dream. Paddle along the dramatic Arctic River, in one of the most remote areas in North America. The closest community lives in Paulatuk, which is about 62 mi (100 km) away from the river.

Come face to face with this wild Arctic Eden. The Horton River runs through vast expanses of tundra and is a sanctuary for caribou, muskoxen, grizzly bears, wolf packs, marten, foxes, and various rodents. Birdwatchers should look to the skies for an abundance of falcons, black brant, and hawks. Anglers will find Arctic grayling, lake trout, and even char spawning in the water.

The tour starts at the Horton Lake and takes you through 130 mi (210 km) of the unspoiled Canadian wilderness. The Horton River has clear, swift-flowing waters that are generally easy to navigate, so less-experienced paddlers, with Class II skills or higher, are welcome.

We’ll be camping in tents by the river and preparing our own meals at the campfire.

On the evening before our journey begins, we will meet at the Arctic Chalet Hotel at 8 pm for the pre-trip briefing.

We’ll gather at the hotel lobby in the morning, and make our way to the charter flight. The plane, known as the Twin Otter, will take us over the picturesque parts of the unique tundra ecosystem.

Once we land near the Horton Lake, we’ll build a camp and assemble the canoes. Our campsite is conveniently located around hiking routes that allow you to gaze across the majestic canyons of the Horton River.

arctic fox closeup in canada

We embark on the river, and Horton’s broad valley stretches out before us. Trees appear only at the very bottom of the valley and along the incoming tributaries. You are now truly immersed in the barren lands. Your guides will share their knowledge of the region and its complex ecosystem.

This area is home to diverse wildlife, including Arctic foxes, wolves, muskoxen and caribou. You might spot them along the river banks and surrounding hillsides.

For the next two days, you’ll spend these days exploring the river and its surroundings. The tundra provides ideal conditions for hiking with no trees to obstruct the glorious and never-ending horizon.

Over a century ago, the Horton River was significantly longer than it is now. Erosion now means that the river flows almost directly into the ocean and doesn’t have the delta-like maze that most Arctic rivers are known for.

The Horton River is a sanctuary for many wild animals. Active wolf dens have been spotted around the river. Look up and you may catch sight of the golden eagle or gyrfalcon soaring high above our heads.

aerial views on canadian tundra landscape

We’ll spend three days paddling through the river, with amazing views of the rolling tundra. One day will be dedicated to hiking and resting.

Be sure to dress accordingly, as the route is known for its chilly ocean winds!

The area is a wildlife haven, hosting majestic grizzly bears, muskoxen and caribou. Every year, a massive caribou herd migrates north crossing the hills between the Horton and Franklin Bay. The migration timing varies between years, but it is very likely that caribou will be seen on this trip.

Approaching the coast, the river slows down and reveals stunning views of the Smoking Hills.

Some of the first European explorers in the area saw smoke rising from these hills and believed that it was a campfire. However, they soon realized that they were mistaken, the thick smoke was actually rising from the ground itself.

The Smoking Hill itself gets its name from the strata of oil shales that have been burning for centuries. We’ll hike around and explore this one-of-a-kind area — hearing stories about how these intrepid explorers managed to survive in this harsh wilderness.

The Horton River is an old river, which is evident from many meanders and braided channels as we paddle through the final twists and turns of our expedition.

We’ll build a camp and go on a short hike to the ocean. The coast of the Arctic Ocean is less than two miles (3 km) away! We’ll hike through the trails surrounded by shrubby tundra vegetation, such as dwarf birch, alder, Labrador tea, grasses, moss and lichen.

Arctic wolves, foxes, and musk oxen live in the area. Keep looking around for caribou, as they can be spotted anywhere!

hiker in franklin bay in northern territories

We’ll hike around and explore Franklin Bay, named after one of the first Arctic explorers Sir John Franklin. The large bay might be covered in ice, even in the summer months, as it’s underlain by thick, continuous permafrost, common in the tundra on the Arctic Coast.

The Arctic Ocean, also called the Arctic Sea, is the smallest and the shallowest ocean in the world. However, it shelters more fish species than any other ocean! Most of the Arctic Ocean is covered in ice in the cold months. Look closely into the waves, as you might spot playful Beluga whales or walruses!

A charter plane will take us back to Inuvik.

Refreshed and rested, we might meet up for a group dinner to reminisce about our incredible 13-day adventure.

Hotel meals and accommodation in Inuvik are not included in the tour fee.

Take your time to explore the charming town of Inuvik and enjoy views of the picturesque Mackenzie River. We recommend that you book your departure flight out of Inuvik for today (not included).

Pickup information

We’ll meet at 8 am in the Arctic Chalet B&B in Inuvik, so please arrive at the hotel the night before.


Practical information

We’ll send out a list with all the things that you’ll need to bring for the tour after the booking confirmation.


Please note

5% GST and $150 CAD land use fee are not included in the tour price.

Hotel costs and meals while in Inuvik are not included in the trip fee.

Payment Details

Deposit and Taxes
Pricing does not include: 5.00% GST.
A 30% deposit is required to hold your reservation.
Balance of payment is due 90 days before trip commencement.

Your deposit is refundable less a $100 administration fee until 90 days prior to your trip departure date - then your final payment will be due, and all deposits become non-refundable. Trip Cancellation & Medical Evacuation Insurance is available, and highly recommended. Insurance is refundable until the 90 day non-refundable period.