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Raft or Canoe on the Coppermine River in Canada

| CA-NRA1601

Raft/Canoe Adventure on the Coppermine River in Nunavut


Immerse yourself in an ultimate adventure of a lifetime and spend 16 days rafting or canoeing on an Arctic river in the Coppermine Mountains of Nunavut, Canada!


  • Crossing the Arctic Circle
  • Great Bear Lake
  • Bloody Falls
  • Rocky Defile Rapids

Embark on an unforgettable 16-day expedition through deep ravines and rapids. Choose between an adventure on a raft or a more demanding canoe option.

Following in the footsteps of Sir John Franklin’s journey to the “Polar Sea,” this trip will take you through some of the most amazing, uncharted lands in Canada. Explore the Great Bear Lake and observe the wildlife around the Bloody Falls in Kugluk Territorial Park.

Cross the Arctic Circle and traverse an untouched wilderness on an adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

  • Trusted Tour Operator
  • Local Guides
  • Small group
  • Personal Experience
Availability Jun - Aug
Duration 16 days
Departs From Yellowknife, NT
Minimum age No limit
Group maximum 12
Difficulty Easy / Challenging Suitable for most people in fair condition.
Pick Up No
Meet on Location Yes


10 177
  • Best Price Guarantee
  • International number: +1 778 348 1676

Availability (2024):
August 2-17

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What's Included


  • Accommodation at the Great Bear Lake Lodge
  • Charter flights
  • Tent River bag
  • Day bag

What to bring

  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Hiking boots

Not Included

  • Wetsuit or drysuit rental
  • Hotel meals and accommodation in Yellowknife

Contact us for more Information about this tour


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Find out more details about the tour and its highlights


Choose between the Coppermine River canoe trip or a rafting adventure. Rafting is an easier option and suitable for beginners. Canoeing is more challenging and you’ll need Class III Whitewater experience. Overnights on this tour are in tents.

The Coppermine River is a part of the Canadian Heritage River System – a national river conservation program that recognizes and protects outstanding rivers in Canada.

During this 16-day trip, we’ll travel through two territories of Canada, cross the Arctic Circle and drift along 135 mi (215 km) of the Coppermine River. The elevation drops 900 ft (280 m) allowing us to enjoy the most extraordinary views of the Coppermine and September Mountains. We’ll also paddle past some other charming Arctic rivers along the way.

Our expedition starts at Yellowknife a town in Canada’s Northwest Territories, near the Great Slave Lake. Departing from there, we’ll take two charter flights to the Coppermine River.

The banks of the river are rich with Canadian wildlife. Spot magnificent moose, Peregrine falcons, and even a Golden eagle soaring above the tundra! Fishing enthusiasts will enjoy seeing Arctic char, lake trout, and grayling. This great rafting or canoeing experience combines exciting rapids, with some excellent hikes to explore the best sights of Franklin’s famous trip to the “Polar Sea” in the “Land of the Midnight Sun.”

We’ll meet up in the morning and take a charter plane to the north. We’ll fly over the tundra and land on the airstrip of the Great Bear Lake Lodge, from where we’ll take a float plane to the Coppermine River.

Between the flights, we’ll have a chance to explore the shores of the Great Bear Lake. Depending on the weather conditions, we’ll stay at the lodge overnight if needed.

If we take the charter flight in the morning, we’ll set up our camp by the Coppermine River as soon as we arrive.

After lunch, we’ll explore the area by hiking the surrounding hills. You’ll have a great opportunity to observe the local vegetation and wildlife.

We’ll start the day by inflating the rafts and rigging the canoes. We’ll paddle downstream and enjoy some spectacular views. This is moose country, and we keep a watch on the shore for these magnificent mammals. Tundra swans, shorebirds and ducks can be seen in this section of the Coppermine.

As we approach Big Bend, the river narrows in width and speeds up. We pass the Hook River and an old portage to Great Bear Lake. It was here that Franklin had arranged with the local First Nation people to be resupplied on his 1821 expedition down the river. The absence of these supplies created his desperate bid for survival later that fall.

Today, we’ll reach the Rocky Defile Rapids. These formidable rapids run through a canyon that stretches 1,640 ft (500 m) long and 197 ft (60 m) high! Once we come to the majestic ravine, we’ll settle in for the day and explore the area. This is the start of some of the finest Arctic Char fishing found anywhere.

canoes and a tent on a river shore in canada

Today we’ll paddle past the Kendall River. This segment of the Coppermine River has several boulder flats and islands. Locals call this area “the Splits,” and it’s renowned for its breathtaking sights of the Coppermine and September Mountains.

We’ll camp near Stoney Creek, where we sometimes find remnants of winter ice on shore.

flower field near coppermine river at summer

We’ll hike up the picturesque Coppermine Mountains and enjoy unimaginable hues of red. The area around our camp is full of eye-catching wildflowers, such as Western wood lily, Red paintbrush, and Pink wintergreen, so it’s a good day for a photo shoot!

We start a long section through the breathtaking river valley, between the terraced hillsides of the Coppermine Mountains on one side and the barren sloping banks of the September Mountains on the other. At the Melville River, the Coppermine makes its final turn northward. It is here that the river makes its greatest drop, falling 152 meters (460 feet) in 72 kilometers (50 miles) over 30 sets of rapids.

The thin cover of spruce that has been following the river finally dwindles away to be replaced by tundra vegetation. Steep cliffs and rock dominate the region making excellent breeding grounds for hawks, falcons and eagles. We drift down through Muskox and Sandstone Rapids.

We drift downstream to Escape Rapids. Here the river flows through a high winding 50 meter (150 feet) gorge. The next 16 kilometers (10 miles) to Bloody Falls takes us through both marked and unmarked rapids on a fast downriver run to the boulder fan above the falls. Bloody Falls was named for the massacre of an Inuit camp by the Indians that were guiding Samuel Hearne in 1771.

A hiking day will be spent around the falls and the portage will begin. You’ll get a chance for close-up pictures of the Golden Eagles that nest here as well as hike to a local peak for our first look at the “Polar Sea.”

Only 16 kilometers (10 miles) of the Coppermine remain until it reaches the ocean. After finishing the portage around the falls, we will complete this remaining section of the river.

We reach the town of Kugluktuk in the late afternoon and the rest of the day is yours to explore the town. In the evening we will fly back to Great Bear Lake.

We’ll spend the day and relax at Great Bear Lake Lodge, where you’ll have a chance to enjoy hot showers and comfortable facilities.  This is a free day and is used as a buffer to ensure we connect with the flight back to Yellowknife the next day.

We will depart Great Bear Lake, and the charter aircraft will return us to Yellowknife by mid-afternoon. Because of the challenges of northern bush flying, we highly recommend you plan to overnight in Yellowknife and book your flights home for Sunday morning. This will also give you some time to explore the city of Yellowknife and learn more about the natural and human history of the capital of the Northwest Territories.

The meeting point is at the Explorer Hotel lobby after breakfast.

You will receive a detailed list of what to bring to the trip and what you can rent out from us.

Please note

You should plan to arrive in Yellowknife a day before the trip begins, as we’ll have a pre-trip orientation meeting at the Explorer Hotel.

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.