A version of this post first appeared on the Spectacular Northwest Territories website.
Proceed with caution. While the Northwest Territories is basically the best place on Earth, you don’t want to mess up you holiday by making a few silly mistakes. Do your homework and review these 19 warnings, to make sure you have an incredible time.
1. Don’t brag about your hipster beard in front of this guy
Tired of bland, beige personalities? People in the Northwest Territories are brimming with frontier character. It spills out from their beards, big grins, twinkling eyes and mighty handshakes. C'mon up and put some colour in your life.
2. Don’t lose your balance at this spot
Virginia Falls, in Nahanni National Park, is Canada's greatest wilderness cascade. It's a furious wall of whitewater, four acres in size and 91-metres high. It'll blow your mind – but don't let it sweep you off your feet.
3. ... and don’t flip your boat here
We've got rivers of every description, from mild to wild. The Slave River Rapids, pictured here, boast house-high waves, luring skilled kayakers from all over the world. Other famous rivers – like the Thomsen, the northernmost navigable watercourse on Earth – are flat and placid, perfect for gawking at wildlife and scenery as you drift along.
4. Don’t challenge this sled dog to a staring contest
Also, don't challenge him to a race, because he'll leave you in his dust. Huskies are everywhere up here, tugging at their towlines, raring to go. Sign up for a dog-sled adventure and you'll have a wild time with the huskies as they tour you around the North, travelling the old-fashioned way.
5. … or this man to a dance-off
Inuvialuit drummers. Metis jiggers. Dene tea-dancers. Northerners love to get their groove on. At community festivals and events you'll get a chance to check out their moves. And you'll probably be invited to join in on the dance floor. But be sure to limber up, 'cause whoo-boy, these folks can bust a move.
6. … or these guys to ‘King of the Mountain’
Imagine a linebacker with four-wheel-drive traction and titanium horns. That's your basic muskox. When these remarkable Northern ungulates feel threatened, they form a circle, lower their battering-ram of a head, and basically say "Bring it on!" Concussions are no fun, so don't take them up on the offer. Just stay back and take all the photos you want.
7. Please don’t get your tongue stuck to an ice road
Our frozen highways are basically the world's longest Popsicle. But trust us, you do not want to find your mouth-parts glued to a busy road. Also, please don't drill a hole in the highway to go ice-fishing.
8. Never lift with your back
A 60-pound Lake Trout is a hernia waiting to happen. Remember, lift with your legs. Better yet, bring a friend to share the load.
9. … and don’t forget your mittens
The Northwest Territories is many things, but hot it's not. If you come in winter, you'll want to bundle up. Luckily, many of our guides and outfitters can supply you with Arctic-grade outdoor gear. Or pay a visit to one of our local craftshops, where beautiful and cozy sealskin mitts, beaver hats, and moosehide parkas are available for sale.
10. Don’t go to bed early on this evening
Look, the fact is, when you visit the Northwest Territories, you're going to lose sleep. While the Northern Lights are shimmying in the sky, bed is not an option. You can sleep when you go back home.
11. … and don’t bother trying to sleep tonight
So like we were saying, sleep is not a priority here. In summer, the sun shines for weeks on end, with no night to get in the way of the fun. Fancy a round of golf at midnight? A paddle at 3 a.m.? Heck, do both, and then go fishing before breakfast.
12. Don’t try hitchhiking from here
Our all-season highways and winter ice-roads will take you to the ends of the Earth. Be sure you have a plan for getting home.
13. … or here
Ah yes, grizzlies on the Dempster Highway. You're definitely in bear country up here, but truth be told, they're not too much of a hazard. Keep a clean camp, don't slather yourself in fish-guts, and you'll almost certainly be just fine.
14. Don’t wait until now to remember to go to the bathroom
The Cirque of the Unclimables is legendary for having some of the greatest climbing routes in the world. If you're the kind of alpinist who likes this sort of thing, good for you. For those of us who are afraid of heights, though, the view is just fine from the ground.
15. … or to wonder, “Did I bring my tent?”
The great thing about the East Arm of Great Slave Lake is that it's totally isolated. No roads, no crowds – just you and the fish and the shore-cliffs. The downside is that you won't find a camping shop within about 300 kilometres. Pack accordingly.
16. Don’t forget about winter tires
Our ice roads are a great place to take a spin. Literally. So drive with caution. As long as you respect the speed limits, you'll go far.
17. Don’t stay in this water too long
Swimming in the Arctic Ocean is like a full-body ice cream headache. It'll make you feel alive. Just be sure to get out once your lips turn blue.
18. Don’t be a clean freak about your car
Don't bother spit-polishing your automobile before driving to the Northwest Territories. What with our dusty, lonesome highways, we're pretty relaxed about cleanliness up here. Heck, most of us only wash our vehicle once a year – whether it needs it or not.
19. … and for Pete’s sake, don’t wait until you’re in this spot to remember your camera
Pack plenty of camera batteries too. The Northwest Territories is the prettiest darn place on Earth.