High above the Arctic Circle, the Thomsen River is the northerly-most canoeable river in North America. Flowing north through Aulavik National Park, the Thomsen provides an Arctic oasis for wildlife. Most of the world’s population of muskoxen can be found grazing near its river banks. Many other fascinating Arctic species can also be found here, including Peary caribou, snow geese, and the snowy owl.
The Thomsen River Valley has been used by ancient Inuit cultures for thousands of years. Archaeological sites dot the landscape, and some ruins date back more then 4000 years. Rich in history and wildlife, the Thomsen River offers an Arctic experience like no other.
This river can be accessed only by air. We will land on a remote airstrip near the centre of Banks Island. Our canoe trip then starts near the headwaters of the Thomsen River. We will travel downstream using Ally folding canoes, to the mouth of the river (at McClure Straight in the Arctic Ocean). The route descends almost 200 metres in just over 160 kilometres. The paddling is easy, with gentle moving water, a few swifts, and some shallower sections. The hiking is easy and accessible. Gentle, sloping tundra hills lead you from the river banks to the tundra plateaus above.
Although this is an extremely remote location, the Thomsen River is suitable for the novice Arctic explorer with some Arctic camping experience. Advanced whitewater canoeing skills are not required; however, we do recommend basic whitewater canoeing experience and reasonable health and fitness for your age. Experienced Arctic travelers will still appreciate the exceptional wildlife and fascinating archaeology.
"This was an exceptional trip. I have paddled many rivers and feel privileged to experience this unique environment. I appreciated the guides' ability to interpret the fascinating archaeology." Randy, Ontario, Canada
Recommended Skill Level And Dates
Guides 5:1 ratio
• 12 nights camping, 2 nights at Arctic Chalet in Inuvik
• excellent trail meals and snacks from Day 2 lunch to Day 14 lunch
• Ally packable, folding canoes
• paddles, PFDs, throw bags
• tents: free-standing, custom expedition dome tents - 2 per tent
• "kitchen": tarp, fire box, cooking stoves, utensils, dishes, etc.
• containers for food and group equipment
• first aid, safety, river rescue, and repair kits
• communications equipment (satellite phone)
•.ground transfers in Inuvik
• charter flight from Inuvik to Thomsen River - Day 2
• charter flight from Thomsen River to Inuvik - Day 14
• transportation of guides, group gear, food, etc. to Inuvik
Trip Rendezvous Point: Inuvik, NWT