South Nahanni River

A classic wilderness river in southern Mackenzie Mountains of Canada's Northwest Territories with whitewater sections up to class III.


  • See Parks Canada River Information:  
    • June:  high and sometimes dangerous flow
    • July and August:  Moderate
    • Flows are significantly affected by rain

Put-Ins and Take-Outs

Getting to and away from the South Nahanni is logistically complex. The charter flight is the most significant cost. You can minimize that by selecting a charter company located as close to your start and end points as possible. Because the river is long, these will be quite far apart, requiring different logistics on both ends.  Fortunately, there are many charter services around the Nahanni, giving you plenty of options to choose from. 

  • The Moose Ponds:  Fly Vancouver to Whitehorse. Overland shuttle to Kluane Airways. Overnight. Charter flight to the Moose Ponds.
  • Lindberg Landing: Nahanni River Adventures provides a car shuttle to Fort Simpson. From there fly schedule service (often via Yellowknife) to Vancouver.

On the River

Moose Ponds to Rabbitkettle

132 miles

From the Moose Ponds, the river has continuous class II and III rapids for 37.3 miles. It then slows. There are numerous possible side trips. A reservation for camping is required for Rabbitkettle.

Rabbitkettle to Virginia Falls

116 miles

Relaxed river, opportunity for hiking.

Virginia Falls to Deadmen Valley

111 Miles

4th, 3rd, and 2nd Canyons.

Deadmen Valley to Blackstone Landing

154 Miles

1st canyon. The river slows at The Splits. The Laird river is even slower. It is about 30 miles from Nahanni Butte to Blackstone Landing.  


Nahanni National Park Reserve will have up to date information on access the Nahanni River. Parties must register with the park, including reserving dates for some popular camp sites.  

Go Trekkers has a set of South Nahanni River maps.

  • Difficulty: Class III River
  • Length: 367.0 mi
  • 3,588 ft
  • Land Manager: Land Manager Varies
  • Parking Permit Required: see Land Manager
  • Recommended Party Size: 6
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
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