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Nahanni National Park Reserve: A UNESCO World Heritage Site In Canada

Four noteworthy canyons, a spectacular whitewater river, a gorgeous waterfall, and unique flora and fauna characterize this World Heritage Site in Canada.

The Nahanni National Park Reserve was listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1978. It began operations as a park in 1972, established to protect a part of the Mackenzie Mountains Natural Region. The park lies in the Northwest Territories of Canada near the Fort Liard, Fort Simpson, and Nahanni Butte Cities.

History Of The National Park

Historically, the area was occupied by the Dene people throughout centuries. Archaeological remains have been discovered in different sites within the park which prove this early human occupation. Another tribe, the Naha people, lived in the area for a short period. The first Europeans to arrive in the area found the Dene people leading nomadic lifestyles, and they engaged with them in the fur trade. The park was legally established by Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister at the time. Indigenous communities have claim to the area, however, and the park was designated “reserve” status awaiting settlement of the claims. The park was originally 1840.16 Square miles in area, but it has been expanded over the years to the current 11602.37 square miles.

Natural features Of The Nahanni National Park Reserve

The park is home to many natural features. The South Nahanni River (Naha Dehé) cuts across the park’s length from its origin near Moose Pounds to the meeting point with the Liard River. Four major whitewater canyons characterize the river’s coast. The canyons feature high walls made primarily of limestone. The Virginia Falls are also located in the park at an elevation of 1,600 feet. The South Nahanni River plunges into the fall in a spectacular plume. Also found in the park are several mountains including the Mount Sir James MacBrien (9051.9 feet) and Mount Nirvana (9097.7 feet). Other features in the park include sulfur hot springs and tufa mounds.

Flora And Fauna Of The Nahanni National Park Reserve

The park’s landscape is characterized by forests dominated by aspen and spruce and alpine tundra. Over 700 vascular plant species, as well as 300 species of lichen and bryophytes, exist in the Nahanni National Park Reserve. The habitats of the park are home to 42 mammal species, 16 fish species, and 180 avifauna in addition to a few amphibian species. Some of the mammals recorded in the park include the black and grizzly bears, Mackenzie Valley wolf, red fox, lynx, shrew, Arctic ground squirrel, wood bison, woodland caribou, beaver, river otter, wolverine, and pine marten. The trumpeter swan, American kestrel, short-eared owl, olive-sided flycatcher, rusty blackbird, golden eagle, and the red-necked grebes are some of the birds living in the park. The park’s water bodies are home to such fish species as the trout-perch, Arctic grayling, round whitefish, longnose sucker, burbot, spottail shiner, and the lake trout.

Tourism In The Park

Nearly 1000 visitors walk to the park, and most of them are received in the months of June, July, and August. The most practical method to get to the park is by flight. Tourists engage in a variety of activities from kayaking, rafting, canoeing, hiking, paddling, sightseeing, and photography. Spread throughout the park are designated campsites ideal for camping. Visitors are required to follow guidelines to minimize their impact on the environment such as using contained fires instead of open ones. The park’s wildlife also attracts a huge number of enthusiasts from various parts of the world.

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