Paulatuuq – “Place of coal”

Population: 304

Near the western mouth of the Northwest Passage, this is a small, traditional Inuvialuit community with deep roots in hunting, trapping and Arctic-char fishing. It’s also a basecamp for trips to Tuktut Nogait National Park, the Cape Parry Bird Sanctuary, and the Smoking Hills, a perpetually burning coal seam. Access is by air from Inuvik. 


Location: 69°21′ N, 124°04′ W
Elevation: 5 metres
Population: 345
Name means: “Place of coal”
Record high / low: 30.3°C / -46.9 °C
Setting: On silty tundra facing Darnley Bay, just east of the Melville Hills at the western exit of the Northwest Passage
Languages: Inuvialuktun, English
Ethnicities: Inuvialuit, non-Aboriginal
Getting here: By air from Inuvik
Founded in: This is the ancestral territory of the Copper Inuit. The community became permanently occupied following the opening of a trading post here in 1935
Best daytrip: To the Smoking Hills, 105 kilometres west at Cape Bathurst, where underground coal seams have smouldered for centuries, sending eerie plumes over the Arctic Ocean
Best expedition: Paddling the Hornaday River, which runs through nearby Tuktut Nogait National Park and empties into the sea just east of Paulatuk
Don’t miss: Purchasing local sculptures and stone-cut prints, for which the community is famous
Come for: The Ikhalukpik Jamboree, held every August, celebrating the return of Arctic char with traditional games, drum dances and other events


Our Stories

Intriguing tales from Canada's Northwest Territories

Parks Canada / National Parks & Historic Sites

Four National Parks are located in the Northwest Territories: Aulavik, Nahanni National Park Reverve, Tuktut Nogait and Wood Buffalo National Park. Read more

Aklak Air

Scheduled air transportation to Paulatuk, Tuktoyaktuk, Sachs Harbour, Ulukhaktok and seasonally to Fort McPherson out of Inuvik and air charter service to anywhere in the Western Arctic. Read more

Paulatuk Visitors Centre Hotel

Ten comfortable rooms with private showers and TV. Read more


June 21 every year

Territorial holiday with events in all communities. Contact town offices for details. Read more


July 1 every year

National holiday with events in all communities. Contact town offices and check community websites for details. Read more