For many road-trippers, your first “larger than life” experience in the Northwest Territories will occur just a 45-minute-drive past the Alberta border, at one of our most popular parks, Twin Falls Gorge. Heading north on Highway 1, your first hint of what lies ahead will be the plume of mist billowing over the distant evergreens. Pull into the highway-side parking lot, step from your vehicle and you’ll feel the ground tremble. Then follow the short trail to the overlook: The rim of the Hay River Gorge, where 33-metre-high Alexandra Falls leaps into the abyss. By driving a few more kilometres (or walking along the easy woodland trail), you’ll encounter the gracefully tiered Louise Falls, as well as the Twin Falls Gorge Campground. Here you’ll find a wealth of tree-shrouded tent and RV sites, along with washrooms, showers and fresh water, firewood, picnic areas and kitchen shelters. Activities and attractions in the area make this a must-stop campground – for a night, a weekend or more.
Proceed north from Twin Falls Gorge and you’ll encounter a vehicle service centre at Enterprise, veggies and berries at Paradise Gardens, and then the friendly town of Hay River – the second largest community in the Northwest Territories and our rail, shipping and commercial fishing hub. Here, for the first time, you’ll witness Great Slave Lake – a sweeping inland sea, deeper than any other water body on the continent, lined with blissful beaches, dotted with waterfowl, and bubbling with some of the largest and feistiest sport-fish on the planet. How best to experience the lake and town? The Hay River Territorial Park is hard to beat. Perched right on the Great Slave waterfront, this park offers fantastic swimming on the sandy shore, access to local trails and unique views of fishing vessels and shipping plying the lake waters. There's fishing for Pickerel nearby, and great opportunities to fish for Northern Pike or Lake Trout with a local guide. The campground has 35 powered campsites, showers, washrooms and freshwater, firewood, kitchen shelters, friendly staff, and more.
Setting out from Yellowknife on the Ingraham Trail, you’ll quickly experience the Precambrian frontier in all its glory. The road bends around the north tip of Yellowknife Bay, crosses the scenic Yellowknife River, and angles east, weaving through pink outcrops passing the access road to the village of Dettah and the placid day-use parks at Prosperous, Madeline and Pontoon lakes. Just half an hour from town you’ll arrive at Prelude Lake, a 16-kilometre-long, island-dotted, Trout-filled paradise. At the lake’s western end, Prelude Lake Territorial Park offers a refuge for a day, a week, or more. There’s a sandy beach, a boat ramp, and a marina where you can rent a pontoon boat or motorboat. You can also explore two great trails. The Panoramic Trail offers an easy half-kilometre walk, much of it on boardwalks, to two lookouts with splendid views high above Prelude Lake. The Prelude Nature Trail forms a three-kilometre loop, passing through sand dunes, across waves of smooth bedrock, and over spruce bogs bustling with boreal birds. There are 65 campsites (ranging from powered RV spots to scenic walk-in tent sites overlooking the lake), plus washrooms and drinking water, firewood, picnic and kitchen facilities, and a playground.
To learn more about the spectacular campgrounds of the Northwest Territories, check out our parks & camping section.