The Mountain River is considered the most coveted whitewater canoe trip in Canada by seasoned river-guides. Awesome alpine scenery bathed in constantly-changing colours, dramatic canyons, exciting Class 1 to 3 whitewater, and non-stop current – all in a pristine wilderness setting – make this trip a “must” for experienced paddlers. There are exceptional side hikes to mineral springs and tufa formations, alpine ridges, and mountain lookouts. Dall sheep, caribou, wolves, and bears live along the river.

The expedition starts with a dramatic flight through the Mackenzie Mountains to a high, jewel-like alpine lake. From here we complete our only portage to a tiny tributary creek, and begin the thrilling descent through the mountains. The river literally falls away in front of our canoes as the current pulls us forward. The river is continually changing, but always moving – complete with swifts, rolling waves, rocky rapids, sweeping turns, and narrow canyons.

The Mountain River trip is a good choice for those with solid whitewater skills, previous river canoe-tripping experience, and reasonable fitness levels. Novices should gain experience elsewhere before considering this route.

What is included:


  • 5:1 ratio


  • 13 nights of camping


  • excellent trail meals and snacks from Day 1 dinner to Day 13 lunch

Canoeing Equipment

  • custom 17’ ABS expedition canoes with spray decks and knee pads
  • paddles, PFDs, throw bags, paddling helmets

Camping Equipment

  • tents: free-standing, custom expedition dome tents – 2 per tent
  • “kitchen”: tarp, cooking stoves, utensils, dishes, etc.
  • containers for food and group equipment

Safety Equipment

  • first aid, safety, river rescue, and repair kits
  • communications equipment (satellite phone)


  • charter float plane flight from Norman Wells to Willow Handle Lake – Day 1
  • shuttle of group and gear from the mouth of the Mountain River to Norman Wells
  • transportation of guides, group gear, food, etc. to Norman Wells
  • ground transfer between Norman Wells Airport and Base / float plane docks on Day 1, and from the hotel to the airport on day 14

Booking an Expedition

Skill Level: 3
Duration: 14 days

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