A Canadian Heritage River, the Coppermine is steeped in ancient history of the early Copper Inuit and the more recent history and lore of explorers George Douglas, Samuel Hearn and John Franklin. The Coppermine flows northwesterly from the central territories through stunted taiga forest, rolling tundra plateaus and rugged granite cliffs at Rocky Defile. The historic Sandstone, Muskox and Escape Rapids are big volume rapids demanding both caution and expertise by intermediate or advanced canoeists.
As we round Big Bend, the Coppermine swings north towards the arctic coast and Coronation Gulf. Flat-topped mountains and volcanic plateaus are connected by barren slopes and rocky outcrops. The ominous sheer granite cliffs guard the gate at Rocky Defile, a half-mile shadowy canyon run with class III & IV rapids. Just past the Rocky Defile, we camp at the confluence with the Kendall River famous for its prolific char fishing. The river winds through inspiring canyon topography of the terraced and sculpted September Mountains.
An all-day hike gains significant elevation affording breathtaking views of the sweeping Coppermine River Valley. Caribou and muskoxen are plentiful in this area of the river and with luck we might see grizzly bears or wolves. Sandstone, Muskox and Escape rapids challenge even the most experienced canoeist. Some sections of rapids may be lined. A rich archeological legacy presents opportunities to experience stone tent rings, meat caches and inukshuks. At historic Bloody Falls, a portage trail brings us to our final campsite at a fabulous char pool and our first look at the distant ocean at Kugluktuk. A half day paddle brings us to our final destination of Kugluktuk. We have time to explore this remote but extremely friendly arctic village before returning by jet service to Yellowknife.