The breathtaking flight through the Mackenzie Mountains to O’Grady Lake sets the stage for an awesome whitewater adventure on the Natla River, a major tributary of the Keele River. The surrounding peaks are shrouded with hanging glaciers – these ranges offer challenging climbs for hiking enthusiasts. As you exit O’Grady Lake, the Natla picks up speed and offers intermediate or advanced canoeists challenging rapids with tight lines and technical rock-gardens.
Rugged mountains flank the upper Natla Valley with easy access for evening or all-day hikes. The shallow, rocky swifts require considerable scouting and some tricky stretches can be lined. Where side creeks join the Natla, fly-fisherman can take delight in catching bull trout and arctic grayling. You can expect to see caribou and moose and the occasional grizzly on this remote river. The Natla sees just a couple of canoe trips annually. After four days of technical paddling, the Natla enters a relaxed quiet stretch of river until the Stelfox Range comes into full view signaling a dramatic swing to the northeast and the final 10km canyon run before joining the turquoise waters of the Keele River.
For whitewater enthusiasts, the canyon run has continuous Class III rapids for several kilometers highlighted with a Class IV- Ledge that is usually carried around. The rapids are easily scouted on a well-worn horse trail located on river-right. A final smooth downhill slide to the Keele River leaves paddlers with an incredible sense of respect and accomplishment for having canoed one of the most technical rivers in the Mackenzie Mountains. Trippers can paddle one full day on the Keele River to a remote airstrip or, they can join a Keele River trip and paddle the entire Keele River to the confluence with the Mackenzie River before flying back to the Float Base in Norman Wells.