Located in the Yukon territory, the Ivvavik National Park was the very first national park to be created under the aboriginal land claim agreement between the Canadian government and the Aboriginal people. Ivvavik (which means "a place for giving birth" or "a nursey" in Inuvialuktun) is a place for the true nature enthusiast. Ivvavik is a true wilderness area with no facilities or established trails within the park's boundaries.
The landscape is dominated by the British Mountains - these mountains account for two-thirds of the area of the Ivvavik National Park. The Ivvavik land has been shaped by wind and water erosion and by frost shattering. Adding some diversity to the landscape is the Firth River, a 130 kilometer river which attracts many varieties of animals and also tourists eager to see all that Ivvavik National Park has to offer. A trip along the First River will also expose you to the regian's rich geological history. Fossilized remains (plants and animals and also coral fossilized in limestone) can be found in the southern areas of the Ivvavik National Park.
The arctic climate makes is difficult for many species of plant and animal life to survive in the Ivvavik area. To thrive in Ivvavik, animals and plants must be able to take advantage of a short growing season which includes two months of twenty-four hour sunlight and also endure a long, harsh winter (including a month of total darkness). The three main types of vegetation in Ivvavik National Park are: arctic tundra, alpine tundra and taiga. Permafrost and amount and location of moisture, as well as air, soil temperature and exposure to wind have an impact on how plants are distributed throughout Ivvavik National Park. The Firth River Valley is home to the most delicate plants, whereas on the costal plain permafrost prevents many types of plant life from taking hold. Some of the wildlife that call Ivvavik home are: the porcupine caribou, muskoxen, dall's sheep and arctic ground squirrel. You may also see resident or migratory species of birds in the Ivvavik National Park.
The Ivvavik area has a rich cultural history that you can investigate before your trip to the park and while on vacation. Inuvialuit wisdom has had a real impact on the park's philosophy and the Parks Canada's commitment to protecting the land and its unique heritage for future generations.
There are many activities to keep you busy on your visit to Ivvavik National Park. You can raft down the Firth River and see some absolutely breathtaking scenery. Hikers can journey along the mountain ranges and the coastal lowlands. If you time your visit right, you can witness the annual migration of Porcupine caribou that moves from the central Yukon to Alaska.
Visitors to Ivvavik must be completely self-sufficient. There are no facilities and campgrounds on site so you must be able to bring everything you might need with you and deal with any medical issues that might arise on your own. Very few people visit Ivvavik National Park in the winter though it can be accessed by snow machine.
If you would like to plan a winter trip to Ivvavik, the best months are March and April when the temperatures have warmed slightly from earlier winter months.