Ukkusiksalik is located in one of the most northern and remote parts of the world. Ukkasiksalik National Park is only accessible by scheduled flights from Winnipeg, Manitoba, or Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Ukkusiksalik is located just south of the Arctic Circle and a small community called Repulse Bay. The park surrounds Wager Bay, which is a 100-kilometre long salt-water inlet, located on the northwest coast of Hudson Bay.
Wager Bay is known for its tides, which can reach as high as eight metres. The bay’s strong tides also produce a reversed waterfall.
Backcountry activities abound in Ukkusiksalik. However, it is strongly recommended that hikers, climbers, campers, boaters and wildlife enthusiasts hire a local outfitter to lead them through the park.
Ukkusiksalik is a relatively new national park – it was designated Canada’s 41st national park in August of 2003 when the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement was signed.
The park’s climate is Marine arctic, which is characterized by low precipitation levels and low temperatures. However, the area’s most significant climatological factor is the high winds.
Ukkusiksalik experiences some of the lowest wind-chill factors in North America, along with the most amount of blowing snow.
From May to August, the park is constantly under the sun while the temperatures become cool to warm. On the other hand, between November and February, there is no sunshine, temperatures plummet to well below freezing and the wind picks up. From November to May, the days are short and coupled with low temperatures and even lower wind chills. July is traditionally the warmest month of the year - temperatures during this month reach an average high of 11 Celsius. Ice remains on the Hudson Bay until the end of July.
Hudson Bay is also what influence’s the park’s climate by creating a heat sink in the summer. Inland, the winds cause summer fog and autumn snowstorms.
The park’s wildlife can be described as primeval. Polar bears congregate en masse during the summer months, while Arctic wolves hunt caribou. Other mammals living within Ukkasiksalik National Park includes the grizzly bear and muskox bulls, who share the park with snow geese, geese and tundra swans to name a few. Eagles – bald and golden, along with the peregrine falcons and rough-legged hawks prey from high above.
From approximately 1,000 AD to the 1960s, Inuit people lived within the park’s boundaries. Today, the park has no human inhabitants, however, the Inuit people, from the Kivalliq community, are allowed to sustenance hunt and fish within the park’s boundaries.
Ukkasiksalik’s landscape is very uniform – low ridges that are broken up lakes and rivers. Surging glaciers can be found throughout the land.
There is evidence, in the form of old beaches and marine clay deposits over 200 meters about the current sea level, that the area wash covered by giant lakes and melting until the last great ice sheets.
The park’s tundra vegetation includes willow, Labrador tea, dwarf birch, mountain avens, along with numerous varieties of the blueberry family.