Photo: Destination Canada

For two months each winter, the North Slave region is home to the planet’s longest ice road – a 600-kilometre frozen highway rolling across lakes and tundra clear to the Nunavut border. Though designed for mining transport trucks, this private road also carries hunters, photographers and adventurers. The hearty few who tackle it will need guts, gas, and Arctic-grade cold weather gear.

The northernmost river

The Thomsen, gliding crystal-clear through the treeless Eden of Aulavik National Park, is considered the farthest-north navigable river on the planet. Each summer, canoeists ride its flow of snowmelt to the Arctic Ocean, gawking at muskoxen and fishing for char, whitefish and the world’s northernmost trout. This voyage can be done independently with careful planning, but it is best done with a tour guide for those who want to be uttermost paddlers on the planet. 

The most remote place

Welcome to Canada's Empty Quarter – the vast unpopulated zone between the eastern shores of Great Slave and the coast of Hudson Bay. This sweeping swath of the Barrenlands has the lowest population density of anywhere outside of Antarctica – no roads, no homes, no Starbucks. There are a few fishing lodges here, and legendary rivers like the Thelon, plus tens of thousands of caribou, wolves, muskoxen, grizzlies and other critters. It's a heckuva place to go if you want to get away from people. 

The richest ground

The Northwest Territories was once home to an array of hard-rock gold mines, some of the first oil wells in Canada, and a uranium mine that fuelled the Manhattan Project. Now the territory produces something even richer. Canada’s first diamonds were discovered here in the 1990s. Thanks to these deposits, the country is now the world’s third-largest diamond producer.

The strangest beast

Call it what you want – nanulak, grolar bear, pizzly, p-grizzle. It's a part grizzly bear, part polar bear, and fully weird. The product of intermating between polar bear mamas and male brown bears that are spreading north due to climate change, just two of the hybrids have been confirmed to exist, both right here in the Northwest Territories. However, it's widely assumed that more of them are roaming the tundra up around Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok.

The earliest game

Fun fact: The Northwest Territories is the birthplace of hockey. While wintering here in the 1820s, Sir John Franklin’s men played a hockey-like sport on a frozen pond near Great Bear Lake –  the earliest documented instance of what is, of course, the greatest game on Earth. 

The oldest rock

Cropping up from a mid-river island north of Wekweeti, right at the cusp of the Barrenlands, is a mound of stone from the Earth’s beginnings. At more than 4 billion years old, the Acasta Gneiss is the most ancient exposed rock ever found. It is literally the oldest thing on Planet Earth.