Of all the places in Canada, the Northwest Territories is certainly one that has a knack for the unexpected. The death-defying canyons, sweeping rivers, and harrowing cliffs beckon trailblazers of all ages and skill levels, promising some of the most exciting adventures of their lives.
It’s in the southwestern corner at Nahanni National Park Reserve that adrenaline junkies can pursue all these thrills in one fell swoop as long as you embrace the experience. Nahanni is a rite of passage, and the Fairy Meadows can feel like your own private oasis. Unless, of course, you're coming in the late summer months when the meadow is awash with tents full of eager climbers awaiting their chance to tackle one of the sky-piercing mountains. Whether you have the place all to yourself or are amongst the throngs of ambitious travelers, remember, it's as much about the journey as the destination.
It's Way Out There
Like all good things in this world, getting to the Fairy Meadows can be a challenge. The national park is located on the very edge of the Yukon-Northwest Territories border, so much so that some locals (assuming you see any around) still find the matter debatable. Wayward explorers are told to drive until the pavement ends, then keep going on a gravel road until it fades into the base of a lake. After a boat ride, a bush flight, and a hike down a well worn trail — as you begin to wonder if this place actually exists — the meadow seemingly unfolds out of nowhere as a welcoming retreat in the middle of one of the most exhilaratingly remote parts of the world.
Mecca for Rock Climbers
The entire valley is surrounded by the Cirque of the Unclimbables. Considered some of the most dramatic — and dangerous — peaks in Canada, the area is particularly enticing to rock climbers. They come from all over the world to test their skills on the steep faces that guard the meadow below. It’s important to note, these climbs are considered sacred ground and reserved only for experienced climbers. If you’re still getting a feel for the ropes, you’re better off taking in the views by foot and hiking one of the nearby trails.
During late spring and early summer, the green meadow is bursting with wildflowers in nearly every color of the rainbow. Then again, flower power comes in all forms here in Fairy Meadows. The Lotus Flower Tower is one of the most famous peaks within the Cirque of the Unclimbables. Stretching toward the heavens, the more than 2,000-foot cliff has been ranked as one of the top 50 climbs in North America and is one of the most popular climbs in the world.