The World’s National Parks

9 Places To Get Your Pulse Racing

We got out our heart rate monitors (super scientific) to investigate the best national parks to really get your pulse racing. From whitewater rafting to family hiking trails.

Lace up your hiking boots, clip on a bicycle helmet and grab some oars. Here are eight inspiring ways to experience the wild beauty of the worlds best national parks.

Wether you want to ride thunderous rapids at the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park is wilderness on a colossal scale, a shifting sea of eroded towers of sunset-hued rock. Its walls plunge a mile to the Colorado River, where there’s a fevered crush of boaters. Snaking some 277 miles, it alternates between serene stretches and stomach-churning, life-affirming whitewater. No one forgets a trip through monster-sized Lava Falls, but there’s also the refuge of sandy beaches, verdant side canyons, and ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs to admire. Rafting the Grand is full immersion in nature.

Trail run to El Capitan in Yosemite

In the national park best known for waterfalls, giant sequoias, and incredible rock formations, Yosemite Valley Loop Trail offers a rare opportunity to run a fairly level trail on mixed surfaces of dirt, rocks, sand and old pavement. The trail (11.5 miles full loop or 7.2 miles half loop) takes you through meadows, talus slopes at the base of granite cliffs, and near the Merced River. Start from the Lower Yosemite Falls area, head west along the base of the Three Brothers rock formation, past Camp 4, eventually reaching El Capitan.

Cycle extreme terrain in Death Valley

Huge variations in temperature and elevation make Death Valley National Park a truly diverse and extreme environment. Rugged dirt roads connect expansive salt flats to narrow, rock-walled canyons, climbing upwards into cool, forested mountains. Extensive options await experienced, self-supported backcountry cyclists: check ahead with the NPS for trails open to mountain bikes. Fat, high-volume bike tires are essential for the loose rock and sandy roads, and water is scarce – make sure you bring enough for the whole day. Plan your adventure for late fall or early spring to avoid the record high temperatures that helped give Death Valley its name.

National parks across the world are full of timeless marvels that still rejuvenate the soul: the world’s largest trees in Sequoia; its most spectacular geothermal site in Yellowstone; the grandest canyon.

From Acadia to Zion, this beautiful introduction to America’s preserved natural treasures is packed with landscape photography, original wildlife illustrations, and practical information. You will surely be inspired to rediscover these incredible spaces and find out why they’re worth celebrating and you’ll have all the tools to plan the first of many exciting trips.

Whether you’re lucky enough to have a park on your doorstep or need to travel further, we hope that this page inspire you both the iconic and lesser­known gems that make up the worlds national parks diversely breathtaking expanses.



Facts about the Vondelpark

With over 10 million visitors each year, the Vondelpark is the most famous park in the Netherlands. This number of visitors equals 21 visitors per square meter. In comparison, the Central Park in New York is visited by approximately 5 people per square meter. It is a big number for such a small country…

The Vondelpark was named after a Dutch poet, Joost van den Vondel, and was initiated by a group of Amsterdam noble men and business men in 1864. In 1953, it was sold to the city council. The decentralised city council Stadsdeel Oud-Zuid is now responsible for maintenance of the park. In 1996 the park has been awarded the status of governmental monument (rijksmonument). This status reflects the historic and cultural value that the park represents. With this status the park has become one of the crown jewels of the city of Amsterdam.


Location and measurements

The Vondelpark is situated in the centre of Amsterdam, just a five-minute walk from the Leidseplein and at walking distance from the famous Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum. The Vondelpark consists of 470.000 m2 and is divided into 16.000 m2 grass and sideways, 2.000 m2 rose bushes, 8.000 m2 water, 11.000m2 trees and bushes and 10.000 m2 tarmac and playgrounds. The total distance of the park if you use the so-called large round is 3.3 km long.


Things to do in the park

At the southern side of the park you can rent inline skates at the Vondeltuin. If this skating, walking or cycling makes you thirsty, the park has 4 places where you can have a drink or something to eat. In summertime, roughly from June till the end of August the open air theatre has performances 4 days per week for free. If you want to relax and watch a nice film, the Filmmuseum is a nice venue to get to know more about the film and watch a film.


cycling around vondelpark

Renovation of the Vondelpark

There are ambitious plans for the renovation of the Vondelpark by the previous owner, the City district Amsterdam Oud- Zuid. A large-scale renovation has taken place in the park since 1999. This is urgently needed because every year the park attracts 10 million visitors. Because of this intensive use and problems with the water management, the 140-year-old park has deteriorated into a poor condition. As the park is also justifiably a living monument (it was listed by the state in 1996), its huge value is also based on the grand design of the lines and shapes.

The renovation will ensure that the park is conserved for future generations. In the modifications an attempt is always made to achieve the right balance between the importance of the Vondelpark as a state monument and its intensive use by many visitors. The park will be completed in all its glory at the beginning of 2010.

The government is actually carrying out the renovation itself. The Foundation Hart voor het Vondelpark is endeavouring to achieve a good quality design for the park, i.e., the additional image that such an internationally famous park deserves. Aspects such as the toilets, park furniture and (the disappeared) park kiosks will be developed on the basis of a design competition. Cooperation with businesses and private initiatives will be involved in the execution. The private contribution (on the initiative of the Friends of the Vondelpark) with which the original Cuypers drinking fountain was restored, is a good example of this.

The situation regarding the Renovation of the Vondelpark
The renovation of the Vondelpark will be completed in 2010. The last work on the maintenance, the so-called core features of the park, will start in May 2008. This involves placing the final top layer on all the paths for pedestrians and asphalt paths, raising the lawns and plating all the shrubs, providing foundations for trees, installing the final drainage and renovating the remaining entrances. These activities will take place throughout the park. You will be sent detailed information about this.

Widening the cycle path on the Picasso meadow
The route from the Kattenlaan to the Koninginneweg is the North-South connection for cyclists and walkers through the Vondelpark. Part of this route goes through the Picasso meadow. However, this path is too narrow for the cycle traffic on such as important route and it will also carry pedestrians. Therefore when the Renovation plan was confirmed in 2001 it was decided to widen the cycle path to 3.5 metres and to give it a more flowing design. In addition, there will be a separate walking path by the water’s edge.

vondelpark bandstand

Management, status, usage

The park is located in the southern part of Amsterdam. Old South is responsible for the management of the park. In 1996, the Vondelpark, one of the first city parks, acquired the status of national monument. This status will suit the cultural and historical value that represents the park. This is the Vondelpark is one of the crown jewels of Amsterdam. Each year an average of 10 million people to the park. That’s about 21 visitors per square meter. By comparison, Central Park in New York City receives annually about 5 visits per square meter!

Children’s pool Vondelpark

In line with the Kattenlaan is the children’s pool. As of May, children in the paddling pool again enjoy the cool water in warm weather. Opening hours are Monday / Sunday with supervision from 10:00 to 18:00. To all this joy comes to an end, because the bath is drained in September. The managers of the park hope you enjoy.

Surface and layout

Vondelpark covers a small 47 hectares (470,000 m2) and does include 16 hectares of grass and verges, 0.2 ha of rose bushes, eight hectares of water, 10 hectares of “hardened” (playgrounds, roads) and 11 ha of planting stock . The park is 2 km long (from the Amstelveenseweg to the Stadhouderskade). A small circle on the asphalt (Amstelveenseweg into Koninginneweg along the water playground and back) is 2 km. The largest circle, the pavilion and along the way to the Amstelveenseweg, is more than 3 km long.

The Vondelpark has different faces. In the vicinity of the Pavilion, the park is small and romantic intent. This site maintains an intimate atmosphere. In the direction of Amstelveenseweg the park is wider in scope and gets a nationwide kararakter.

Flora and fauna

There are more than 4,700 trees in the park, spread over 150 different species. Of these, there are several on the list of monumental trees in Oud-Zuid. Two trees on the list of monumental trees in the Netherlands.

In 2001, the trees inventoried in the Vondelpark. The trees are measured and identified. After counting shows that successively the hawthorn, ash, oak, field maple, sycamore and alder are the most common in the park. Fewer still are prominent weeping willows and swamp cypresses. There are also Muslim, marsh, summer and sessile oak, beech, Turkish hazel, cherry, various types of lime trees, walnut, poplar and italliaanse find the gray alder.

growing in the bushes next to trees also shrubs and herbs. The shrubs are holly, and yew Amelanchier most common. Examples of shrubs: hazel, dogwood, elderberry, blackberry and snowball. Especially shrubs have to bleed by their favorable position relative to the sun flowers and berries. These edges attract birds and insects. In the spring the soil is adorned with various spices: snowdrops, winter aconite, bluebell, wild garlic, flute gunpowder, dog trot, witch herb and garlic mustard.


In the park, the following animals: hedgehog, (rough) pipistrelle, let kite, home and wood mouse, squirrel, blackbird, wren, song thrush, hedge sparrow, house sparrow, wood pigeon, woodpecker and pimpel- and great tit, parakeets, green and brown frog, newt and toad. In 2007, the Vondelpark, as a long time again to welcome a pair of storks. Read more about that and look at the pictures (PDF, 243 kB) . In 2011, 2012 and 2013 there was breeding a flock of storks in the park. On the same site as the storks beekeeper is also active.

The waters in the Vondelpark accommodate about 12 species of fish: eel, bream, crucian carp, Giebel carp, Leucaspius delineatus, roach, tench, brown bullhead, pike, perch and three-spined stickleback.

There brooding ongveer 30 bird species including the Wren, song thrush, rape and blue tit, Dunnock, blackcap, garden warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, warbler, spotted flycatcher, robin, tree creeper, green groups, woodpecker, jay and the exotic parakeets.

Rules of the Park

With over 10 million visitors per year the Vondelpark is the most frequently visited park in the Netherlands. Nevertheless, every single person easily finds his or her own space in the park. There is, however, an occasional incident whereby some of the visitors (the skaters, cyclists and runners) keep less account of each other’s activity. The rule is very simple: a lot is allowed, but please respect the other visitors as well. Below is a summary of the rules in the park.


You are permitted to:

  • Have a picnic, but take your litter with you.
  • Bring and walk your dog without a lead.
  • Cycle and skate through the park, but only on the tarmac roads.
  • Barbecue in designated areas ONLY. All coals and litter must be disposed in trasch receptacles
  • sunbathe (also when there is no sunshine).

Barbecuing areas

There are two fields where barbecueing is allowed. Around the statue of Picasso (south of the paddling pool) and around the statue of Joost van den Vondel, as indicated by signs.
To prevent damage to the pasture, there are special fireproof barbecue tiles located in these areas. Barbecuing is only allowed on these tiles.


It is prohibited to:

  • Sell consumables or goods, a permit is required
  • Use mopeds or scooters in the park
  • Make a bonfire
  • Stay overnight – camp outside
  • Sunbathe naked
  • Leave litter behind, including dog faeces
  • Bring and walk your dog in the designated barbecue areas.

Griffiths Park

Griffith Park Los angeles parks


Griffith Park is open to the public from 5:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Bridle trails, hiking paths, and mountain roads are closed at sunset. The speed limit on all park roads is 25 mph and is strictly enforced. Brush fires present a definite safety hazard, especially from Spring to early Fall, when the natural chaparral and underbrush is very dry. Open fires are prohibited; barbecue pits are provided free of charge at picnic areas. In case of emergency in the park, notify the Ranger Station at (213) 978-4670 or dial 911.


Griffith Park lies just west of the Golden State Freeway (I-5), roughly between Los Feliz Boulevard on the south and the Ventura Freeway (SR 134) on the north. Freeway off-ramps leading to the park from I-5 are Los Feliz Boulevard, Griffith Park (direct entry) and Zoo Drive. Approaching the park on SR 134 eastbound, take either the Forest Lawn Drive or Victory Boulevard offramps. From SR 134 westbound, take Zoo Drive or Forest Lawn Drive. After leaving freeways, follow the signs into the park.


With over 4,210 acres of both natural chapparal-covered terrain and landscaped parkland and picnic areas, Griffith Park is the largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the United States. Situated in the eastern Santa Monica Mountain range, the Park’s elevations range from 384 to 1,625 feet above see level. With an arid climate, the Park’s plant communities vary from coastal sage scrub, oak and walnut woodlands to riparian vegetation with trees in the Park’s deep canyons. The California native plants represented in Griffith Park include the California species of oak, walnut, lilac, mountain mahagony, sages, toyon, and sumac. Present, in small quantities, are the threatened species of manzanita and berberis.

Over the years recreational attractions have been developed throughout the Park, however an amazingly large portion of the Park remains virtually unchanged from the days Native American villages occupied the area’s lower slopes. Today’s Griffith Park offers numerous family attractions, an assortment of educational and cultural institutions, and miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, and provides visitors an ideal environment for enjoyable recreation activities.

Originally a part of the Spanish land grant, Rancho Los Feliz, the park was named for its former owner, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith. Born in Glamorganshire, South Wales, Griffith emigrated to the United States in 1865, eventually, making a personal fortune in California gold mine speculation. In 1882, Griffith settled in Los Angeles, and purchased a 4,071 acre portion of the Rancho Los Feliz, which stretched northward from the northern boundaries of the Pueblo de Los Angeles. On December 16, 1896, the civic-minded Griffith bequeathed 3,015 acres of his Rancho Los Feliz estate as a Christmas gift to the people of Los Angeles to be used as parkland. The enormous gift, equal to five square miles, was to be given to the city unconditionally – or almost so.

” It must be made a place of recreation and rest for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people,” Griffith said on that occasion. ” I consider it my obligation to make Los Angeles a happier, cleaner, and finer city. I wish to pay my debt of duty in this way to the community in which I have prospered.”

Since Griffith’s original gift, further donations of land, along with City purchases and the reversion of private land to public domain have expanded the Park to its present size. Col. Griffith died July 7, 1919, however, he had left a sizeable trust fund to complete the dreams he had for the park; specifically designating funds for the construction of a Greek amphitheater (the Greek Theatre, built 1930) and an observatory and hall of science (Griffith Observatory, built 1935.)

Griffith Park stands today a monument to the dedicated vision of one man–Griffith Jenkins Griffith, Park Commission, civic philanthropist, advocate of parklands, and fervent speaker of recreation for the health of Los Angeles.



Hollywoodland Camp – (213) 467-7193. Nestled in a 55-acre area overlooking the Hollywood Hills, this camp conducts weekly, weekend, and parent-child sleepover camps for girls age 6-17, operated by the Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Department. All sessions include swimming, crafts, hiking, campfire singing, and horseback riding. Organized groups of 50 or more people may rent the camp during unscheduled periods.
Griffith Park Camp – (213) 664-0571. Located on Spur Road off Griffith Park Drive, the camp provides organized camping on weekends and holidays, open to boys 7-14 years of age. Organized groups of 50 or more people may rent the camp during unscheduled periods.


Hiking into the rugged hills and sparsely developed areas is perhaps one of the most popular forms of recreation in Griffith Park. Hikers are allowed to use the entire 53-mile network of trails, fire roads and bridle paths. Maps of trails and current information on trail closures and special restrictions are available at the Ranger Station, (323) 913-4688. All trails in the park are closed at dusk. Open fires and smoking are not allowed. One of the most rewarding hikes in the park is the trail leading from the Observatory parking lot to the summit of Mount Hollywood, the highest peak of the park, which affords spectacular views of the entire Los Angeles Basin. Hikers should approach the park with caution; Griffith Park is a wilderness area with wild quail, rodents, foxes, coyotes, rattlesnakes and deer.

Horseback Riding:

Riders have many specially marked trails, fire, and patrol roads within the park boundaries. All trails are closed at sunset. Riders may walk, trot, or canter horses, but must remain on marked trails at all times. Stables located near the parks northwestern and southwestern boundaries are privately owned. (Pony rides available).


Favorite routes for jogging are Griffith Park Drive from the Los Feliz Boulevard/Riverside Drive entrance, Crystal Springs Drive in Park Center to the Los Angeles Zoo, and Zoo Drive to the Travel Town Museum.


Registration Fees are $30 for the 5K and $60 for the Half Marathon

A community road race in historic Griffith Park will support LA’s 440 parks.

Runners return to the pavement in historic Griffith Park for a Half Marathon and 5K road race circling the LA Zoo and Gene Autry Museum, bypassing horse trails, the LA River and golf courses and starting and finishing in the central park meadow with an EXPO of food and product vendors, live music, t-shirts for all participants and medals for all top age group finishers.

The Half Marathon and 5K road race in Griffith Park is organized by the LA Parks Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to promoting and enhancing the city’s public park system, which includes over 440 public parks and recreation centers stretching over more than 16,000 acres. 



John Ferraro Athletic Fields. This 26-acre facility has five regulation and two practive soccer and rugby fields available for City-sponsored and independent leagues. The fields are located on Zoo Drive in the Riverdale section of Griffith Park near the intersection of the 5 Freeway, the 134 Freeway and the Los Angeles River. Reservations are required. For information and reservations call (213) 485-7611 or (818) 246-5613.


“The Plunge,” Griffith Park’s swimming pool, located at the Riverside Drive and Los Feliz Boulevard, is open during the summer months. For more information, call 323-644-6878.


Griffith-Riverside Pay Tennis – Located on Riverside Drive near the Griffith Recreation Center Complex. These courts are fee reservation by the hour. (323) 661-5318

Vermont Pay Tennis – Located on Commonwealth Drive, enter park through the Vermont Avenue entrance. These courts are fee reservation by the hour. (323) 664-3521

Griffith Park Drive Courts – Located in Park Center in the vicinity of the Merry-Go-Round. The Griffith Park Drive Courts are free to the public, on a first-come, first-serve basis, working under the system whereby players are asked to play only one set of tennis or volley for an hour at a time. Players must relinquish the court to waiting players after the conclusion of one set.

Picnic Areas:

Crystal Springs – Crystal Springs Drive, enter at Ranger Station.

Mineral Wells – Griffith Park Drive near Harding Golf Course.

Old Zoo – Off Griffith Park Drive; tables place around obsolete animal cages from the original Los Angeles Zoo.

Park Center – Crystal Springs Drive, near the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round; featuring playground equipment.

Pecan Grove – Zoo Drive between the Victory Blvd. Bridge and the Los Angeles Zoo.

Symphony in the glen:

Classical concerts in Griffith Park.

Directions: The orchestra sometimes appears at other venues in the park. On those occasions it is advisable to refer to the website of the host venue (see schedule page).



Los Angeles’s Griffith Park is the largest urban park in the country. The park is located just southwest of the junction of the 5 Freeway and the 134 Freeway.

Once you enter the park, follow the blue and white Symphony In The Glen signs to parking north of  the merry-go-round.

NOTE: The concert site has no address. If you are using MapQuest, Google Maps, or other online map service, try setting the trip request for the intersection of Los Feliz Blvd. and Riverside Drive.



  • Don’t forget your canned food donation. Every food donation feeds a hungry child.
  • No pets, please.
  • PLEASE CARPOOL WHENEVER POSSIBLE: Available parking fills quickly. Frequently concert parking is full a half hour before the concert.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to park and get situated. Be prepared for a short walk from the parking area.
  • Dress comfortably. It may get cooler as the sun goes down at Twilight concerts that take place in the months of June and September. You might want to bring a sweater.
  • Bring a picnic. Only a few snack items, beverages and water are available for purchase at the concert.
  • FOR TWILIGHT CONCERTS: Although flying insects are not usually a problem, this is the great outdoors, so arming your family with insect repellant would be wise.


  • Bring a blanket. Folding chairs are also workable in some areas, however, much of the seating area is on an incline.
  • We ask patrons with regular height folding chairs to set up toward the sides of the audience area so as not to block the sight-lines of those on blankets. the low-profile of beach chairs works better in the center areas.
  • If you are carrying many items you might want to bring a collapsible shopping cart to make things easier for you.


  • Special handicapped parking is provided. Look for signs to the “Artists Entrance.”
  • The path from the parking lot is up-hill.
  • A handicapped accessible toilet is conveniently located directly adjacent to the main concert area.

Hong Kong Park Introduction

This Park, being built at a cost of $398 million and opened in May 1991, covers 8 hectares in Central and is an outstanding example of modern design and facilities blending with the natural landscape.

A further attraction is the way of flowing water, which has been employed as a thematic motif to link the different features of the park by waterfalls, streams, ponds and cliffs from artificial rocks.

Hong Kong Park, covers an area of 8 hectares, is officially opened in May 1991. The present site of the Park was originally a garrison named Victoria Barracks. In 1979, the Government decided that the portion of the garrison near the foot of the hill should be used for commercial development and construction of government buildings while the mid-level portion be jointly developed by the former Urban Council and the former Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club for the provision of a park. The project was undertaken at a cost of $398 million.

The Park has preserved a number of garrison buildings built between 1842 and 1910. The buildings included the formerly residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces known as the Flagstaff House (currently accommodating the Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware), the Rawlinson House (currently accommodating the Park Management Office and the Cotton Tree Drive Marriage Registry), the Wavell House (currently accommodating the Education Centre) and the Cassels Block (currently accommodating the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre).

At the centre of the Park, visitors can see an artificial lake and a waterfall, which were built on the site of a tennis court of the former garrison. Walking along the lakeside path and up the steps in the direction of Central, visitors will find the Olympic Square, the Park Management Office and the Cotton Tree Drive Marriage Registry. In the central part of the Park, two modernised major facilities, namely the Conservatory and the Aviary, were built on the hillside adjacent to the Tai Chi Garden and the Vantage Point. They form a distinctive architectural complex in the Park.


Address : 19, Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong

Hongkong park map


MTRAdmiralty Station C1 exit
BUS1, 3B, 5, 5B, 6, 6A, 6X, 8X, 10, 12, 12A, 12M, 15, 15C, 23, 23B, 26, 37A, 37X, 40, 40M, 43X, M47, 66, 70M, 75, 90, 90B, 97, 101, 103, 104, 109, 111, 113, 115, 590A, 601,603P, 619, 629, 681, 681P, 690, 720A, 789, 905, 930, 934, 935, 960, 961, 962, 962x, 967, 968, 969, 969A
PLB1A, 24A, 24M

Remarks : public car parks are not available inside the Park, people who wish to drive are suggested to use public car-parking facilities at the following locations:

(a)  Queensway Government Offices Carparks via Supreme Court Road

Operation Hours for Public Fee-paying Parking
Mon – Fri7:00pm – 7:00am (next day)
Sat, Sun & PH7:00am – 7:00am (next day)

(b)   Murray Road Multi-storey Carparks

Operation Hours for Public Fee-paying Parking
Mon – Sun & PHOpen 24 hours
Hongkong park layout plan map

Edward Youde Aviary of Hong Kong Park

The Edward Youde Aviary of Hong Kong Park has been open to the public since september 1992. The aviary is named after the late Sir Edward Youde, the Governor of Hong Kong from 1982 to 1986.


The Design Concept

The aviary has raised walkway that allows visitors to walk through the tree canopy, from which they can watch the birds, trees and plants at various elevations and the whole valley from different angles. The walkway is wheelchair accessible.

The valley floor of the aviary is streamed full of trees and shrubs, and adorned with shallow pools and small waterfalls. Water goes down the valleyed flows into a large pool, which is contiguous with a small lake outside the exit of the aviary and offers a nice place for watching waterfowl.

Display panels with graphic and textual illustrations are erected at the entrance of the aviary to explain the structure and ecology of a tropical rain forest, with particular reference to the bird communities in the aviary.

To avoid the presence of unsightly supporting poles inside the aviary, the suspending stainless steel mesh spanning the entire valley are support by four giant arches. The area enclosed by the mesh is approximately 3,000 square metres, with its highest point 30 metres above the wallet floor.

Apart from preserving the rees on site, additional planting has been carried out both inside and outside the aviary. The trees and plants help conceal the steal mesh from view and make the aviary resemble a natural environment.


Display Theme


The birds are indigenous to the Malesian rain forests. Males is a botanical region covering a vast area extending from the Malaya Peninsula and Great Sundas (Sumatra, Borneo and Java), the Philippines, the Indonesian islands to New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago.

These rain forests are home to the tallest rain forest trees on earth and a large number of animal specials including some of the world’s most beautiful birds.

Sadly, these forests have been subject to destruction on a massive scale and are under constant and serious threat. As a result, many bird species are threatened with extinction.

Although it is not possible to recreate a rain forest, we have created a similar habitat to allow visitors to enjoy the sights and sounds of spectacular birds in a natural environment.


Topography and Vegetation

The Edward Youde Aviary, located at the southern corner of Hong Kong Park, is built along a natural valley on the northern slope of Victoria Peak.

Major trees species include Fig, Pond Spice, Tree Cotton, Kapok Tree and Candlenut Tree. A variety of palms and tree ferns are also planted to enrich the forest vegetation. The forest floor is lined with deep leaf litter along with ferns and other typical forest plants that service as ground covers.

The giant trees in rain forest, with huge buttress and stilt roots, take several hundred years to grow and can hardly reach maturity under the climatic conditions of Hong Kong. Nevertheless, they can be seen in the aviary as accurate imitations specially provided on site.


Caged Display Area

As complementary facilities, three display cages are erected on a terrace above the valley to hour hornbills and other bird species from the Malaysian region. Visitors can watch these birds in close proximity.


Educational Programme and Guided Tour Service


Outdoor learning activities for students will be organised during school terms. Interested groups may make prior arrangement with the Park Management Office for the guided tour service.


Bird Species


The aviary features around 600 birds of 75 different species, mostly indigenous to Males, Ground dwelling birds include pheasants, partridges, pigeons and thrushes. Some like the crowned pigeons and golden pheasants are spectacularly beautiful.

The aviary also houses Barbets, which are characteristic birds of the forest in the western part of Males and their repetitive calls are common in that region. Songbirds like Shamas and Yellow-crowned Bulbuls often sing loud, melodious songs against a background of various birds calls, making the aviary resemble a rain forest. There are also other passerine birds such as brightly coloured Fairy Bluebirds, bulbuls and leafbirds.

The aviary is home to a variety of endangered bird species including Bali Mynas, which have beautiful snow-white plumage with bare skin in bright blue around the eyes and a long backward sweeping crest. They often fly between the trees and the raised walkway in the aviary, singing and chattering delightfully.

Although many aboreal doves and pigeons have brightly coloured plumage, they can be difficult to pick out when perching in the tree foliage. On the contrary , Rainbow Lorikeets, Black-capped Lories and Alexandrine Parakeets are attractive to visitors and easy to trace as they often fly around the aviary.


Javas Sparrows are commonly used as fortune telling birds. They are highly socialised, foraging for food in groups. Although small in size, they work together to carry nesting materials that are bigger than their bodies. Their strength and cooperation are indeed amazing.

The Waterfowl Lake is landscaped to form a swamp to accommodate different species of waterfowl. Common Shelducks, an especially attractive species, are often found swimming in the lake leisurely.

It is a pity that not all spectacular species can be housed in the aviary. For example, large hornbills have to be kept separately in the display cages as they prey on smaller birds.


Forsgate Conservatory

The Forsgate Conservatory, which occupies an area of 1,400m2, comprises three sections, namely the Display Plant House, the Dry Plant House and the Humid Plant House. An adjustable environmental control equipment has been installed in the Conservatory to simulate different climatic conditions for the display of plants from arid region and tropical area.

Conservation Corner – Butterfly and Dragonfly

Butterfly – There are about 16,000 recorded species of butterflies in the world and over 200 species can be found in Hong Kong. A Conservation Corner for butterflies rests on the hillside near the artificial lake at the exit of the Conservatory. In where one can find different host plants for butterflies, such as Banana Shrub, Lantana and Red Ixora.

Dragonfly – Hong Kong has a great variety of dragonflies and over 100 species of them have been identified. The slow running water and the quiet lake surface with rich plantation provide an ideal habitat for dragonflies.


Display Plant House

The Display Plant House is designed for staging thematic displays of popular cultivated plants.

Plants of different geniuses and families are displayed at the Display Plant House on a rotation basis. Throughout the year, over 30 groups of these plants are showing including Orchids, Begonias, Anthuriums, Amorphophallus, Bromeliads, Herbs, Aquatic and bulbous Plants. Visitors can appreciate the beauty of various types of plants at the Display Plant House in different seasons during the year.


Humid Plant House

The exhibits in the Humid Plants House comprise a wide variety of Ferns, Palms, Bromeliads, Carnivorous Plants and Jungle Foliage Plants form South Africa, Southeast Asia and America. These exhibits are arranged in zonal groups according to their places of origin. Plant species with ecological features and economic values such as Rubber Tree, Coffee, Cacao, Breadfruit Tree and Vanilla have been specially collected. Blooming and fruiting have been recorded for some of these species.

The Humid Plant House is maintained at a year round temperature ranging from 23 oC to 33 oC through an automatic heating and cooling system.

The automatic fogging system will produce a layer of floating water vapour underneath the glazed cover. The water vapour absorbs  much of the solar energy during evaporation and is discharged through the vents on the rooftop.


Dry Plant House

Cacti, succulents and plants from arid areas are displayed in the Dry Plant House. It is always kept hot and dry with a maximum temperature of 33 oC and 60% relative humidity.

To make the environment of the Dry Plant House more interesting, artificial rockery and mini canyons are constructed to simulate the habitat for plants of arid areas.


Sports Centre:

The air-conditioned Hong Kong Park Sports Centre comprises a 36 metres x 36 metres multi-purposes main arena which can accommodate any of the following facilities: eight badminton courts or, two basketball courts or, two netball courts or two volleyball courts.

Other facilities in the sports centre include one multi-purposes activities room, three Table-tennis tables and one fitness room.


Squash Centre:

The Hong Kong Squash Centre is the largest squash center in the city. It has 18 air-conditioned squash courts. One of the squash courts is a three-sided glass-panelled court with spectator stand for competitions and exhibition matches.

Each year, the Hong Kong Squash Open and many other international tournaments take place in this Center.

There is a light refreshment restaurant providing catering services


Children Playground:

The 1000-square-metre Children’s Playground is located on six platforms at different levels.

The design concept for the playground is not only to engage children in active play, but also to stimulate imagination and creativity of children from pre-school age to school age.

To enable children to play safely, the playground is carpeted with safety matting. For better security, the playground is installed with a closed circuit television system.

Clock Tower:

The 20-metre Clock Tower adjacent to the eastern main entrance becomes a focal point of the park and provides an assembly place for visitors.

Central Garden:

The main entrance of the Central Garden has a gateway with grand column clusters and dancing fountains.

A tree-lined promenade leads into a fountain promenade incorporating a fountain pavilion where one can sit surrounded by water.

Olympic Square:

The Olympic Square measuring 1,100 square metres has a seating capacity for 880 people.

It is designed for staging activities such as sports promotion events, outdoor exhibitions, puppet shows, band concerts and other entertainment events, and serving as a rest place for the public at other times.

Vantage Point:

Vantage Point is a 30-metre tower with 105 steps, which allows visitors to have a panoramic view of the park from the top.

Tai Chi Garden:

Tai Chi Garden consists of colonnades, Fighting SARS Memorial Architectural Scene and a number of courtyards, which can be used for Tai Chi exercise.

Canada Olympic Park
Canada Olympic Park (COP) (formerly known as Paskapoo Ski Hill) is located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The park is operated by WinSport Canada (formerly the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA)). It is currently used both for high performance athletic training and for recreational purposes by the general public. During the 1988 Winter Olympics, Canada Olympic Park was the primary venue for ski jumping, bobsleigh, and luge. WinSport Canada still maintains these facilities for training and competitive purposes. In the winter, the park is also used for downhill skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. In the summer, COP is used for warm-weather sports such as mountain biking (there are 25 km (16 mi) of bike trails) and is also the site of a number of summer festivals.

The park is home to a summer challenge course and zip line. Many summer camps are available.

Major expansions and additions are under way to maintain the park’s status as a training facility to gain back business and stature from the Vancouver 2010 venues.

On December 15, 2010, a phase of the Athletic and Ice Complex (AIC) opened which includes 3 ice surfaces to be used by Hockey Calgary and other groups as well as a restaurant. In 2011 the second phase will open which includes the 4th (Olympic size) ice surface to accommodate 3,800 fans. In 2012, the third phase will open which includes gyms, a public fitness centre, public sport development centre and a high intensity training centre for athletes. The AIC is located in front and to the side of the sliding sports training centre known as the “Ice House”. The track in the Ice house can be seen from the upper floor corridor of the arenas.


WinSport is creating one of the most unique winter sport environments in the world, where athletes of all levels and disciplines will have world class facilities and services to train and maintain an active lifestyle.

A not-for-profit organization, WinSport owns and operates Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, the Bill Warren Training Centre at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore Alberta, and the Beckie Scott High Performance Training Centre on Haig Glacier Alberta. WinSport also funds two-thirds of the operating budget for the Olympic Oval at the University of Calgary. Money spent at WinSport facilities supports not only Canadian high-performance athletes, but introduces thousands of Calgarians to winter sports each year.

Formerly known as the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA), WinSport was founded in 1956 to bid on behalf of Calgary to host an Olympic Winter Games. CODA successfully won the bid from the International Olympic Committee on Sept. 30, 1981, for Calgary to become the host city for the XV Olympic Winter Games in 1988.

Following the Olympics in 1988 and benefitting from endowment funds left for the Games’ legacy, CODA has evolved into a new vision for Canadian winter sport, with the transition to WinSport. Through WinSport, the legacy of the 1988 Games is not only thriving, but leading edge.

The organization built new facilities and operated, maintained and rejuvenated the facilities from the Games and is committed to supporting Canadian athletes for generations to come with the creation of the world’s leading Winter Sports Institute. Learn more about WinSport’s Contribution to Sport.


Winter Activities:

Ski & snowboard

Day TicketReload Online and Save!4 HoursReload Online and Save!2 HoursReload Online and Save!
Adult (18-64)$45.99$40.99$39.99$34.99$34.99$29.99
Youth (6-17)$26.99$22.99$24.99$19.99$19.99$16.99
Pre-School (3-5)$18.99$15.99$16.99$13.99$14.99$9.99
Foot Pass*
Bulk Buy




Welcome to the fastest sport on ice. Our expert pilot will slide you through 10 turns hitting speeds of 100+ km/hr and you will feel the force of up to 4 G’s.

Public skating


Family Skate
Bring the family, grab some friends or get out with your co-workers to enjoy one of Canada’s favourite pastimes! Public drop-in skating is available at the Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport.

Schedule is subject to change – Always check before planning any activities to ensure public skating is scheduled for that day!

Public Skating Admission

Adult (18-64)
Public Skate Drop-in$5.99
Youth (13 -17 years)Public Skate Drop-in$4.99
Child & Senior (12 years and under & 65 years and older)Public Skate Drop-in$2.99
Family (two adults & dependent children)Public Skate Drop-in$14.99*
  • Annual Family Members skate for free year round.
  • *Families are required to present documentation with all family members listed to be eligible for family pricing.
  • Please pay at the Performance Training Centre Guest Services, located on level 1 (main/concourse level) of the Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park.
  • Sundays – please pay at the Garden Café

Public Skating Rules & Regulations

  • Helmets are mandatory for all public skaters at all times. Hockey or All Sport helmets are accepted.
  • No shoes permitted on the ice – only skates.
  • Hockey sticks, pucks, playing hockey, playing high-speed games and figure skating are not permitted during public skating.
  • No strollers, sleds or personal skate aids permitted on the ice.
  • Public skaters must follow skate traffic at all times.
  • No food or beverage is permitted on the ice.

Public Skate Rules and Regulations are implemented to ensure the health and safety of all skaters. If you have any concerns regarding your safety or others’ please notify Ice Patrol or WinSport staff.


Public luge


Experience this sliding sport as you wind through 5 twists in just 40 seconds!


Cross Country



Summer Activities:

Mountain bike



Full Day TicketRELOAD4 Hour TicketRELOAD
Adult (18-64)$26.99$23.99$23.99$20.99
Child/Teen/Senior (4 – 17 & 65+)$21.99$18.99$18.99$15.99
Bulk Buy Rate (12+)

Summer bobsleigh


Our expert pilot will slide you through 10 turns hitting speeds of 80+ km/hr and you will feel the force of over 2 G’s. 

Individual  $74.99Bulk Rate (12+)  $64.99


Mini golf



Pre-school $6.99Youth (6-17) & Senior  $9.99Adult $10.99Family $27.99Bulk Rate (12+) $8.99

Weekends only – 10:00am – 5:00pm*
*Please note these hours of operation may change due to weather conditions. Please double check our hours before you arrive!



Skyline luge


Welcome to Skyline Luge Calgary

Skyline Luge is the most exhilarating, must-do activity in Canada.

Looking for Calgary attractions with a unique twist? Skyline Luge Calgary is a fun, fast-paced family activity that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy. It is a ‘must do’ activity during summer in Calgary, Canada!

The Luge is a unique wheeled gravity ride that provides riders full control over their descent on a purpose built track. Experience 1.8 kilometres (5905 feet) of twists and turns dropping over 100 metres (328 feet) in its course. It’s the world’s longest Luge track yet!

Originating in New Zealand in 1985, Skyline’s Luge is one of the most thrilling Calgary attractions, and has been enjoyed by millions of people from around the globe.

The summer Skyline Calgary Luge track runs alongside the famous Winsport Olympic Luge track and is Calgary’s favourite family attraction for all ages and abilities.





Our Zipline course consists of three lines and will get your adrenaline pumping as you soar through the air and experience spectacular views of Calgary.

Know Before You Go »
All Three Lines  $69.99Trainer & Plaza Lines  $39.99Trainer Line  $10.99

Trainer ZiplineThis is where you will learn how to ride the Zipline. Participants must be 6 years of age or older.
Plaza ZiplineThe final of 3 ziplines, here you will hit speeds of up to 80km/hr. Participants must be between 50 and 250 lbs.
Monster ZiplineNorth America’s fastest Zipline at 120km/hr starts at Calgary’s highest vantage point, the ski jump tower. Experience a zipline that is 500 metres long with a vertical drop of more than 100 metres. Participants must be between 70 and 250 lbs.


Activity Centre


The Activity Centre is open to the public on weekends all summer. Kids can play on Eurobungee trampolines, a spiderweb climbing apparatus, and a rock climbing wall.
Max weight for the activities is 150lbs. Visit Guest Services at the Frank King Day Lodge to pay your daily admission. The Activity Centre is also a great place to host a birthday party!
Hours of operation: Weekends 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.


Whether it’s your first time on the hill or you’re looking to improve your skills, we’re excited to have some fun in the snow with you! We want to make sure your lessons go as smoothly as possible, so we’ve created some tips below that will ensure you have an enjoyable day on the hill!


There’s nothing worse than having to rush to a ski lesson and then not know where to register and get fitted for your equipment. So, we’ve created some tips below that will get you to the right place at the right time – stress-free.

Please arrive to the Frank King Day Lodge (see Snow School Meeting Spot Map). If you’re renting equipment, please arrive 1 hour prior to your lesson time and bring your completed rental waiver. Please be prepared to indicate your weight, height and shoe size so our team can fit you with the appropriate equipment. If you’re bringing your own equipment, please arrive 30 minutes prior to your lesson time. Parking is free.


  1. Enter the Frank King Day Lodge and go directly to the Rental Shop
  2. Show your program confirmation to the WinSport Rental Shop staff to receive your equipment (boots, helmet, and snowboard or skis and poles).
  3. After getting geared up, go outside to your lesson meeting spot where you’ll meet your instructor and receive your lift ticket. Click here to view the Snow School Meeting Spot Map. Please arrive at the meeting spot 15 minutes prior to lesson.


  1. Go directly to your lesson meeting spot where you’ll meet your instructor and receive your lift ticket. Click here to view the Snow School Meeting Spot Map. Please arrive at the meeting spot 15 minutes prior to your lesson.

To ensure everybody on the hill is able to ski and snowboard in a fun and safe manner, there are some guidelines we ask all of our visitors to follow. Due to limited space and for the safety of your child, we ask that parents please respect the parent free zones. Parents can buy a 2-hour lift ticket to ski or ride while your child is in their lesson at Guest Services located in the Frank King Day Lodge.

Helmets designed for alpine sports are mandatory for all lesson and program participants and terrain park users including adults. Helmets are available to rent or purchase on site.

The Royal Parks
About the Parks:

Millions of Londoners and tourists visit the eight Royal Parks for free each year. The 5,000 acres of historic parkland provide unparalleled opportunities for enjoyment, exploration and healthy living in the heart of the capital. A simple walk or a picnic in the park, sport, top quality entertainment, community and education projects – all waiting for you.

If it’s history and architecture you’re after, the parks have hundreds of buildings, statues, and memorials, giving a fascinating insight into London’s heritage.

The Royal Parks manages these spaces and almost everything in them.



Every year millions of Londoners and tourists visit Hyde Park, one of the capital’s eight Royal Parks.

Hyde Park covers 350 acres and is home to a number of famous landmarks including the Serpentine Lake, Speakers’€™ Corner and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.

The park also offers various recreational activities including open water swimming, boating, cycling, tennis and horse riding.

0300 061 2000
05:00 – 00:00
W2 2UH


Every year millions of Londoners and tourists visit Kensington Gardens, one of the capital’s eight Royal Parks. Kensington Palace, the Italian Gardens, Albert Memorial, Peter Pan Statue and the Serpentine Galleries are all located within its 265 acres.

Planted with formal avenues of magnificent trees and ornamental flower beds, the gardens are also home to the popular Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground.

0300 061 2000
06:00 – 18:00
W2 2UH


Every year millions of Londoners and tourists visit Richmond Park, the largest of the capital’s eight Royal Parks and the biggest enclosed space in London.

The park is a National Nature Reserve, London’s largest Site of Special Scientific Interest and a European Special Area of Conservation.

It is home to the beautiful Isabella Plantation, Pembroke Lodge and herds of Red and Fallow deer.

0300 061 2200
07:30 – 17:45
Holly Lodge, TW10 5HS


Every year millions of Londoners and tourists visit Bushy Park, the second largest of the capital’s eight Royal Parks.

Located near Hampton Court Palace, Bushy Park’s mixture of woods, gardens, ponds and grassland makes it a fantastic place to enjoy wildlife with roaming herds of Red and Fallow Deer.

The park is also home to the famous Chestnut Avenue, a formal Baroque water garden and the beautiful Diana Fountain.

0300 061 2250
06:30 – 19:00
The Stockyard, TW12 2EJ


Every year millions of Londoners and tourists visit St James’s Park, the oldest of the capital’s eight Royal Parks.

The park includes The Mall and Horse Guards Parade and is at the heart of ceremonial London, providing the setting for spectacular pageants including the annual Trooping the Colour.

0300 061 2350
05:00 – 00:00


Every year millions of Londoners and tourists visit The Green Park, the smallest of the capital’s eight Royal Parks.

Comprising just over 40 acres of mature trees and grassland next to Buckingham Palace, the peaceful triangle between Piccadilly and Constitution Hill offers a popular location for picnics and sunbathing in fine weather.

0300 061 2350
05:00 – 00:00


The Regent’s Park, designed by John Nash, covers 395 acres and includes Queen Mary’s Gardens which features more than 12,000 roses of 400 varieties, as well as the gloriously restored William Andrews Nesfield’s Avenue Gardens.

With excellent sports facilities spanning nearly 100 acres it includes the largest outdoor sports area in central London.

The park also houses the Open Air Theatre, London Zoo, Primrose Hill, the country’s largest free to access waterfowl collection and 100 species of wild bird.

0300 061 2300
05:00 – 19:00


Every year millions of Londoners and tourists visit Greenwich Park, one of the capital’s eight Royal Parks.

Greenwich Park hosts the Prime Meridian Line and Royal Observatory as well as being part of the Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Site which is home to The National Maritime Museum and Old Royal Naval College.

The most historic of all Royal Parks, Greenwich Park dates back to Roman times and was enclosed in 1433. From the statue of General Wolfe the park offers imperious views across the River Thames all the way to St. Pauls Cathedral

0300 061 2380
06:00 – 19:00
SE10 8QY
California Department of Parks and Recreation

To provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation.

California Department of Parks and Recreation manages 280 park units, which contain the finest and most diverse collection of natural, cultural, and recreational resources to be found within California. These treasures are as diverse as California: From the last stands of primeval redwood forests to vast expanses of fragile desert; from the lofty Sierra Nevada to the broad sandy beaches of our southern coast; and from the opulence of Hearst Castle to the vestiges of colonial Russia.

California State Parks contains the largest and most diverse natural and cultural heritage holdings of any state agency in the nation. The State Park System includes State Parks, State Natural Reserves, State Historic Parks, State Historic Monuments, State beaches, State Recreation Areas, State Vehicular Recreation Areas, State Seashores and State Marine Parks. Within the system are Natural and Cultural Preserves, lakes and reservoirs, coastal beaches, historic homes, Spanish era adobe buildings, lighthouses, ghost towns, museums, visitor centers, conference centers, and off-highway vehicle recreation areas.  Together, State Park System lands protect and preserve an unparalleled collection of culturally and environmentally sensitive structures and habitats, threatened plant and animal species, ancient Native American sites, historic structures and artifacts… the best of California’s natural and cultural history.

With over 340 miles of coastline, 970 miles of lake and river frontage, 15,000 campsites and 4,500 miles of trails, the State Park System provides wonderful recreational, educational, and inspirational opportunities for over 67 million visitors a year.


One of the core values at California State Parks is cultural diversity and accessibility. We believe in the right of all Californians, including persons with disabilities, to have access to recreational opportunities, and enjoy the cultural, historic, and natural resources found in our state parks.

Planning your visit

California State parks can be quite different from commercial or even city or county recreational facilities. State Parks are often created around special, sometimes remote, natural or cultural resources that allow us to escape our everyday lives and refresh our spirits.  Rustic campgrounds, winding trails occasionally invaded by tree roots, isolated beaches with limited amenities, and wind-whipped ghost towns challenge our spirit of adventure. We welcome all who seek the diverse adventures our parks offer. Please be realistic about your needs, and plan ahead to help ensure an enjoyable visit.

Accessible features in California State Parks

Accessibility improvements are ongoing at California State Parks.  Many of our park units have facilities such as restrooms, campsites, and visitor centers that are designated accessible.  In some cases, these facilities were accessible when constructed but may not meet all current building and access codes.  Each park unit’s accessible features web page includes descriptions of the accessible facilities and explains deviations from the most current accessible standards.

Death Valley national park


It sounds like a place to avoid, but don’t let the ominous name scare you away. Most of the year, this vast and rugged expanse of east Californian desert is brutally hot, but visit in winter or early spring (though even in the dead of winter, midday temperatures can hit 30C) and you’ll find a surprisingly beautiful and vibrant place. First-time visitors are often awestruck by the desert’s vivid colours. For thousands of years, the people of the Timbisha tribe thrived here, migrating seasonally between the valley floor and more fertile mountains. The name Death Valley was bestowed in 1849 by a band of lost California-bound gold rushers, one of whom did actually die while trying to cross it. The legend doesn’t seem to deter runners of the Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile race across the vast valley held in mid-July.

The park has nine campsites and several air-conditioned lodges, including the historic Furnace Creek Inn (doubles from $365)and the Panamint Springs resort(doubles from $79, quadruples $94).

Top tip: One of the best places to experience Death Valley in all its multicoloured glory is Zabriskie Point, at sunrise or sunset. This easily accessible viewing point is only a short walk from a large parking area.
Death Valley links history, lodging, Badwater Ultramarathon

Yosemite national park


With its stunning glacier-sculpted geology, abundant wildlife and world-class recreational opportunities, Yosemite, 200 miles east of San Francisco, is one of the crown jewels of America’s national park system. Yosemite’s granite wonderland was carved by massive glaciers around three million years ago, when ice covered all but the highest peaks in the Sierra Nevada.

Today, Yosemite valley is known for fantastic hiking, rafting, fishing and wildlife watching, not to mention being a mecca for big-wall rock climbing. A year-round destination, Yosemite is resplendent but often crowded in the summer; winter transforms the park into a quiet snowy paradise. Many park roads and trails are closed or inaccessible from mid-November until late spring, but Yosemite valley stays open year-round for snowshoeing, cross-country and backcountry skiing.

Yosemite is best explored over at least several days. Overnight accommodation ranges from wilderness camping to cabins to the luxurious Ahwahnee Hotel, with doubles from $360 a night.

Top tips Yosemite’s towering granite walls are too tall to be seen through a car windshield; this park is best experienced on foot. The one-mile Glacier Point and 1½-mile Tuolumne Meadow trails offer short but spectacular strolls, or tackle the more strenuous 7.2-mile walk to the top of Yosemite Falls. The harrowing 14-mile hike up Half Dome requires clinging to cables bolted into the rock face, as well as luck in the much-coveted permit lottery.

Point Reyes national seashore


California is known for its beautiful beaches, but those preferring seals and solitude to bikini babes and boardwalks should head to Point Reyes national seashore, 37 miles north of San Francisco. Protected in 1962 to save the area from residential development, the peninsula is one of California’s few wild beaches. The 180-square-mile park is nearly cut off from the mainland by Tomales Bay, an elongated body of water that sits in the rift zone created by the San Andreas fault.

Headlands and sea cliffs provide a sanctuary for wildlife, including raptors and nesting sea birds. A large herd of tule elk – a subspecies that once roamed throughout California – grazes in the northern highlands of the peninsula. Point Reyes is popular year-round, but especially from late December to mid-March, when as many as 20,000 grey whales migrate past the peninsula from their Alaskan feeding grounds to their breeding grounds off Baja California, in the longest migration undertaken by any mammal.

Point Reyes is only an hour north of San Francisco (as long as traffic is moving at a reasonable clip over the Golden Gate bridge), and the park offers backcountry and boat-in camping. Permits and a willingness to rough it are required; no car or RV camping is available. Hiking trails abound: short ones (less than a mile) include the Earthquake trail, which straddles the San Andreas fault, and the Kule Loklo trail, which takes in a restored coastal Miwok Native American village. Those with more time and energy can set off on the US’s longest hike, the 6,800-mile American Discovery Trail, from Point Reyes all the way east to the Atlantic Ocean.

Top tips The only indoor lodging in the park is at the Point Reyes Youth Hostel, which offers dorm beds ($25) and private rooms (from $82, sleep up to five) to travellers of all ages. Reservations highly recommended.

Joshua Tree national park


The park was named after the otherworldly trees that dot the landscape – actually an unusually tall species of yucca – but the real stars here are the rock formations: jumbled piles of outsize boulders that glitter with crystals in the southern Californian sun. Rock climbers come from all over the world to scale these boulders, but you don’t have to be a pro to have a blast scrambling around this pink granite jungle gym.

The other stars of Joshua Tree are the stars themselves: with no humidity and skies devoid of light pollution, the Milky Way is overwhelmingly vivid. For an out-of-this-world experience, try scheduling your trip during a meteor shower, such as the Orionids in October, the Leonids in November, or the Geminids in December. Summers in the Mojave Desert are sweltering, but the weather in early spring, late fall and winter is usually delightful.

There are nine campsites scattered through the park. Only two – Black Rock and Cottonwood – provide running water, and none offers an RV hookup. The park is 125 miles east of Los Angeles, near the desert oases of Twenty-nine Palms and Palm Springs, which offer air-conditioned accommodations ranging from cheap dives to upscale hotels.

Top tips Keep an eye out for bighorned sheep on the 7.2-mile round trip trail to the Lost Palms Oasis, a strenuous but rewarding hike that follows an ancient Native American footpath to a cool oasis hidden deep in a boulder canyon.

Lassen Volcanic national park


Yellowstone national park in Wyoming is world-famous for volcanic features such as geysers, fumaroles and mud springs, but  northern California boasts its very own version: Lassen Volcanic national park, 50 miles east of Redding.

The park is capped by 10,462-foot Lassen Peak, the world’s largest volcanic dome. Lassen’s 1915 blast makes it one of only two volcanoes to have erupted in the continental US in the 20th century (the other being Washington’s Mount Saint Helens in 1980). After the eruption, which laid waste to vast swaths of surrounding land, Lassen Volcanic national park was created to preserve the devastated areas for future observation and study. Visiting the area now, nearly 100 years later, is a dramatic lesson in the Earth’s own healing powers; it still bears vast scars of hardened lava, but between the rocks, the flora and fauna are flourishing.

In the summer, Lassen offers over 150 miles of hiking trails to a wide range of volcanic features such as Sulphur Works and Bumpass Hell, the park’s largest hydrothermal feature. Despite all the underground heat, Lassen is also known for receiving epic snowfalls – sometimes 900 inches in one season! – that turn the park into a winter wonderland popular with snowshoers, cross-country and backcountry skiers. Lassen has eight seasonal campsites and rustic cabins are available at Manzanita Lake from May to October.

TOP TIP Sign up for a photography, geology or birding workshop through the non-profit Lassen Association’s Field Seminar Program at Lassen national park.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks


California has a lot of parks but you can cross two off your list at once by visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon, just south-east of Yosemite. They are two distinct parks, but are co-managed and share a border and an entrance fee ($5 a head). Both offer lodges and campsites, but keep in mind that only a very small fraction of these remote and rugged parks are accessible by road. To really see them, you’ll need to take a hike.

Sequoia is home to the largest tree in the world, by volume. Redwoods are taller, but giant sequoias win for sheer mass: the General Sherman’s trunk has a volume of 1,487 cubic metres and is estimated to weigh over 2,000 tonnes. Sequoia also boasts 4,421m Mount Whitney, the high point of the John Muir Trail, which runs through Sequoia and Kings Canyon on its way up to Yosemite.

Kings Canyon national park protects the headwaters of the south and middle forks of the Kings river and the south fork of the San Joaquin river, two of the most picturesque and pristine rivers in California. The south fork section of Kings river – known as Kings Canyon, one of the deepest in the country, dropping down more than 2,500m – was carved out of solid granite by glaciers during the last ice age.

TOP TIP The Giant Forest in Sequoia national park is home to five of the 10 largest trees in the world, including the General Sherman. Pay your respects to these 3,500-year old sentinels along the 40 miles of trails that weave through the grove

Pinnacles national park


Until recently, these dramatic cliffs 40 miles southeast of Salinas were known as Pinnacles National Monument, but in January 2013 they became the nation’s newest national park. The massive spires and sheer canyons are actually the remains of an ancient volcano that was split in two by the San Andreas Fault and hauled 150 miles from its original location. The spectacular walls attract rock climbers as well as bats, falcons and one of the rarest birds in the world: the California condor . A type of vulture and the largest bird in North America, it became extinct in the wild in 1987 due to poaching, poisoning and habitat destruction. Captive breeding programmes have helped reintroduce dozens of the big black birds into parks in Arizona, Utah and California. At the last count, in 2012, this park was home to 32 wild condors.

Pinnacles has one campsite on the east side of the park, which is more developed than the western entrance. Roads run from the east and the west, but don’t connect in the middle, which helps keep the heart of Pinnacles wild.

TOP TIP Don’t miss Pinnacle’s unique talus caves, Bear Gulch in the east and Balconies Cave in the west. They formed when steep, narrow canyons filled with boulders, leaving passages between the rocks. The caves are home to colonies of Towson’s big-eared bats and may be closed during pupping season or after rains due to high water.

Devils Postpile national monument


The Devils Postpile, near Mammoth Lakes on the east side of Yosemite, looks as if it might have been created by some satanic sculptor, but really it’s just one of the world’s best examples of columnar basalt, a similar geological feature to the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland. The Postpile’s 18m columns were created when a mass of basaltic lava cooled at a relatively uniform rate. As the lava cooled and contracted, it split along joints into columns, most of which are pentagonal or hexagonal, with a few three, four, and seven-sided columns scattered throughout.

The half-mile walk from the campsite to the base of the Postpile is easy and the hike to the top takes only about 15 minutes of moderate uphill hiking. The John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails also pass through, and many through-hikers use the park as a place to rest and refuel before continuing to Canada or Mexico.

TOP TIP Definitely plan to put the extra effort into climbing to the top of the Postpile. The hike is only moderately difficult and is the best way to see the polygons end-on.

King Range national conservation area


Look at a map of California and you’ll see that Highways 1 and 101 run along the entire coast, except for a 65-mile slice between Eureka and Rockport known as the Lost Coast. This section, protected by the King Range national conservation area, is the longest stretch of wild beach in California.

Since there are no roads into the Lost Coast, you have to walk to see it. A potholed gravel road runs to a campsite at the mouth of the Mattole river and from there you can wander south down the coast for 25 miles before you come to the next road, at Shelter Cove. The hike is mostly flat, but walking on sand with a pack is tiring and you’ll need tide charts to help navigate past the towering headlands. Bear canisters are required for all food, not just because of the bears, but also the seagulls, which will rob you of every last crumb.

TOP TIP The six-and-a-half-mile round trip trek from the Mattole river campsite to the elegant ruins of the Punta Gorda Lighthouse, built in 1912 and decommissioned in 1951, might be one of the most beautiful beach walks in the world. This area is also popular with surfers, though you’ll definitely need a wetsuit in these rough, cold waters.

Redwood national and state parks


If you’ve been to Sequoia, you’ve already seen the largest trees in the world, but the Redwood national and state parks in northern California boast the tallest trees, including 115.7m Hyperion, the world’s tallest living tree. The exact location of Hyperion is a closely guarded secret, but standing at the base of any one of these giants is a truly humbling experience.

Giant redwoods once covered more than 5,000 square miles of coastal California, but as much as 96% of all old-growth redwoods were logged between 1850 and 1920, a staggering statistic that becomes even more tragic when you learn that redwoods are practically immortal and can live for thousands of years. Today, nearly half all remaining redwoods are found in these adjoining national and state parks.

Four developed campsites are scattered through the parks, but no indoor accommodation is available inside the park boundaries. Quaint lodgings can be found in the nearby small towns of Klamath, Requa and Orrick, with larger hotels in Crescent City, Arcata and Eureka.

TOP TIP Put a crick in your neck on the easy walking trails through the Ladybird Johnson Grove trail and Tall Trees Grove trail in the southern portion of Redwood national park.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park


This park’s combo name, pairing the name of famed Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza, who crossed this desert in 1774, and the Spanish word for sheep (“borrego”)—referring to the region’s native bighorn sheep, this desert preserve—California’s largest state park—protects more than 600,000 acres/242,811 hectares of badlands, palm oases, slot canyons, and cactus-studded hills. A geology lesson in making, still being altered by erosion and flash floods, it’s a wild and remote place, with much of it accessed via primitive roads, or on foot. (Consider renting a 4WD with high clearance for best access.) But the payoff is stunning stillness and unforgettable beauty.

Start your trip just northwest of Borrego Springs at the park’s visitor center, built underground for cooling efficiency, to learn more about this fascinating park, and to get tips on where to go. Bighorn sheep are often spotted on nearby trails to Palm Canyon.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park


Watch a waterfall tumble to the beach

Want a short hike with a huge reward? The ½-mile/1-km round-trip Waterfall Overlook Trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park could be the biggest-bang-for-not-much-work hike on the planet. The almost flat stroll ends an oceanfront overlook with flawless views of McWay Falls, a favorite spot of Big Sur pioneer woman Julia Pfeiffer Burns, for whom the park is named. Let’s just say Julia had good taste. The plume of water drops some 80 feet/24 meters from the top of a granite cliff to a sandy cove below (not even footprints on the sand mar the perfection, as this beach is closed to the public).

If you’re up for more of a leg stretch, also hike the nearby Ewoldsen Trail, a 2-mile/3-km loop that dips and climbs through old-growth redwood and coastal chaparral, with the payoff of your 1,600-foot/488-meter elevation gain being nonstop oh-my-gosh views.

Empire Mine State Historic Park


Tour a Gold Rush mansion then go underground

Get a one-two punch of experiences with a visit to this remarkable site in Grass Valley, roughly 60 miles/92 kilometers northeast of Sacramento. First, spend time in the Visitor Center to learn about one of California’s oldest, largest, deepest, longest, and richest gold mines, where, in the course of a century, 5.6 million ounces/159 million grams of gold were mined—enough to fill a box 7 feet/3 meters long, 7 feet/3 meters high, and 7 feet/3 meters deep by the time the mine shut down in 1956. To get a sense of the size of the mine, see the scale model representing the mine’s 5-square-mile/13-square-km network, then walk outside to visit the entrance of the actual shaft—a tiny peak into a staggering underground maze of 367 miles/591 kilometers.

Now shift gears—mentally and physically—with a walk through the grounds of William Bowers Bourn Jr., who took over management of the mine in 1879. Bourn Cottage—a humble name for this magnificent country estate, where no expense was spared to create a two-story stone citadel patterned after the noble estates of 19th century England, complete with redwood interiors, and leaded-glass windows.

Guided tours are offered May through September.  The Mine Yard Tour sheds light on the rough lives of the miners who worked here. Get the flip side on the Cottage Grounds Tour, which includes a visit to the sumptuous Bourn Cottage.

Marshall Gold Discovery


See where the rush for gold started

Driving the sleepy stretch of winding Highway 49 between Auburn and Placerville, it’s hard to believe the region was the booming heart of one of the most significant events in California history. Here, in a stretch of the snowmelt-fed American River that slides past the don’t-blink town of Coloma, a sawmill employee named James Marshall first discovered glints of the precious metal in the river’s silt. The 1849 Gold Rush was on.

Coloma mushroomed into a town with some 10,000 people, and up went a schoolhouse, a general store, and a tin-roofed post office. These and other historic buildings are now protected as part of Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. There’s an interesting Gold Discovery Museum, and kids can give gold-panning a try. Follow leafy trails along the river to find a shady picnic spot. Stick around for supper; dinners at Café Mahjaic, housed in an 1855 brick building in the even tinier nearby town of Lotus, are a wonder, with local ingredients shining in dishes such as free-range chicken roasted with shallots, bacon, and crimini mushrooms.



Tour the eerie remnants of a former boomtown

There’s something eerily appropriate about bumping down the dusty desert road that winds the final few miles into Bodie State Historic Park. Round the final bend in the careworn road, drive by the lonely graveyard on the sagebrush-dotted hill on the southwest side of town, and look down upon the tattered remnants of a forgotten time, and a nearly forgotten town. Back in the late 1800s, Bodie was a booming mining community with nearly 10,000 residents. Over time, the townsfolk began to fade away with the gold, and roughly a half-century ago, the final residents packed up and left Bodie, leaving the buildings alone and at the mercy of the dry desert winds.

Today, you can walk the dusty, silent streets of this fascinating ghost town, with shops, hotels, and simple homes carefully preserved to look as they did when Bodie ceased to be. Look for period images on newspapers stuffed into the walls as makeshift insulation. Old trucks and gas pumps, a weathered wood church, and that lonely cemetery paint a picture of life—and death—in this remote corner of California’s high desert.

Be sure to bring food; there are no concessions in the park (though there is potable water). A bookstore is well stocked with interesting information, and the self-guided walking tour is well worth doing.

Emerald Bay State Park


By foot or by boat, visit Lake Tahoe’s exquisite bay

Look down on this astounding bay and you can see why Mark Twain dubbed Lake Tahoe “the fairest picture the whole earth affords.” While the main lake is as blue as a topaz, a color created by Tahoe’s remarkable clarity and depth, this somewhat shallower bay on the lake’s west shore takes on a startling and beautiful blue-green, made all the more striking by the perfect dot of tiny Fannette Island—the only islet in Lake Tahoe—right in the middle of the bay. From large pullout areas off Highway 89, see if you can spot the ruins of a tiny stone teahouse perched on the top of the island. The teahouse, and the 38-room Scandinavian-style stone castle known as Vikingsholm that’s built on the nearby shore, were constructed by Lora Knight, an extraordinary woman who married into extreme wealth, then used her money to educate young people who could otherwise not afford it. Learn about her and tour her richly detailed, hand-built home, a replica of a 9th-century Scandinavian castle, on tours offered several times daily, late-May to Labor Day—it’s definitely worth the walk down from the parking lot.

“Look down on this astounding bay and you can see why Mark Twain dubbed Lake Tahoe ‘the fairest picture the whole earth affords.'”

You can also access Emerald Bay on the popular and easy Rubicon Trail, which follows the edge of the lake from D.L. Bliss State Park 4 miles/6 kilometers south to the bay. Another short hike with a big reward is the 1-mile/2-km trail that starts across the highway from Emerald Bay and leads up to the icy cascades of Eagle Falls and a panoramic view of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe. Cruises, such as the Tahoe Queen paddle wheeler, also visit Emerald Bay; you can also use it as a great destination if you rent a boat at South Shore. For a big splurge, book a private yacht cruise with Lake Tahoe Boat Rides; along the way, the captain sheds light on the region’s history.

Washington Park Bonaire


The mission of the park is:

To protect and manage its natural, cultural and historical resources, while allowing ecologically sustainable use for the benefit of future generations.

The Goals are to:

  • Protect and restore (if necessary) the representative environment and landscape of the South Caribbean region found inside the park, as well as its ecosystems, in order to achieve and maintain the balance and continuity of its evolutionary and ecological processes.
  • Protect the island’s native genetic diversity and biodiversity in the current ecosystems. Particularly, protect and restore (if necessary) the species that are in danger of extinction or are under special protective status.
  • Provide an area with optimal conditions for environmentally oriented scientific research.
  • Generate, rescue and spread scientific and historical knowledge that promotes the use of the island resources in a sustainable way.
  • Allow and promote exclusively sustainable use and development of the ecosystems, its elements, and the historical resources, mainly for the benefit of all who live and visit Bonaire.


Washington Slagbaai National Park – HISTORY

On September 1, 1868, the Government of the Colony of Curaçao sold the island of Bonaire in parcels by public auction. The northwestern part of Bonaire was called Slagbaai and was bought by Moises Jesurun and John, August, and Casper Neuman. In the years that followed the property changed hands a number of times. Finally, in 1920, the northern half of Slagbaai was sold to the brothers Julio and Gijsberto Herrera. They named their newly acquired property “America”.

They made a new entrance, which still functions today as the Visitor Center. A house was built for the plantation supervisor, and a small store with an adjoining office was added. This area became the most important part of the plantation. It was here that one applied for work, here that workers received their wages – which consisted primarily of provisions and goods – and here that they brought disputes to be settled. As a result, the area became known as the capital of America – Washington.

The Washington and Slagbaai plantations supplied salt, charcoal, aloe extract, divi-divi pods, and goats for export to Curaçao and Europe. In a good year 3,000 or more goats would be shipped to Curaçao from the bay known as Playa Funchi.

Divi-divi pods were used in leather tanning, in Holland and elsewhere in Europe. Since the divi-divi pods of Bonaire were superior to those of other sources, merchants would pay a high price for the pods from Bonaire. Unscrupulous traders began importing divi-divi pods from South America to Curaçao and selling them as Bonaire pods at the market price that the pods of Bonaire received! To protect Bonaire’s divi-divi product, a Certification of Origin for divi-divi pods was introduced, verifying the authenticity of Bonaire pods. This did much to end the corrupt practice of falsifying divi pod origins.

Aloe vera was harvested after the rainy season, when the leaves had the most juice. The workers were almost exclusively women from Rincon. They would camp on the site for a week in huts made from cactus wood, and go home on Fridays for the weekend.

Over the years various members of the Herrera family owned various parts of Washington. Finally, in 1931, possession of the entire property was obtained by Julio Caesar “Boy” Herrera, who worked on improving the plantation he had loved his entire life.


In 1967, Boy Herrera became ill. Fearing that his heirs would sell this natural area to developers who were eying Bonaire, he negotiated with the government to purchase the property upon his death. He did so with the express condition that it be left undeveloped, for the enjoyment of the people. As a result, on May 9th, 1969, National Park Washington opened its gates to the public. It was the first nature sanctuary in the Netherlands Antilles.


In 1966, the Netherlands first considered securing the remaining section of the Slagbaai plantation, and the adjoining property called Brasil. This was accomplished in 1977. In 1979 the Washington Slagbaai National Park was officially inaugurated.

The management of this entire area was entrusted to STINAPA N.A. a Dutch acronym, which means Stichting Nationale Parken Nederlandse Antillen.

You are welcome to stop in at the Visitor Center at the entrance of the Washington Slagbaai National Park to learn more about the colourful history of the Park.


Washington Slagbaai National Park – ACTIVITIES

A wide scope of recreational and educational activities is available in Washington-Slagbaai National Park. There is something for everyone regardless of their age and desired level of adventure.

A trip though the Park will be more comfortable for those who follow our recommendations:

  • Be sure to have plenty of drinking water for your trip into the Park. You’ll be grateful for snacks, too, especially fruit, and ice – but water is a necessity.
  • Be sure to apply sunscreen. Don’t forget the back of your neck, your lips, nose, and ears, and the top of your head if your hair is thin. Even if you don’t leave your car, put sunscreen on your arms and any other parts of you that are in the sun.
  • Use sunglasses and a hat or visor.

The activities you can engage in are:

  • Boating


  • Kitesurfing


  • Sailing


  • Fishing


  • Snorkeling & swimming


  • Windsurfing


  • Other Water Sports














Horseback Riding


Rappelling and Rock Climbing


Washington Slagbaai National Park – GEOLOGY

Most of the older rock formations of Bonaire developed underwater, in times when Bonaire was not yet an island (90-100 million years ago). After the emergence of these formations (60-70 million years ago) two important events started to happen:

1. The rocks became exposed to erosion, the debris was carried off by rain water and so hills, valleys and plains developed;
2. Around the island, coral started to grow, waves attacked the shores and the wind accumulated (coral) sand, as a consequence of which, dunes developed. In some places the dunes moved far inland.

At Washington Slagbaai National Park both phenomena may be observed.

When visiting Bonaire, one can see two vastly different types of hard rock that tell us about the origin and subsequent history of our island. We observe dark rocks, either unstratified or thinly laminated, in the last case the strata are tilted, and dip 35 to 40 degrees down to the Northeast. Very different are yellowish or white limestone deposits in subhorizontal position. The geologists could prove that the dark rocks date back from the Cretaceous period, that ended 65 millions years ago. The light-coloured limestones are much younger, their formation started only about 5 million years ago.

Juwa Pass
Juwa Pass

Most rocks that we find in the Park have not been seen silently deposited as settling dust on the dark ocean floor. The tops of the Brandaris (240m.), Ceru’i Mangel (149 m.) and other hills consist of dark rock with white feldspar crystals. These rocks show a peculiar way of prismatic columnar jointing; there is no stratification at all. Such type of stones constitute the bulk of Bonaire’s Cretaceous backbone. They certainly are ancient volcanic; chilled lavas, petrified tuffs. The rounded pillows in which lava flows are that are seen on Bonaire betray that there must have been a series of submarine volcanoes.

Younger strata are not tilted, we find them at most places along the coast and a close look tells us that these creamy-white limestones originated as reefs. We find branching coral and (chalky white) coralline algae that prove this contention. As nearly all organisms found petrified in these reefs are still existing, their age can not be great. Radio-carbon gives an age of 110.000 years. In those times the sea stood about 15 meters higher than it does now. The reef has been preserved as a terrace that fringes the island’s coastlines. At some places even two or three terraces are present, since the sea has known very different levels, depending whether the polar ice caps retained more of less rainpour.

Salina Matijs
Saliña Matijs

Most of the rivulets (temporary water streams) do not empty directly into the sea. Some empty into island bays or saliñas, salt lakes, the bottoms of which have sometimes partly dried up (e.g. Saliña Matijs and Boca Bartol). These bays are drowned valleys. When, in former times, the sea level was lower than at present, the rivers could erode their valleys to a lower level than the present sea level. When the water rose, the lower part of the valleys became submerged. Still later the mouth was blocked by walls of coral shingle put there by the surf. The well known Goto and Slagbaai owe their existence to such a process.


Washington Slagbaai National Park – FLORA

KibrahachaIf you visit Bonaire during the rainy season, you will be amazed by how green the island look, but if you come during the dry season learning and observing the different survival strategies of our flora in order to survive in this harsh environment can still amaze you. If you are very lucky, you will visit us at the very end of the dry season and observe the incredible bloom of leaves and flowers after just one tropical shower.

We will explain below, in more detail, some of these adaptations for survival, but as a general rule, our vegetation has to do in three months what most plants do in one year (grow leaves, flowers and seeds) and then “die” for the rest of the year.


As the annual rainfall on Bonaire amounts to only about 532 mm per year, plant-growth is adapted to this very unfavorable condition. Also, there are only one or two months during the year in which rainfall exceeds evaporation, consequently the vegetation suffers from drought the greatest part of their life. These conditions are expressed in the high number of annuals (plants that complete their life-cycle within the three months of the rainy season).

The flora comprises about 340 species, it is rather peculiar that in Bonaire many of the plant families (about 40%) are represented by a single species only. The plant life resembles the flora of the Caribbean islands, rather than that of the northern continental South America.

Some characteristics associated with a dry environment are:

1) Deciduousness: the complete of partial shedding of leaves at a definite season of the year;
2) Leaf thickening: the leaf is either thickened and fleshy, or thin and brittle; the upper leaf surface is covered by a shiny wax layer;
3) Water-storing tissue: a thin wax cover combined with water storing tissue in leaves and stems, is found in plants such as cactus and agaves;
4) Thorniness: it is not clear how this characteristic assists the plant to survive better in the given habitat, but it is associated with a dry environment, and thus must be a response to it.

Candle Cactus

Candle Cactus

Vegetation on Bonaire has suffered from the voracity of the thousands of half-wild goats and a smaller number of donkeys running over the island, and by consequent prevention of rejuvenation, where the vegetation has been strongly affected, a secondary plant cover has developed. An impoverished vegetation is also found along the windward coast as a result of the strong, constant and salty trade winds. Also, the native flora has to compete against exotic species brought by men for different purposes like agriculture and ornamentation.

Washington Slagbaai National Park – FAUNA

The visitor to Washington Slagbaai National Park, who studies the land fauna in detail, will be surprised to discover that a number of species are not only characteristic of the leeward islands of the Netherlands Antilles, but also unique to Bonaire. They are representatives of two groups, lizards and land snails, which are well adapted to the arid climate and which apparently, have lived for hundreds of thousands of years on the island which we now call Bonaire, so that they have developed into endemic species.

Bonaire has only a few mammals, 9 bat species, which have been observed up till now. They constitute half of the number known for the Antillean leeward Island as a whole. All other mammals living currently in Bonaire are exotic species, and were brought to our island by humans during the colonization periods.

The only amphibian on the island, a small frog, which also occurs on the mainland, was smuggled from Curaçao fifty years ago by a schoolboy.

Wara wara

The Netherlands Antilles Leeward Islands are true lizard country. Of the fifteen species known, no less than half are characteristic for the islands. The only snake on Bonaire, Culebra di plata (silver snake), is not bigger than a good-sized worm. 7 species of lizards inhabit Bonaire, two of which Anolis bonairensis and Cnemicdophorus murinus ruthveni, do not occur anywhere else in the world.

The small Gecko-like lizard that chases insects on the lamp lit walls of houses is called Tòtèki pega-pega (Philodactilylus martini). It is confined to Bonaire and Curaçao and related the Philodactylus species of Aruba, the Venezuelan islands and the main land of South America.

More striking is the even smaller Tòtèki, Gonotodes
(or Gymnodactylus) Antillensis. It has a body length of less than 3 cm. It is only found in Bonaire and Curaçao, and in daytime is often seen among rocks and refuse.

Iguana iguana, is becoming rare in places where it is being hunted with catapult, noose and stones because of its tasty meat. In the National Park, however, iguanas may be commonly seen, between rocks or in the huge candelabrum-cactuses where they feed on the fruit.

According to the most recent data, 203 species of birds have been observed on the island, but this includes all casual avian visitors, which make up quite a large part of that number. What makes the birding in the National Park so attractive is the fact that there is such a variety to be seen in a comparatively small easily accessible area.

All over the Park and throughout the whole year you may find our residents, but there are special places that may give you an optimum chance for an easy birding experience:

  • Pos Mangel
  • Saliña Bartol
  • Put Bronswinkel
  • Pos Nobo
  • Saliña Slagbaai
  • Subí Brandaris

A special note has to be made on two species of bird residents of Bonaire. First mention must be made of our trademark, the Caribbean flamingo. It is unnecessary to introduce this bird, which made Bonaire well known for being the only flamingo breeding site in the Southern Caribbean. Within the park area, they are most numerous in Goto Lake, but can also be observed in Slagbaai, Playa Funchi and occasionally in other saltpans.

Secondly, the Yellow-shouldered parrot is also a subspecies, which is not completely, but mainly, restricted to Bonaire. Unfortunately, this bird is very much valued as a pet by many people. As they bring a good price, many young birds are taken from their nests to be sold by people even though they are protected by law. If this predation by man cannot be stopped in time, it is very doubtful the parrots will be saved from extinction.

Washington Slagbaai National Park – RULES AND TIPS

Please observe the following rules. Your cooperation is appreciated and will help us to preserve Bonaire’s history and natural beauty.

  • A valid admission ticket is required and visitors are admitted only during posted hours.
  • Residents are required to show their I.D. for local rates.
  • As a Nature Fee holder you may enter the Washington Slagbaai National Park free of additional charge by showing the written receipt of purchase of your tag and a picture ID (this can be your C-card, driver’s license, etc.).
  • Only four-wheeled motor vehicles with a spare tire are allowed.
  • Quads and trikes are not allowed.
  • Do not bring any animals or plants into the National Park.
  • Use the trash receptacles for litter. Take care that nothing harmful to the environment is left behind.
  • Building fires, except in the charcoal barbecue pits at Slagbaai, is not permitted.
  • Do not discard matches or cigarettes carelessly.
  • Roads are one way and the speed limit is 25 Km/h.
  • Do not play loud music or behave in a noisy manner, especially near the saltpans.
  • Defacing any natural or manmade property is not allowed.
  • No weapons or animal traps (including fishing nets) are allowed in the park.
  • Capturing, harassing, killing and/or disturbing any of the animals or plants is prohibited. We also discourage feeding any animals.
  • Do not take pictures inside the caves. Flash photography is a hazard to wild life.
  • Use the toilets at the Visitor Center. The use of other areas is prohibited.
  • Dives should commence prior to 2:30pm, allowing visitors time to vacate the park by 5:00 pm.
  • Swimming, fishing or kayaking are not permited in the salt-pans.

Please follow all directives or instructions given by the Park Rangers. They are there to ensure your safety and enjoyment.

All the waters surrounding the park fall under the jurisdiction of the Bonaire National Marine Park and those regulations also are in force.

Vehicles are subject to search upon exiting the park.

Research & Monitoring

It is impossible to make adequate nature management decisions without having the correct information about your resources. Scientific research and monitoring are virtually the only tools to obtain this kind of information and, therefore, are the main goals of the Natural and Historic Resources of STINAPA Bonaire.

Currently we have four main areas of Research and Monitoring on terrestrial resources, namely bats, caves,  plant phenology, terrestrial birds with an emphasis in parrot populations, and waterbird populations in the salt flats.

On the marine resources, the main areas of Research and Monitoring currently taking place are: Functional groups in the coral reef, conch populations at Lac, coral bleaching, nesting sea birds, fish populations, and lionfish as an invasive species. Financial constraints do not allow for research in other areas, even though such research is also urgently needed. STINAPA Bonaire also strives to find the funding that will allow us to have a complete Research and Monitoring program.

Washington Slagbaai National Park – ADMISSION

Washington Slagbaai National Park (WSNP) opens daily (except Christmas day and New Year’s day) at 8 am, and closes at 5 pm. We recommend you arrive early as it will take at least 2 hours to drive around the Park. The latest you are allowed entry into the Park is at 2:45 pm. However, this does not apply if you are on a bicycle or you plan to climb Brandaris. All cyclists and hikers to the Brandaris must enter the Park no later than 12 noon.
The admission fee to the park is $25 for adults for one calendar year. For children under 12 years there is no charge. Residents of Bonaire have 2 options, they may either pay a $3 fee for a day pass, or pay the $15 fee for one calendar year. To be eligible for this local price, a valid residency ID (Sedula) must be presented upon entry.
You may enter the Washington Slagbaai National Park free of charge by showing the written receipt of purchase of your dive tag and a picture ID. This can be your C-card, driver’s license, etc. Photo copies are accepted.

Proof of purchase of the $10 Nature Fee by itself does not allow entry into the park. However, purchase of the $10 Nature Fee tag counts towards the $25 entrance fee to Washington Slagbaai National Park (an amount of $15 per person will be charged upon presentation of proof of purchase of the $10 Nature Fee).
SCUBA divers               $25 per calendar year  (includes entry to WSNP)
SCUBA divers               $10 day pass               (excludes entry to WSNP)
Non-scuba divers         $10 per calendar year (excludes entry to WSNP)
WSNP                           $25 per calendar year  (or $15 with proof of payment of $10 Nature Fee)
After payment of the Nature Fee for a calendar year the user receives a tag and also a receipt in their name. The receipt and the tag have matching numbers. The tag should be carried or worn where it is visible: on the BCD for SCUBA divers. The receipt can be kept in your wallet, waterproof pocket of dive bag, or beach bag.
The income from the Nature Fee will provide the funds for managing Bonaire’s parks, guaranteeing our lasting success in nature protection and conservation.
Please note that the payment of the Nature Fee grants permission to use the BNMP for the specific individual for whom the fee is paid and may not be used by any other individuals.
The Nature Fee tags may be purchased at dive centers, resort activity desks, through providers of activities in the Bonaire National Marine Park or at the Visitor Center (entrance) of the Washington Slagbaai National Park.

Valles Caldera


The Preserve is open to the public but we guarantee you’ll find the visit unlike other large attractions. We keep the numbers of visitors small for any activity so you’ll feel like you have the place to yourself. Don’t expect big crowds. Instead, we offer a chance to get out and really experience a sense of solitude that we hope will leave you refreshed and relaxed.

You’ll see wildlife, beautiful vistas and learn about the Preserve’s rich history and geology. Most of our activities are by reservation, but we always have something for you to do. Some of our activities are special events that may involve participants with similar interests. Select an activity from the list below and begin your adventure.

See you soon!

Winter Season

Cross Country Skiing
Sleigh/ Wagon Rides

Spring Season

Backcountry Shuttle
Cross Country Skiing
Equestrian Trail Riding
Fly Fishing
Fishing Clinics
Photography Workshops
Mountain Biking
Sleigh/ Wagon Rides
Turkey Hunting
Van Tours

Summer Season

Backcountry Shuttle
Campfire Program
Earth Skills Gathering
Equestrian Trail Riding
Fly Fishing
Fishing Clinics
Mountain Biking
Photography Adventures
Ranch Road Ramble
Story Telling Jamobree
Van Tours

Fall Season

Backcountry Shuttle
Campfire Program
Elk Hunting
Equestrian Trail Riding
Fly Fishing
Mountain Biking
Photography Adventures
Ranch Road Ramble



The Valles Caldera National Preserve isn’t just the work of our board and staff. Its creation was the joint effort of policy-makers, public servants and a large group of interested citizens who deeply care about the future of the place. We work in concert to protect the land and restore it. Perhaps someday our efforts will offer valuable lessons that be applied to other public lands.

This section of the Web site offers many ways to become involved. You can volunteer, get involved in providing feedback on our programs and planning, attend public meetings sponsored by the trust, or join an on-line forum to share your thoughts and dialog with others about the Trust and Preserve.

This portion of our Web site is sure to change. Keep coming back for another visit to find out more.


The Valles Caldera Trust is working to become a part of the fabric of our community. There are many ways we can contribute: We offer opportunities not only for recreation, but also for livelihood through good jobs and interesting careers. Our livestock grazing program helps sustain agriculture in New Mexico, and seeks new ways to make it sustainable. Our science program promises to offers a wide avenue for education of our young people and contributes to our knowledge base that helps us understand the preserve, our region and the world.

The Valles Caldera National Preserve is just a small place, really – but what we can do is quite big. We’ve only just begun.



The long tradition of livestock grazing on the Valles Caldera lives on in the Valles Caldera Trust’s grazing operation. Among the six purposes of the Valles Caldera Preservation Act of 2000 is that which directs us to continue this tradition by operating the preserve as a working ranch.

Starting with a modest emergency drought relief program for local ranchers in August 2002 (just after the trust assumed management of the preserve), we’ve worked to find a way to provide summer grazing to area ranchers while sustaining the health of the watershed and rangelands.

We define a working ranch as an operation that places its primary emphasis on the stewardship of resources as the foundation for both ecological and economic sustainability. A working ranch:

  • Runs a sustainable level of livestock, adjusting numbers as necessary;
  • Makes resources available for other revenue-generating activities such as bird watching, hunting, fishing and other low-impact recreational activities;
  • Applies adaptive management on the day-to-day basis to ensure resource protection; and
  • Monitors the impact of its activities.



Science plays an important role on the Valles Caldera National Preserve. We use science-based adaptive management to monitor the programs we create, and then use the results to aid us in our decision-making. For example, we monitor all the trails hikers use to check for signs of impact – erosion, affects to plant life, and more. Science is not the only tool we use, but a consistent monitoring program helps us pinpoint not only negative impacts but places where restoration is at work.

Along with monitoring, the preserve science staff also is engaged in inventorying the many types of flora and fauna on the preserve. To help protect the preserve and its wildlife, plants and water quality, we must understand the diversity and populations living here.

A number of research projects are well underway at the preserve. For example, a project to create a new geologic map of the preserve is entering its third year. The new map will replace the 1970 USGS map of the same area and provide greater details to help geologists better understand the formation of the caldera and the Jemez Mountains region. A core sample taken in 2004 will provide details on the lakebed sedimentary history of the Valle Grande, helping scientists predict climate change. Opportunities for study abound.

This section is currently under construction but will contain public data that researchers and students can use.



Give your students the opportunity to learn in an 89,000-acre classroom! The Trust’s education staff offers a variety of unique k-12 education programs that address education standards through outdoor activities, games, and experiences.

Education program reservation applications must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the date of your requested program. Please note that some education programs may not be possible during the winter season once the snow arrives.

How to Request an Education Program:

For teachers and instructors of academic courses, the Valles Caldera Trust also offers an Educational Use Permit. This option is perfect for education groups desiring access to the Preserve, without participating in a VCT education program. For example, a teacher who would like to bring her class to the Preserve to conduct water sampling tests would apply for an Educational Use Permit.

Hey teachers! Check out the teacher resource website created to compliment the award-winning documentary Valles Caldera: The Science.



The Valles Caldera Trust was created by the Valles Caldera Preservation Act of 2000 to preserve and protect the historic Baca Ranch of New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains. The groundbreaking legislation that provided for the federal purchase of this 89,000-acre ranch nestled inside a volcanic caldera also created a unique experiment in public land management.

A nine-member board of trustees is responsible for the protection and development of the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Seven of its members are appointed by the President of the United States. In addition, the current Superintendent of nearby Bandelier National Monument and the Forest Supervisor of the Santa Fe National Forest also serve on the board. All board decisions are made in public meetings.

In August of 2002, the management authority for the new piece of public land was transferred to the Valles Caldera Trust.. With the prospect of the opportunities presented by a blank slate, the board began its work. This work includes continuing ranch operations while opening the preserve to visitors. We are using science-based adaptive management to inform our management and decision-making on the preserve.

Today, the Valles Caldera National Preserve and the Valles Caldera Trust are still works in progress. With a small but creative staff, we’re working to find ways to meaningfully include the public in the development of our programs and planning. We strive for efficiency in our operations,

A non-proft, 501-c-1 organization, the trust can accept donations.

Parks and Special Places
Clyde River Proposed Territorial Park


Along the east coast of Baffin Island, lofty mountains line narrow fiords penetrating deep into spectacular ranges with shining ice caps and cliffs that drop some 1500 metres into the sea. Here immense glaciers cover the peaks and descend amongst rocky pinnacles and spires, calving icebergs into the ocean. A look at a map reveals that these fiords and long lakes were once filled with glaciers creeping down from the heights, glaciers that have in the past two centuries retreated, exposing more and more of the underlying land. Caribou roam the valleys, and raptors and seabirds nest on the sheer cliffs, while ringed seals bob in the icy waters, and packs of harp seals hunt the arctic cod. Narwhals pursue small fish, and immense bowhead whales dive deep into the depths and surface, mouths agape, scooping up krill and other marine invertebrates. Occasionally, orcas range the fiords, seeking smaller whales and seals as their prey. Inuit and their ancestors have traveled these narrow fiords and sheer-walled islands for over a thousand years, and the people of Clyde River still travel into the fiords by boat, snowmobile, and occasionally, dogteam. Revoir Pass and Caribou Pass at the end of Eglinton Fiord are key routes to prime fishing and hunting areas. The rolling hills of the Barnes Plateau, at the inner end of the fiords, are important caribou hunting grounds today, just as they were for families living in the fiords many years ago. Beyond the plateau, the Barnes Icecap casts a silver mantle over the horizon. Clyde River Proposed Territorial Park N u n a v u t Pa r k s & S p e c i a l P l a c e s – E d i t o r i a l S e r i e s Ja n u a r y , 2 0 0 8 A u s s i d i s p o n i b l e e n f ra n ç a i s xgw8Ns 7uJ 5 wk 5tg 5 P i l a a k t u t I n u i n a q t u t Studies carried out during the past 10 years in the area around Clyde River have identified a large area of the fiords of the central part of the east coast of Baffin Island as having great potential for a territorial park. The area is under consideration for nomination by UNESCO as part of a World Biosphere Reserve, and research continues into the feasibility of establishing a Nunavut Territorial Park in the area. This area includes a significant amount of coastal marine habitat. It is quite different from Auyuittuq National Park, located between Cumberland Sound and the east coast of Baffin Island at Qikiqtarjuaq, and offers a variety of land-based activities. A park near Clyde River would focus on the deep fiords with glaciers flowing down to salt water and on land-based opportunities in the valleys of the fiords, on boating and camping opportunities in the summer and on sea ice-based experiences during the time the ice is reliable for travel. Coupled with Niginganiq, the proposed bowhead whale sanctuary southeast of Clyde River, this park will offer premier attractions to the Clyde River area. Clyde River is a small and traditional Inuit community on the eastern side of Baffin Island. Access to the area is by aircraft and possibly cruise ship, and to the fiords, by boat, snowmobile or dogsled. One of a kind wonders Everywhere, the scenery is world-class, with each fiord having its own unique character, and offering different experiences. Eglinton Fiord is a short, winding fiord leading to wonderful hiking in the U-shaped glacial valley of Revoir Pass. Massive rock walls tower over your boat at the junction of Sam Ford Fiord and Walker Arm, and jumbled walls of ice descend steep slopes to the sea. The vertical cliffs of the China Wall would dwarf the Great Wall of China for which it is named. Sail Peak soars above the glacial-sculpted Stewart Valley, and the huge vertical cliffs in Scott Inlet offer some of the best mountain climbing in the world. Clouds of guillemots and glaucous gulls swirl in an aerial ballet around nesting cliffs on the sheer cliffs along Scott Inlet and on Scott Island. The valleys leading down to the fiords offer good hiking, and opportunities to see wildlife – perhaps a caribou, arctic fox, soaring gyrfalcon, or peregrine defending its rocky eyrie. Hikers are seldom far from the sound of glacial meltwater rushing down the slopes to collect in valley lakes and then flowing through jumbled rockfalls to the sea. At Avituyuq, a huge rock shaped like a bowhead whale rises from the waters, and distinctive peaks at Walker Arm resemble an old man, old woman, and a dogsled (qamutik). The place seems at times infused with mystery, especially places near the end of Gibbs Fiord where stones are moved by spirits from the past. The long days of the arctic spring bring seals out on the ice to bear their young in aigluit beneath the snow, and later to bask in the sun and moult their last year’s coats. At this time of year, travel by snowmobile or dogteam is easy, and the people travel into the fiords to hunt caribou and seals. In summer, wildflowers carpet the ground, and lichens create a tapestry on the rocks. Polar bears roam the green valleys and can be seen along the steep shorelines of the fiords or swimming across the narrow inlets. Autumn follows quickly on the heels of summer, bringing crisp days, night skies filled with the aurora, migrating geese, and brilliant colours on the tundra. With the coming of winter, ice covers all the sea, and jumbles up where the tides lift and drop the platform of ice. Snow blankets the land, and all is quiet under the writhing aurora and the winter moon. Hunters travel inland by snowmobile, and polar bears patrol the dark fiords. At any time of year, this is a special, mystical world, as the long avenues of stone are alive with legends from the past. The traveler on the land may see ancient tent rings or come upon the remains of an old winter house (qammat), with whale rib antlers scattered all about, or stone storage caches where people have in the past stored dried meat against hard times. Elders tell the stories of the past, serving as a connection between a time when people lived entirely off the land and a time when they have learned to use the technology of today to help them live and travel on the land. ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e a Park in the works The process of creating a new territorial park is undertaken in keeping with the Umbrella Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement (IIBA) negotiated for Territorial Parks and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. The process also requires the eventual transfer of lands from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) for the purposes of a territorial park, and the development of a Park Master Plan and management plans. Nunavut Parks is continuing to work with residents of Clyde River in developing further studies, resource inventories, and consultations in support of the idea of the creation of a territorial park to the north of Clyde River. Further information on plans for a park in this part of Nunavut is available on the Nunavut Parks website at Call Nunavut Tourism at 1-866-NUNAVUT to request the Nunavut Travel Planner, which lists all licensed tourism operators and accommodations and services in Clyde River.

Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park


It’s late summer along the starkly beautiful Hudson Bay coast. The land is a patchwork of reds and greens, yellows and bronze and the lakes reflect the deep blue of the arctic sky. Snow geese pass overhead in long lines, their wild cries echoing across the rolling hills. A peregrine falcon sweeps in pursuit of a horned lark, and a pair of sandhill cranes stalk along the edge of a tundra pond, followed by a gangly chick. Small groups of people dot the land, some kneeling, some sitting, some carrying buckets of berries to nearby all-terrain vehicles. It is a time of plenty on the tundra, and many families are out on the land, enjoying the warmth of the late summer days at Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park. Here, where the rivers flow into the sea, the ancestors of today’s Inuit lived in harmony with the land, utilizing bone and stone, skins and snow to survive in a harsh environment. Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park, just 8 kilometres from Rankin Inlet, was set aside to preserve a valuable natural area, and dozens of important archaeological sites. Here, you can enjoy the tundra landscape, or take a journey back in time to learn about the way of life of the Thule transition people as they changed to the modern Caribou Inuit. A gravel road runs from the community around the head of Rankin Inlet and across the Char River to the park. Interpretive signs along the park roads help visitors understand the stories of the land, animals, plant communities, and old Inuit sites in the park. A side road provides access to Iqalugaarjuk (also known as the Meliadine River) for fishing, and hiking. Importantly too, it gives Inuit elders a way to get fresh, untreated water for traditional tea, and provides access to an important archaeological site. Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park N u n a v u t Pa r k s & S p e c i a l P l a c e s – E d i t o r i a l S e r i e s Ja n u a r y , 2 0 0 8 A u s s i d i s p o n i b l e e n f ra n ç a i s xgw8Ns 7uJ 5 wk 5tg 5 P i l a a k t u t I n u i n a q t u t Qamaviniqtalik, “the place with old sod houses”, is one of the treasures of Nunavut and of the Inuit culture. Here, you can see beautifully preserved examples of the stone structures that were so much a part of the life of the past. Occupied from 1200 – 1775 AD by the Thule, and later by the Caribou Inuit, this site was used from late summer through early winter. A gravel trail meanders through the park, and passes by semi-subterranean autumn houses, tent rings, stone supports for drying racks, and many storage caches. There are stone kayak cradles, fox traps, and even a grave. There is a sod hut at the entrance to Qamaviniqtalik, where cultural programs are frequently held. Along the river, there are faint remains of stone fishing weirs and inuksuit game drive systems, plus hunting blinds used for goose or caribou hunting in the past. Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga offers some of the best examples of these structures easily accessible from a community. A printed guide, available at the Rankin Inlet Visitor Centre at the airport, explains the geology, wildlife, plant communities, and explains the structures and the culture of the people who lived here. Birdwatching in the park is superb from June through September, and it is often possible to see three species of loons, nesting long-tailed ducks, peregrine falcons, roughlegged hawks, gulls, ravens, ptarmigan, shorebirds, and many species of tundranesting small birds like Lapland longspurs, redpolls, horned larks, and snow buntings. Mammals are a bit more chancy, but there are dozens of ground squirrels (locally called sik sik), lemmings, arctic foxes, short-tailed weasels, and arctic hares. You may also see thousands of caribou move through the park if you visit when the caribou migration passes near Rankin. This park offers excellent hiking, and camping is permitted. There are several wooden tent platforms, as well as picnic facilities and outhouses. In late August through mid-September, the berry picking is wonderful – there are great quantities of lingonberries, crowberries, and bearberries, and some spots where there are blueberries and cloudberries. Fishing is seasonally very good on Iqalugaarjuk, and some local lakes, but the river is too shallow for canoeing or kayaking. Travelling to the Park Rankin Inlet is the gateway to the Kivalliq region in central Nunavut, and is accessible only by air, from Ottawa through Iqaluit, from Winnipeg, and from Edmonton thorough Yellowknife. Operators in Rankin Inlet offer road trips to Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park as well as boat trips along the coast and to Marble Island, and fishing trips to many inland lakes for world-class lake trout fishing. Vehicles can be rented in Rankin Inlet, but a trip to the park is enhanced when it is done with a guide who can share information about the history of the area, the Inuit culture and way of life. Travellers going to canoe the Thelon, Dubawnt, or Kazan Rivers or to Ukkusiksalik National Park also usually pass through Rankin Inlet. The park is accessible by snowmobile or dogteam in the winter and springtime, when snow covers the land and the road is impassable. It is accessible by road from early June through September, and sometimes later, if there is not too much snow.

Katannilik Territorial Park


Stretching across south Baffin Island’s Meta Incognita Peninsula from Frobisher Bay to the Hudson Strait at Kimmirut, Katannilik Territorial Park is the crown jewel of Nunavut’s territorial park system and a true destination park, offering superlative arctic experiences in summer and during the snow season. “Katannilik” is an Inuktitut word meaning “where there are waterfalls”, and refers to the many waterfalls cascading down the valley walls into the Soper River, a Canadian Heritage River which was designated in 1992 for its outstanding natural and cultural heritage values, and its incredible recreational opportunities. Inuit call the Soper River Kuujuaq, or “great river”, and have traveled through this natural inland corridor for centuries, on the Itijjagiaq Trail, which means “over the land”. This traditional trail begins in Kimmirut, and follows the east side of the river north to Mount Joy, then heads east and runs across the peninsula to Frobisher Bay and ends in Iqaluit. Today, the Itijjagiaq Trail is followed by skiers, snowmobilers, dog teams, and hikers, as well as the Inuit who travel regularly between Kimmirut and Iqaluit and continue to use the Soper River valley as their traditional hunting area. The Soper River valley, which runs through the park, is sheltered from harsh winds and is 4 to 5 degrees warmer than elsewhere. This unique microclimate supports a lush profusion of arctic wildflowers as well as unusually tall willows that are growing faster than willows in central Alberta. The wildflowers, including white arctic heather, mountain avens, and large-flowered wintergreen, are best in mid-July, and berries (bearberry, blueberry, lingonberry, and crowberry) ripen in mid-August. In early September, the tundra is resplendent in fall colours. In turn, the microclimate and plant life support good numbers of caribou, as well as other wildlife and birdlife. Caribou may be seen at any time Katannilik Territorial Park N u n a v u t Pa r k s & S p e c i a l P l a c e s – E d i t o r i a l S e r i e s Ja n u a r y , 2 0 0 8 A u s s i d i s p o n i b l e e n f ra n ç a i s xgw8Ns 7uJ 5 wk 5tg 5 P i l a a k t u t I n u i n a q t u t of year. Bulls are more common in June, as the cows are at the calving grounds, but the cows and calves return to the valley by the end of August. Arctic foxes, arctic hares and lemmings can be seen at any time of year, and wolves are sometimes seen. Polar bears are not common, but are seen in the valley, so knowing bear safety practices is essential. Some 35-40 species of birds nest in or pass through the area on migration. Rock ptarmigan, snowy owls and ravens remain through the winter, and the rest migrate but return in the spring. Canada geese and brant geese nest in wetlands along the river, and snow geese pass through in spring and fall. Peregrine falcons and gyrfalcons hunt throughout the valley. Snowy owl populations are tied to lemming population booms; sometimes they are common, and sometimes absent. Small tundra nesting birds include snow buntings, Lapland longspurs, horned larks, and northern pipits as well as semipalmated plovers and several sandpipers. Red-breasted mergansers nest along the river and in small lakes. Red-throated and Pacific loons nest on lakes near the coast, and arctic terns can be seen along the river or at the coast. Seabirds include thick-billed murres, black guillemots, and several gulls. Visiting an ancient land Because of this abundance of wildlife, the area has always been a prime hunting area for Inuit. Evidence of the Dorset culture, dating back some 4,000 years, can still be found along the coastal region near Kimmirut. In a warming period between 800 and 1,000 years ago, the Dorset were replaced or overrun by the Thule people, bowhead whale hunters who lived in large permanent villages. When the climate cooled (between 1650 and 1850) and there were not as many bowhead whales along the coasts of Baffin Island, the Thule were forced to change their hunting patterns, relying more on the smaller sea mammals, and hunting caribou as part of their yearly cycle. They became the modern Inuit. The geology of Katannilik Territorial Park is equally fascinating, with outcrops of crystalline limestone, and Precambrian metamorphic and igneous rock. The land has been sculpted by several ice sheets, leaving behind glacial landforms and deposits, glacial erratic boulders, and glacial polish and striations in the bedrock. There are deposits of mica, flat shiny crystals in thin flakes, pewter-coloured graphite, tiny dark red garnet crystals, fossiliferous limestone, and deposits of marble or carving stones. The park also contains a rare deposit of blue lapis lazuli which is found on Inuit Owned Lands, so you will require special permission from the Qikiqtani Inuit Association to visit the site. In Katannilik Territorial Park, there are numerous falls on the side streams flowing into the Soper River and of course, Soper Falls in the lower part of the river, beautiful rock outcrops, deeply incised caribou trails, interesting glacial landforms, superb shows of wildflowers, and much more. On the lower Soper, where the river widens into a lake, there is a set of “reversing falls” at the seaward end. Here the 10 metre tides on Pleasant Inlet cause the river to actually reverse at high tide, and salt water flows into Soper Lake (also called Tasiujajuaq). Hiking along the river or up into side valleys is endlessly rewarding. Whether you spot an incredible patch of wildflowers, discover a peregrine falcon nest on a cliff, or watch an arctic fox playing with kits at a den, each experience is like a precious jewel in the setting of the arctic summer. Combined, the park strings together these experiences into a memorable necklace. Travelling to the Park For those planning to hike into Katannilik Territorial Park, a printed guidebook called The Itijjagiaq Trail is indispensable. It provides detailed information on the routes, landmarks, and survival shelters, as well as foldout strip maps that are of great use to hikers. This 120 kilometre trail runs through a natural, unmarked landscape; it is not a prepared or signed surface, so map-reading skills and the proper maps are essential. The Soper is not a technically challenging river, so can be enjoyably canoed, kayaked, or rafted by even novice paddlers. The great variety of side hikes and wildlife watching opportunities make it an excellent 5-7 day trip. The lower section of the river is level and slow, so it is also possible to fly to Kimmirut where you can rent canoes and gear for a trip upriver. Operators will take paddlers to the Soper Falls or Falcon Bluffs, and will pick paddlers up at Soper Lake for a 3 kilometre drive into Kimmirut. The flow of water in the river is sufficient for paddling from early July through the end of August. The Soper River guidebook provides detailed information about rapids, takeout spots, campsites, ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e and park structures along the route, and information as to how to arrange for dropoffs and pick-ups in the park. Hikers, canoeists or rafters generally fly in by chartered aircraft to landing sites at Mount Joy or at Livingstone Falls, and paddle the river or hike the trail to Kimmirut. Outfitters in Iqaluit will also take hikers by boat to the trailhead across Frobisher Bay, and the start of your hike across the peninsula along the Itijjagiaq Trail. The hike is rugged but beautiful, and takes 5 to 7 days from Frobisher Bay to Mount Joy, where hikers may pick up their canoes and paddle the rest of the river, or continue hiking into Kimmirut. Traveling through Katannilik Territorial Park is equally rewarding in spring. This is the season for snow travel, and all the thrills and challenges of dogteam, snowmobile or ski travel on the land, all possible on your own, or guided by operators from Iqaluit or Kimmirut. Snow and ice create incredible natural sculptures, and you can follow animal tracks, or see landscape features that are not as evident in summer. Cross-country skiing in the park is like moving through a wondrous landscape, a symphony of white and blue with fantastic shapes and textures all around. Dogteaming is more intense, an adventure in cooperation between species. And snowmobiling, much faster, is all about the rush and thrill of carving lines in the crystal landscape. At the Kimmirut end of the park, the Katannilik Park Centre and the Soper House Gallery, located in the historic Dewey Soper house, offer interpretive exhibits and displays of local art, plus frequent opportunities to meet the artists and purchase local treasures to remind you of your trip. The staff at the visitors’ centre keeps track of visitors to the park and will also help arrange dropoffs and pick-ups in the park. They will also help visitors arrange for home-stay accommodations in Kimmirut. The new Taqaiqsirvik Territorial Park campground provides a place to camp in Kimmirut. A trip to Katannilik Territorial Park is not a casual day outing; it is necessary to plan carefully to avoid problems with weather or polar bears. You are also required to register with Nunavut Parks before your trip. For help in planning a trip, visit the Nunavut Territorial Parks website at Operators from Iqaluit and Kimmirut and outside Nunavut offer organized trips into this park, and it is an increasingly popular destination for independent travellers who hike the valley, or canoe the river on their own. Using the services of a guide/outfitter reduces the risk, and experiences are always better when done with a guide who knows the land, the stories, and the wildlife. For more information on licensed operators providing access services or guide services in the park, check the Nunavut Parks website at, or call the Unikkaarvik Visitors’ Centre in Iqaluit (867.979.4636) or the Katannilik Park Centre in Kimmirut (867.939.2416) for assistance or recommendations.

Kekerten Territorial Park


It’s the late 1830s, and whaling ships from England and America ply the waters of Lancaster Sound, Baffin Bay, and Davis Strait, hunting the great bowhead whales, rendering their blubber into oil and shipping it back to England. Each year the arctic exacts a tremendous price – ships are crushed by ice or crews are trapped and forced to overwinter without proper supplies. Captain William Penny has an idea – if a place could be found where the ships could be frozen in and where crews could live on land during the winter, they could start the hunt much earlier in the spring, hunting along the floe edge, getting whales in a shorter time so they could return to England earlier, and rich. The Inuit speak of a large bay that teems with whales, seals, and fish, calling it Tenudiackbik… Aided by his Inuit shipmate, Eenoolooapik, Penny searches southward along the coast of Baffin Island for the fabled bay. Finding a large bay opening to the west, he sails into the bay, past numerous beautiful fiords. Whales are everywhere, rolling, breaching, and spy-hopping. Seals bob in the sparkling waters and seabirds dart over the waves. This may be the sanctuary he has been seeking, an ideal spot for the crews to spend the winter. Penny anchors his ship off three small islands at the mouth of a deep fiord. The rest is history. Today, the area is called Cumberland Sound – and it played a huge role in North American whaling history. As stocks elsewhere were depleted, there was more and more focus on this inlet, with its rich marine life that attracted the baleen whales. Kekerten Territorial Park N u n a v u t Pa r k s & S p e c i a l P l a c e s – E d i t o r i a l S e r i e s Ja n u a r y , 2 0 0 8 A u s s i d i s p o n i b l e e n f ra n ç a i s xgw8Ns 7uJ 5 wk 5tg 5 P i l a a k t u t I n u i n a q t u t Penny’s crew did overwinter in the sound in 1854 and they, and an American ship that had first overwintered in 1852, enjoyed very successful sprint hunts around Kekerten Island. At Kekerten, buildings were added in 1857, and many Inuit joined the whalers for the winter, living around the whaling outpost, finding employment as crews on whaleboats, transporting blubber from the floe edge back to the island, rendering whale oil, hunting to supply food for the camps, or providing fur clothing for the whalers. In return, the Inuit received rifles, telescopes, whaleboats, knives, needles, matches, kettles, and many more manufactured items. They were also exposed to many of the “white man’s” diseases, and epidemics decimated their numbers. However, many survived and worked through the last half of the nineteenth century with the whalers. By the 1860s, ships from both England and the US were routinely wintering at the islands called Kekerten, and at Niantilik, Blacklead Island, and Cape Haven. As the bowhead stocks were depleted, the hunt moved on to smaller marine mammals like seals, walrus, narwhals and belugas. The islands were beehives of activity in the late 1800s, as the whalers were joined by scientists, government officials and missionaries. By 1912, the unrelenting hunting pressure pushed the bowhead whale population of the sound to below the economic threshold, and by 1917 the whalers were gone. Inuit continued the hunt for five more years, but the post at Kekerten was abandoned by the mid 1920s. Kekerten Territorial Park is a special place of national historic significance, and was established to preserve the historic remains of a time when Inuit and whalers worked together in a harsh environment. Conserving history Today, the island is entirely protected. A boardwalk trail connects points of interest, and people are encouraged to remain on the trail to protect the remains of many old houses and storage caches. Hundreds of barrel hoops, some wooden barrels, blubber-hauling pins, and several old iron trypots remain, along with fragments of old whaleboats and buildings, the foundations of an old forge used to work iron into harpoons and flensing equipment, and a slip used to haul the whaleboats out for repairs or storage. There are reconstructions of the whalebone frameworks used to support the roofs of Inuit winter houses, and many old tent rings and house foundations. An extension to the boardwalk trail leads to the whalers’ graveyard and a whale-spotting lookout where the first Union Jack was raised in 1897 to assert sovereignty over the Canadian arctic. Signs with historical photographs and a printed guide tell the story of the island and its role in the Inuit and whaling cultures of the eastern arctic. Bird and sea mammal watching in and from the park is generally very good, with glimpses of ringed and harp seals and sometimes walrus and belugas or occasionally a narwhal. All three species of jaegers occur here, as well as sea ducks like common and king eiders and longtail ducks, and seabirds like the thick-billed murre, black gillemot, or dovkie are frequently seen. Peregrine falcons and gyrfalcons are possible around any cliffs. Shorebirds (Baird’s and white-rumped sandpipers, rednecked phalaropes, and sometimes golden plovers) skitter along the beaches. This is one of the few places in the world where you might be able to see both the semipalmated plover and the ringed plover at the same time. Small perching birds include the snow bunting, Lapland longspur, common redpoll and horned lark. Travelling to the Park Located about 50 kilometres south of Pangnirtung, Kekerten Territorial Park is accessible by snowmobile in springtime (early May through mid-June), and by boat in summer (mid-July to mid-September), approximately a three-hour trip in each season. To preserve the delicate sites, camping is not permitted in the park. However, local guides offer day trips to the island from Pangnirtung. They are well versed in the culture and the history of the whaling industry in Cumberland Sound, and willingly share their stories. Cruise ships visiting eastern Baffin Island often stop at Kekerten, and are joined by local guides who interpret the park. The traditional Inuit community of Pangnirtung is accessible by air from Iqaluit, and is also the jumping-off spot for your trip to Kekerten Territorial Park. There’s a lot to do in Pangnirtung. The scenery is gorgeous, and the people are friendly and helpful. The first language is Inuktitut, but many ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e younger people speak English as well. The Angmarlik Visitors’ Centre features displays interpreting the traditional Inuit life and the whaling history of the area, including displays of a Thule qammaq, or winter house, with all the implements of everyday living. The Visitors’ Centre is a combination of museum, community library and elders’ centre, where Inuit elders gather to play cards, knit or reminisce with each other. An old Hudson Bay Company Blubber Station with whaleboat slip is also preserved and open to visitors. Inside there are displays with historical photographs and a restored whaling boat equipped as it would have been for a whale hunt. Pangnirtung has become one of the main venues for traditional knowledge workshops and meetings, and is visited by people from all over Nunavut as well as from outside the territory. Camping is permitted in Pangnirtung, at the Pisuktinu Tunngavik Territorial Campground, which offers sturdy tent platforms, windbreaks, “comfort stations”, picnic facilities, and a stunning view of Pangnirtung Fiord. Staff at the Visitors’ Centre will direct you to the campground, arrange for local guides and outfitters to take you to Kekerten Territorial Park, or various day trips around Pangnirtung and Cumberland Sound. Visitors to Pangnirtung also enjoy the displays in the Parks Canada Interpretive Centre as well as visiting Uqqurmiut Arts and Crafts, which includes the famed Pangnirtung Print Shop and Pangnirtung Tapestry Studio, which produces incredible woven tapestries.

Kugluk/Bloody Falls Territorial Park


Kugluk/Bloody Falls Territorial Park commemorates a dark day in Copper Inuit history. Here, on July 17, 1771, a group of Inuit were camped at a beautiful cascade on the Coppermine River, where they had been taking fat char with long fish spears. Masked by the roar of the water, a group of their traditional enemies, the Chipewyans, crept down from upriver, and fell upon the little camp. Using knives, arrows, and spears, they killed every one. This massacre was witnessed by a terrified Samuel Hearne, who was being guided by this group of warriors. Hearn reported the massacre in the journal of his journey. This turbulent part of the Coppermine became known as Bloody Falls. Where the Coppermine River rushes over resistant rocks, it forms a magnificent cascade. This narrow channel with vigorously boiling rapids and twisting eddies has been an important place for the Inuit of the western Kitikmeot region for centuries. Here, char heading upstream are forced into shallow channels, enabling people to take them with traditional hooks and fish spears. Generations of Copper Inuit have traveled here to fish, and to hunt caribou on the surrounding hills. An 8.5 square kilometre area around Bloody Falls was designated as a Territorial Park due to its importance to Inuit of the area, to the scenic beauty of the area, and its abundant wildlife. Rolling tundra-covered hills and rocky escarpments are characteristic of the area. The valley is known for its lush displays of wildflowers in July, and the rocky shelves along the river make wonderful places to picnic, fish, and enjoy the beauty of the land. Caribou and muskox are frequently seen, as well as red and arctic foxes, and, occasionally, wolves or grizzlies. Kugluk/Bloody Falls Territorial Park N u n a v u t Pa r k s & S p e c i a l P l a c e s – E d i t o r i a l S e r i e s Ja n u a r y , 2 0 0 8 A u s s i d i s p o n i b l e e n f ra n ç a i s xgw8Ns 7uJ 5 wk 5tg 5 P i l a a k t u t I n u i n a q t u t Birds in the area include peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, rough-legged hawks, and golden and even bald eagles. Any of these can nest on cliffs along the river. Small tundra birds such as Lapland longspurs, horned larks, redpolls, savannah sparrows, and white-crowned sparrows enliven the summer tundra with their songs. Yellowbilled, Pacific, red-throated and common loons can be seen along the river, as well as long-tailed ducks and red-breasted and common mergansers. A small yellow daisy-like flower, the black-tipped groundsel, is common in the park. This plant was named by Dr. John Richardson of the first Franklin expedition; he called it Senecio lugens. “Lugens” comes from the Latin “lugeo” (to mourn), and by naming it this, Richardson commemorated the people who died here in the conflict with the Chipewyans in 1771. Other wildflowers, among them the mountain avens, several louseworts, rhododendrons, the striking blue arctic lupine and many more, bloom in profusion nearby. In the fall, the entire area blazes with colour – the scarlet of the bearberry, yellow of willows, salmon colour of the dwarf birches, bronze of Labrador tea, and maroon of the blueberries. Families go out to the park in the fall, picking berries and fishing in the river. There are many old campsites in the area, and archaeological evidence of use of the area by the Pre-Dorset, the Thule, modern Inuit, and even by the Taltheilei Indians, who came to the coast from near Great Slave Lake, hunting caribou. Paddle through history The Coppermine River has long been a travel corridor for the indigenous peoples of the North – ancient campsites are common along the river. Because there has been so little change since then, today’s river paddlers experience the land much as Hearne, Franklin, and the Inuit and Dene did almost two centuries ago. A paddling trip flows through gorgeous wilderness and crosses the Arctic Circle on its way to the Arctic Ocean. It runs through lands rich in wildlife, where muskox and caribou graze on the sparse vegetation of the uplands, and where wolves and grizzlies patrol the river banks, ever alert for a stranded fish or drowned caribou. On the upper reaches of the Coppermine, many small rivers and streams flow into the main river through hills thinly covered with stunted spruce and dwarf birch. Downstream, the hills are covered with tundra, while the boreal forest is limited to the lush river valley, and still farther downstream, the river flows through arctic tundra with wetlands at places along the river. It is, without a doubt, one of the premiere arctic rivers for the advanced novice paddler, or for those adventure seekers who want a guided river trip with good scenery, wildlife, signs of past cultures, and want to learn more about the river’s important place in history. Due to its historical and cultural importance, its value to wildlife, and its incredible recreational experiences, the Coppermine River has been nominated as a Canadian Heritage River. Nunavut Parks and Kugluktummiut are developing a river management plan, a requirement of the CHRS program, and are working towards full Canadian Heritage River designation, expected in 2008. Travelling to the Park A somewhat rough road connects Kugluk/ Bloody Falls Territorial Park with Kugluktuk, some 13 kilometres north. This road is seldom passable for ordinary vehicles, but all-terrain vehicles can access the park. Operators in Kugluktuk can organize trips by ATV to the falls, or by boat on the Coppermine. Boats can travel upstream from the mouth of the river to about one kilometre below the falls, so this makes a wonderful outing. Check with the Visitors’ Centre in Kugluktuk regarding trips to the falls. ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e Because there has been so little change since then, today’s river paddlers experience the land much as Hearne, Franklin, and the Inuit and Dene did almost two centuries ago. Winter trips into the park are sometimes available, and residents of Kugluktuk often go there by snowmobile, sometimes traveling upriver on the river ice. Caribou are frequently seen in springtime, and sometimes all winter.

Mallikjuaq Territorial Park


On the southwest coast of Baffin Island, several starkly beautiful rocky islands rise out of Hudson Strait like waves. Mallikjuaq Territorial Park (meaning ‘big wave’) is located on two large islands facing each other across a narrow inlet. Part of the park is on Dorset Island, also home to the thriving Inuit community of Cape Dorset, known around the world for its traditional Inuit art. Across low tidal flats on Mallikjuaq Island are archaeological sites offering clues to lives long past. Typical of the Arctic, Dorset Island and Mallikjuaq Island both seem barren yet sustain much life. In July, when wildflowers carpet the tundra with colour, birds return for the nesting season and Inuit travel to hunting camps along the shorelines. The trails of Mallikjuaq and Dorset Islands lead to places used by Inuit over centuries. On Dorset Island, two trails loop up into the hills from the community of Cape Dorset. Each trail is marked to help hikers avoid becoming lost, with additional markers for stops that are described in a printed interpretive guidebook. The Waterfall Trail leads to a 6-metre waterfall with a great place to picnic beside the falls. The trail circles around several rocky hills and through tundra valleys. The “T” Lake Trail makes a loop south of the Waterfall Trail around an attractive lake shaped like a letter T. A side trail off the “T” Lake trail leads to a viewpoint from which hikers can enjoy a panoramic view out over the south end of Dorset Island and Hudson Strait. Tundra nesting birds are common in summer, including the Lapland longspur, snow bunting, and horned lark. Caribou and arctic hares are occasionally seen on walks from town. Mallikjuaq Territorial Park N u n a v u t Pa r k s & S p e c i a l P l a c e s – E d i t o r i a l S e r i e s Ja n u a r y , 2 0 0 8 A u s s i d i s p o n i b l e e n f ra n ç a i s xgw8Ns 7uJ 5 wk 5tg 5 P i l a a k t u t I n u i n a q t u t Across the flats lie the low mountains, small ponds in green tundra valleys, sandy beaches, and rocky hillsides of Mallikjuaq Island. Pre-Dorset and Dorset people occupied this site as long ago as 2000 BC, but most structures are of Thule origin (300 to 800 years ago), and modern Inuit (during the last 200 years). The printed guide includes topographic maps of the trail and explains the various structures located along the way. These structures are in some cases partially restored, but for the most part are as time has left them, and knowing where they are in order to find and photograph or observe them is part of the adventure. On your hike, you’ll encounter nine winter houses clustered at the edge of a pond. Generally, the Thule lived in stone and sod houses with roofs of skins supported by the jawbones and ribs of bowhead whales. When spring thaws made these uninhabitable, the people moved out into skin tents. Along the trail, you will find small stone hearths, storage caches of stacked boulders, and tent rings, many with sleeping platforms outlined by stones. You’ll also find stone markers called inuksuit that indicated good camping spots, places where something was stored, or trails for others to follow. The large squaretopped piles of rocks are kayak stands, which were used to elevate the skin qayaq (kayak) out of the reach of hungry dogs. The trail circles a low mountain, and descends to the area above the beach, where there are many beluga bones, and an area with several long narrow piles of rocks which mark grave sites. There are many tent rings along this slope, and an interesting cone-shaped fox trap that was used to trap the foxes that were so destructive around a camp. They were constructed of stones, much as an iglu is built, with the stones fitted cleverly in ever-narrowing rings. Bait was placed inside, and the hole in the top would allow an arctic fox to climb up the outside and jump down into the trap. Once inside, it could not gain a foothold in the inward-slanting walls to climb out. Fox traps here are almost all older than 100 years; once the traders brought the leghold trap, no one would take the trouble to build a stone fox trap. Fascinating Flora and Fauna From the abundant wildflowers carpeting the summer tundra to the intriguing lichens creating colourful patterns on stones or the juicy berries that bead the fall tundra, the plant life of the arctic is endlessly fascinating. The trail guide includes information on arctic adaptations in plants, including the bright yellow arctic poppy, a true solar collector, with blooms that follow the sun. There are fragrant shield ferns in the rocks, brilliant moss campion cushion plants, prostrate willows, tiny bells of white arctic heather, and, in wet areas, silky tufts of the arctic cotton. Birds commonly encountered in summer hikes on Dorset and Mallikjuaq Islands include northern ravens, those clever scavengers who can sense a polar bear kill for several kilometres, gyrfalcons, snowy owls, and rock ptarmigans. The steep hillsides of both islands provide good lookouts for viewing marine mammals and birds. Off the island, seabirds like black guillemots, thick-billed murres and dovekies fish in the surf, or fly to their nesting cliffs. Marine mammals such as ringed seals and beluga whales are often seen in the sea near the community. The huge black bowhead whales are rare, but sometimes seen. Land mammals are less common but the large arctic hares are occasionally seen by hikers on the island. There’s also a possibility of spotting a caribou, so visitors are advised to keep scanning the land. Travelling to the Park The Mallikjuaq Territorial Park Trail Guidemap offers clear directions to the island and interprets the park’s many features. You can obtain a copy from Nunavut Tourism, the Mallikjuaq Park Centre or Cape Dorset’s hamlet office. Any of the trails of Dorset and Mallikjuaq can be walked in two to five hours – some are easy to walk, some more difficult. Mallikjuaq Island is accessible in summer by a 10-minute boat ride from Cape Dorset or on foot (a sometimes wet scramble across the tidal flats, with caution as to the state of the tide). When trekking to the island at low tide, you may pass people from the community out digging clams in the flats. Guides are available to take you to the park by boat and add immeasurably to the experience; they are able to share stories of the land and interpret the structures far better than simply reading about them in a guidebook. The park centre in Cape Dorset can help you arrange a trip. Camping is ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e permitted on the island, and the park centre can also help you by suggesting good sites. Polar bears, though rarely seen in the park, are always a concern. In winter and spring, walking or snowmobiling across the ice to Mallikjuaq is easy and the time on the island is not constrained by the tides, although the sea ice itself rises and falls with the tides. Hunters and travelers establish trails through the jumbled shore ice to the smoother sea ice, and skiers or snowmobilers can easily follow these. Operators offer guided trips to the island with a tour of the ancient structures and a snack or lunch. In any season, travelling with a local operator will add to your comfort level, and you will learn far more than trekking alone. Dogteam trips to the island are also frequently available, and great fun. It’s a thrill to set out behind a team of excited Canadian Inuit dogs (Nunavut’s official animal), flying along over the snow with the only sound the huff of the dogs’ breath and the whisper of the runners on the snow. Sitting down to have lunch and hot tea on the sled, surrounded by snoozing sled dogs and the exquisite arctic scenery leaves memories with you forever. You’ll hear stories of life on the land from people who likely spent their childhood in small camps, traveling with their families to good fishing spots or places where caribou or seals could reliably be caught. Don’t forget to spend time in Cape Dorset itself, an important and interesting part of your experience. Established around a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post in 1913, Cape Dorset has the highest per capita number of artists of any community in Canada. Art is an ancient heritage here, from the tiny carvings of the Pre-Dorset and beautiful bone and ivory figures carved by the Dorset, to the utilitarian Thule implements, and the great variety of art created by today’s Inuit. The West Baffin Eskimo Co-op produces and sells an internationally renowned series of prints, and carvings, jewellery, and original flat art pieces are readily available. The Mallikjuaq Park Centre, located in Cape Dorset, displays many artifacts from the area and portrays the history of Dorset and Mallikjuaq Islands, and is a good starting point.

Northwest Passage Trail


The small Nunavut community of Gjoa Haven is located on King William Island, right on the historic Northwest Passage and home to the Northwest Passage Trail which meanders within the community, all within easy walking distance from the hotel. A series of signs, a printed guide, and a display of artifacts in the hamlet office interpret the local Inuit culture, exploration of the Northwest Passage, and the story of the Gjoa and Roald Amundsen. It is quite an experience to walk the shores of history here, learning of the exploration of the North, and the lives of the people who helped the explorers. Back in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a huge effort was put forth by Europeans to locate a passage across northern North America to connect the European nations with the riches of the Orient. From the east, many ships entered Hudson Bay and Lancaster Sound, mapping the routes and seeking a way through the ice-choked waters and narrow channels to the Pacific Ocean and straight sailing to the oriental lands and profitable trading. The only other routes were perilous – rounding Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America or the Cape of Good Hope at the southern end of Africa. As a result, many expeditions were launched to seek a passage through the arctic archipelago. Northwest Passage Trail N u n a v u t Pa r k s & S p e c i a l P l a c e s – E d i t o r i a l S e r i e s Ja n u a r y , 2 0 0 8 A u s s i d i s p o n i b l e e n f ra n ç a i s xgw8Ns 7uJ 5 wk 5tg 5 P i l a a k t u t I n u i n a q t u t The British explorer John Franklin led three expeditions into the arctic. On the first two, he and his men mapped the arctic coast from Point Barrow, Alaska to Point Turnagain on the Kent Peninsula. On the third expedition, in 1845, Franklin’s two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, entered through Lancaster Sound. They wintered at Beechey Island, leaving there in the summer of 1846, and vanished – and with only a couple of exceptions, their boats and their bodies have not been found since. Had he completed this expedition, he would have mapped the entire Northwest Passage. But, neither he nor his entire crew completed the trip. They were lost in the Arctic, along the shores of King William Island. Through the efforts of the Royal Navy, and Lady Jane Franklin, John Franklin’s wife, at least 29 expeditions were launched to seek Franklin and his men, or evidence of their fate. These endeavours resulted in the mapping of much of the eastern portion and some of the western portion of the archipelago, and go down in history as one of the greatest mysteries and sea stories of all time. But, the first ship through the Northwest Passage was not a British ship at all; it was the tiny single-masted Norwegian herring boat, the Gjoa, captained by Roald Amundsen. Amundsen and his crew were experienced; he took advantage of everything he was able to learn from Inuit along the way, and he was lucky. As the winter of 1903 closed in, they discovered a protected small bay, which Amundsen labeled, “The best little harbour in the world”, and called it Gjoa Haven. They spent the winters of 1904 and 1905 locked into this harbour by unrelenting ice. During this time, Amundsen located the North Magnetic Pole, and recorded huge amounts of data about the arctic climate and magnetic fields. In August of 1905, they made their way west through shallow and narrow channels and dangerous ice to where the passage widened into the Queen Maud Gulf. Here, they met an American ship out of San Francisco, and learned they had indeed conquered the Northwest Passage. His successful navigation of the Northwest Passage occurred because of the cumulative knowledge of various expeditions and because he was the first to adopt a major part of the hunting, fishing and tool-making techniques of the Netsilik people of King William Island. Wander through history At the Northwest Passage Trail in the community of Gjoa Haven, visitors can, through illustrations and text on interpretive signs, “journey” on a historical route to learn about the land that was home to Amundsen and his six crewmen from 1903 until 1906, and about the people who still are very much at home in this land. Signs along the trail describe the observations taken by Amundsen and his crew to collect data that allowed them to locate the exact position of the North Magnetic Pole at that time. Other signage overlooks the former moorage of the Gjoa in the harbour. Stand on the hill above the little bay and imagine the hardships of the six men of this expedition who spent two years here, learning from the local people, a bit more than a hundred years ago. Other stops are at a gravesite, and near the site of the old Hudson Bay trading post. A visit to the Northwest Passage Information Centre in the hamlet building allows the visitor to enjoy displays about the various discoveries of the remains of the Franklin expedition, theories as to the fate of Franklin’s ships, and some of the text of Amundsen’s journal. Also on display are some artifacts from the expedition and from old campsites around the area. Travelling to the Park Dog team or snowmobile tours are frequently available from the community of Gjoa Haven, especially in spring, when the days are long and the temperatures mild. It’s an unforgettable experience to discover this land from a dog team, traveling as Inuit used to travel and learning about the powerful and adaptable Inuit dog that accompanied the Inuit across the Bering Land Bridge so long ago. Travelling by snowmobile allows ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e you to go further, faster, and explore more country, perhaps some of the very areas where members of the Franklin expedition starved to death almost 160 years ago. From May to August, you can experience the midnight sun – Gjoa Haven is above the Arctic Circle – and its unending daylight in summer. Travel out from the community onto the trackless tundra by all-terrain vehicle, to see ancient campsites and hunting areas. On the land, you may see caribou, muskox, or arctic foxes or hares. Occasionally, arctic wolves or even a polar bear may be spotted. In late springtime or in summer, you may see snowy owls, snow geese, white-fronted geese, tundra swans, peregrine falcons or gyrfalcons, and king or common eider ducks

Ovayok Territorial Park


Long ago, there were three giants, Ovayok, Inuuhuktuq, and Amatok. They came from the sea to the north of Victoria Island (Gelinik), where they had been eating seals, walrus, and whales. Travelling overland, they could not find food, because they were not used to eating small animals like caribou and muskox, and died. The woman, Amatok, collapsed and died first, and then the boy, Inuuhuktuq, then the man, Ovayok. Their bodies turned into mountains, which remain there today. So goes the legend of the three mountains on Victoria Island near Cambridge Bay. Today the 200 metre high mountain called Ovayok is part of Ovayok Territorial Park. It is 16 kilometres from Cambridge Bay, and is accessible by road, a 30 minute drive or 4 to 6 hour hike. Ovayok has always been an important stopping place in the seasonal movements of the Copper Inuit (Gelinikmeot). They moved inland in summer to hunt caribou, and back to the coast in the fall. The area around Ovayok was an important area for fishing and hunting waterfowl during migrations, so the people spent time here in spring and fall. They built many stone caches to store winter clothing and hunting gear that they did not need to take inland. A prime attraction of Ovayok Territorial Park is its wildlife and birdlife. There is an excellent chance of seeing umingmak, or muskox (“the shaggy ones”) in the park, as there is a herd which stays in the area year-round. Sometimes they can be seen from the road on the way to the park, and sometimes hiking is necessary to see them. These relatives of the goat are 1.2 – 1.5 metres tall and dark brown with long flowing guard hairs. They shed their undercoat (qiviut) in summer, and at that time appear to have a light “saddle” on their backs. Herds are best observed from a distance. Cows are concerned about their calves and will flee when approached on foot. Bulls, Ovayok Territorial Park N u n a v u t Pa r k s & S p e c i a l P l a c e s – E d i t o r i a l S e r i e s Ja n u a r y , 2 0 0 8 A u s s i d i s p o n i b l e e n f ra n ç a i s xgw8Ns 7uJ 5 wk 5tg 5 P i l a a k t u t I n u i n a q t u t especially lone bulls, are less afraid, and can be aggressive. Photograph muskoxen from a distance, with a good telephoto lens! Caribou are also frequently seen in the park. These are referred to as “island caribou” and are likely a hybrid between the barrenland caribou and the endangered Peary caribou found only in the arctic islands. They are smaller and have heads that are more triangular than barrenland caribou, but are larger and a bit darker than Peary caribou. This herd migrates to the mainland in winter, crossing the Coronation Gulf on the ice. As a result, the “island caribou” is susceptible to problems that are caused by climate change, especially the late formation of solid sea ice. Arctic foxes and arctic hares are often seen in the park. These are white in winter and brown and tan in summer, so are a bit hard to spot – look for movement and then try to pick out the animal. Voles and lemmings are also found in the park, and their burrows, runs, and nests of tangled grasses can be seen, usually at the bottom of slopes or edges of wetlands. A summer trip to the park is a birder’s dream. The tundra pond areas around and in the park support large breeding populations of arctic birds, and the road provides easy access to their nesting habitat. With a good spotting scope, many of these arctic nesters can be observed doing courtship displays or rearing their young. Some of these species are not easily observed anywhere else in the world during the breeding season. These special birds include the yellow-billed loon, king eider duck, snowy owl, and a host of shorebirds including the black-bellied plover, red phalarope, ruddy turnstone, red knot, and sanderling. Many birders see these on migration in the south, but few have the opportunity to see them in their glorious breeding plumage. Red phalaropes, for example, winter at sea, so are seldom seen except in very restricted northern areas. To be able to drive to find nesting red phalaropes is very special indeed. Yellow-billed, Pacific, and red-throated loons, tundra swans, long-tailed and king eider ducks nest on the edges of the tundra ponds. Shorebirds nest between ponds, or on the gravel slopes, and can be seen feeding anywhere there is exposed mud. Black-bellied and golden plovers nest on the tundra uplands. The red-necked and red phalaropes spin like little tops in shallow tundra ponds, feeding on small invertebrates dislodged by their busy feet. Sandhill cranes forage on the open tundra or in wetland areas, seeking mostly lemmings. Because of their size, it is easy to spot these big birds, and their courtship displays are marvels of grace and agility. Snowy owls nest on hummocks or small hills, and also hunt voles and lemmings on the tundra. Peregrine falcons and rough-legged hawks nest on the steep sides of several ridges on the northeast side of Ovayok. Long-tailed, pomarine, and parasitic jaegers nest in the park. Look for dark gull-like birds, sometimes harassing gulls or nesting snowy owls. Willow and rock ptarmigans are around all year, though not as common in winter. These feed on the buds of the woody plants. Ovayok has relatively few plant species but many of these bloom in great profusion in July. Purple mountain saxifrage, mountain avens, cushion oxytrope, arctic poppies, and moss campion occur on the mountain crest and in gravel areas. Arctic white heather, large-flowered lousewort, woolly lousewort, and mountain sorrel are common on the slopes, and purple bladder campion, bistort, and arctic cotton in the wetlands. Travelling Through the Park There are 22 kilometres of trails in Ovayok Territorial Park. Each of the five trails are marked with numbered and colour-coded posts and interpretive panels that coordinate with a printed guidebook, but the surfaces are not altered or prepared in any way so visitors are encouraged to wear appropriate footwear. The short Cycle of Seasons Trail leads from the trailhead at the entrance southwest down the lower slopes and passes by many old campsites with stone tent rings, storage caches, and waiting places (taluit) where the people awaited the return of the caribou. The Tolemaqk Trail leads from the park entrance trailhead southeast along the lower slope of the mountain, and circles two small lakes. Muskoxen are often seen in this area. Tolemaqk means “ribs” and refers to the parallel ridges above – the “ribs of the giant”. This trail connects to the short Neakoa Trail, which runs southeast to a wonderful archaeological site on the shore of a large lake, with many tent rings. The Ovayok ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e Trail ascends the southwestern slope of the mountain, and circles the summit, with great views out across the lowlands and down into the “Giant’s Ribs” gorges. It’s a good place to look for peregrines, rough-legged hawks, caribou, and muskox. The longest trail (8 kilometres) is the Keakoa Kengmetkoplo Trail, which heads north from the Neakoa Trail at the southeast end of the park. It circles the mountain along the lower slopes and joins the Ovayok Trail about halfway up the slope to the summit of the mountain. This trail is best done as a two-day hike, camping at Neakoa. The Ovayok Territorial Park Guidebook is very helpful in exploring this park and contains maps and good information including lists of birds, mammals and plants. It is available at the Arctic Coast Visitors’ Centre in Cambridge Bay, which provides a good introduction to the natural history, history, and Inuit culture of the region through displays of artifacts, clothing, and artwork, as well as maps and photographic exhibits. On display is an old caribou skin kayak, and a very large kudluk (stone lamp) historically used in a dance iglu. A large map displays the routes of many of the expeditions that searched for the Northwest Passage. Elders often gather at the centre for coffee, and there is a small library of northern books. The visitors’ centre is staffed full time during the year and for extended hours in summer. In the centre, showers are available for use by campers.

Qaummaarviit Territorial Parkscreen-shot-2016-10-28-at-14-30-28

Southwest of Iqaluit, near the head of Peterhead Inlet, lies a small island called Qaummaarviit. Grassy swales alternate with rocky bedrock hills and colourful heath tundra on this attractive island, which bears some of the best-preserved examples of structures made by Inuit prior to the coming of outsiders to this land, truly providing a window into the past. Artifacts and structures on the island attest to 750 years of occupation by the Thule and modern Inuit. People probably spent a large part of the winter here, hunting caribou on the adjacent mainland and seals on the ice of the bay. The bones of a number of species of sea mammals found on the island indicate that the hunting was very good here. The remains of 11 semi-subterranean winter houses are marked by lush green grasses and mosses due to enrichment of the site. Tightly fitting stones delineate living spaces from sleeping areas. The deep entryways trapped cold air and kept the warmer air within the house from leaking out. Skin roofs supported by whale jawbones and ribs were covered with snow blocks, creating relatively comfortable winter homes that were heated by qulliit (stone lamps). As the climate warmed after the “Little Ice Age” of the mid-1800s, the floe edge was closer to the head of Frobisher Bay, and people seemed to rely less on the island. A bit later, modern equipment like the rifle, snowmobiles and motorboats replaced the spear and bow, dog team, umiak and qayaq of the past, and people became more mobile, and able to hunt more efficiently. Eventually most people moved away from the small camps on the land to communities like Iqaluit and Kimmirut, and people still travel all over Frobisher Bay and the Meta Incognita Peninsula to hunt. Qaummaarviit Territorial Park N u n a v u t Pa r k s & S p e c i a l P l a c e s – E d i t o r i a l S e r i e s Ja n u a r y , 2 0 0 8 A u s s i d i s p o n i b l e e n f ra n ç a i s ᐊᑐᐃᓐᓇᐅ ᒻᒥᔪᑦ ᐃᓄᑦᑎᑐᑦ P i l a a k t u t I n u i n a q t u t Today, a boardwalk and trail link structures and historical sites on the island, permitting visitors to appreciate its place in the Inuit culture without disturbing the ground or the sites. Two of the houses studied by archaeologists have been left open so the structure can be seen. Tiny stone tools found in the sod walls of the Thule houses were traced to the Dorset people who likely occupied this island prior to the Thule. There are also many stone tent rings, storage caches, kayak stands, and even a grave on this island. Interpretive signs illustrated by detailed watercolours help visitors understand the stories of the island and its inhabitants. A printed guidebook, available at the Unikkaarvik Visitors’ Centre in Iqaluit, clarifies the stories with illustrations of the tools, hunting implements, and sculptures of Thule, Tunnit (Dorset), and modern Inuit. Visitors are asked to stay on the trail to protect the delicate vegetation around the ancient structures. Since Qaummaarviit Territorial Park is located on an island about 12 kilometres from Iqaluit, it is accessible as a day trip by boat in summer and by snowmobile and dogteam when the sea ice permits. In spring, a dogteam tour to the island with any of a number of local outfitters is an unforgettable experience, from the exciting “take-off ” in Iqaluit with the dogs barking and lunging, anxious to get going, to the thrilling dash through the jumbled ice of the tidal zone. Then, they settle down for the run across the bay to Peterhead Inlet, trotting smoothly along. It’s quite an experience to approach this island in the traditional way, reflecting on the old times when the dogteam was the only way of winter travel, times when the people depended entirely upon their own skills and ingenuity for food and shelter. Then, the dogs stop, the qamutik is anchored, and visitors hike up onto the land and along the boardwalk, stepping back in time, so to speak, exploring the past as it is written on the land. In summer, boat tours to Qaummaarviit also provide opportunities to look for birds and sea mammals – visitors may see ringed seals, belugas, or walrus, and, with luck, might glimpse the long black back of arvik, the bowhead whale, or even narwhals. Peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, and ravens nest on the cliffs of the island and adjacent mainland, and long-tailed ducks, eiders, or guillemots are always possible in summer. Caribou migrate along the mainland near the island, and can be spotted from boats. Families or hunters going out on the land often stop at the island, so visitors may encounter people going about their traditional way of life near the island. Travelling to the Park Occasionally, special tours are run to Qaummaarviit, especially to celebrate Canada Day or Nunavut Day in July. You may also get a chance to participate in, or witness special cultural demonstrations including drum dances, throat singing, storytelling, or traditional games. At these special events, many boats make the trip to the island, echoing the gatherings of the people in the past. To ensure that the ancient structures are not disturbed, camping is not permitted on the island. Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park in Iqaluit offers camping facilities. Operators in Iqaluit run tours to the island, and will provide snacks or meals, and interpretation. Visiting the island with a local guide ensures better understanding of the sites, and is an enjoyable way to get to know the local people. Stop by the Unikkaarvik Visitors’ Centre in Iqaluit and view colourful displays and artifacts representing the rich culture and history of the area. Staff can help you with further information on Qaummaarviit Territorial Park and other local attractions.

Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park


Dark grey cumulus clouds contrast with the lush green of the tundra. Rain showers march across distant hills, and the sunlight shines silver on the sea. Brilliant magenta and pink dwarf fireweed lines the sides of the paths, and yellow poppies create fluorescent spots on the gravel ridges. In between, the slopes are crowded with flowers – white mouse-eared chickweed and bistort like tiny candles, clusters of brooklet saxifrage in wet seeps, and white bladder-campion with shining petals over inflated capsules, minute greenhouses sheltering developing seeds. The hoarse cry of a raven breaks the stillness, a rough-legged hawk circles in the sky, playing tag with the clouds, and an arctic hare hops away with casual indifference, a tuft of grass hanging from its mouth. Below, the river sings its constant song – the ballad of the rapids. In the distance, fishermen cast their lures into the rushing stream in hopes of interesting a passing arctic char, and the shouts of children echo from the hillsides as they play around a picnic table. It is a summer afternoon in Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, and the tundra flaunts its summer majesty. This is the Arctic at its gentlest – a cape of green across the rocky hillsides. It is close to town, and families frequently escape to the peaceful hillsides to picnic after work. This attractive river is also popular for canoeing and kayaking river, plus offers good char fishing from late spring to early fall. Low falls at the lower end of the river become a series of big rapids at high tide. For the newcomer to Nunavut, or for someone with a limited amount of time to spend on the land, this park is a marvelous introduction to the Nunavut landscape and ecology. Low rocky Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park N u n a v u t Pa r k s & S p e c i a l P l a c e s – E d i t o r i a l S e r i e s Ja n u a r y , 2 0 0 8 A u s s i d i s p o n i b l e e n f ra n ç a i s ᐊᑐᐃᓐᓇᐅ ᒻᒥᔪᑦ ᐃᓄᑦᑎᑐᑦ P i l a a k t u t I n u i n a q t u t hills alternate with sedge meadows along the river and heath tundra on the slopes. Colourful lichens create patterns on the rocks, and the rocks themselves tell a story of tectonic movements in the earth and later polishing by huge continental ice sheets. Tundra nesting birds like Lapland longspurs, horned larks, redpolls, and snow buntings enliven the land with their songs and courtship in spring. Peregrine falcons and roughlegged hawks nest on cliffs nearby and hunt over the park all summer. It’s a birdwatcher’s delight, as more than 40 species of birds have been recorded from the park. Caribou, arctic hares, ptarmigan, and arctic foxes are frequently sighted from the hiking trail or by hikers out on the land, and in some years, lemmings are common in the low areas along the river. The river has in the past harboured an abundance of arctic char, but a commercial fishery during the 1940s, 50s and 60s resulted in declining char populations, and the commercial fishery closed in 1965. The populations are gradually rebounding, and fishing for arctic char is now frequently quite good, especially in mid- to late summer. (Licenses are necessary, and there are strict limits to the catch.) The tides in Frobisher Bay average about 8-9 metres, so fishermen must take care when walking in any area that appears to be inundated by salt water, as the tide comes in relatively quickly. Hiking Trails Several trails offer different levels of hiking through these landscapes. The River Valley Hiking Route winds over the hills and down into the river valley near the entrance of the park. This trail provides easy hiking and there are benches at overlooks, which adds to the comfort of using the trail for elders and small children. Interpretive signs along this trail add dimension and enjoyment to a visit to this park. The River Valley route offers good birding along the river and coast, through tundra, boulder fields and gravel shelves. The Hilltop and Meadows routes offers unobstructed views from the high points in the park, and crosses bedrock outcrops and tundra meadows. Both trails are largely “unstructured” – with only trail markers to guide your hike. The American explorer Charles Francis Hall, seeking a passage through Baffin Island in 1860, named the Sylvia Grinnell River for the granddaughter of a family friend and benefactor. But, the park area has importance long before Hall. Just outside the park boundary to the south of the falls, on the east side of the river, lies one of the most important archaeological sites in Nunavut, the Crystal II site. It contains three semi-subterranean houses representative of the Thule culture, but artifacts from the older Dorset culture were also found here, indicating a longer occupation. The site provided important evidence of the distinctions between the Dorset and Thule cultures as it was occupied by Dorset, and then abandoned. A layer of vegetation developed, which separates the evidence of Dorset use from later use by the Thule people. The site is marked by a small plaque. The area around and below the falls was undoubtedly used by the original inhabitants of the park, and there are many signs of human use. The present landscape in Sylvia Grinnell Park was sculpted by immense ice sheets from the Laurentide Glaciation, which retreated from this part of the arctic about 7100 years ago. Ice some 400 metres thick scoured the land and left deposits on the southeastern sides of ridges and escarpments. The weight of the ice sheet depressed the land, and it has rebounded about 12 metres since relieved of the weight of the ice. Glacial rebound beaches are visible as horizontal terraces along the hillsides. Travelling to the Park A visit to Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, is not complete without a visit to this jewel, located about a kilometre from town, a 30-minute walk via a road that passes around the south end of the airport. Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park centres around the lower third of the Sylvia Grinnell River, which flows into Frobisher Bay slightly to the southwest of the airport. Brilliant magenta and pink dwarf fireweed lines the sides of the paths, and yellow poppies create fluorescent spots on the gravel ridges. ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e ᑲᔾᔮᓇᖅᑐᖅ k a t j a q n a a q l i s t e n t o t h e l a n d a l i a n n a k t u k e n o s m o s e a v e c l a t e r r e The park is used by snowmobilers, dog sledders and cross-country skiers in winter and spring, and is close enough to be accessed easily by skiing from Iqaluit. A spring ski into the park, when the snow buntings are returning and the ptarmigan are courting, when the days are long and the snow sparkles under your skis, is sheer heaven, and one of the wonders of arctic life. Facilities in the park include comfort stations near the parking areas, barbecue pits, picnic facilities, and a viewing platform There is no fee for either day use or camping. The park pavillion overlooks the falls, and can be rented for special events. Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park is accessible to large numbers of people and provides an arctic experience for many people who visit Iqaluit but do not go further into Nunavut. It is a real treasure, so close to the capital. The park’s Master Plan will see the park cross the Sylvia Grinnell River, extending all the way to Qaummaarviit Territorial Park, near the head of Peterhead Inlet, providing multi-day wilderness experiences right in Nunavut’s capital city. At Qaummaarviit, grassy swales alternate with rocky bedrock hills and colourful heath tundra on this attractive island, which bears some of the best-preserved examples of structures made by Inuit prior to the coming of outsiders to this land, truly providing a window into the past. Operators in Iqaluit offer day trips by vehicle to the interpretive trail part of the park, and, during the snow season, trips by snowmobile to the entire park. During the open-water season, operators offer trips by boat for picnics and hiking in this park. Some operators rent kayaks or canoes for short trips on the Sylvia Grinnell River.