The Nahanni River Above Virginia Falls in Northwest Territories, Canada

December 1, 2015 - Comment

  The Nahanni River in Northwest Territories, Canada PHOTO: http://everything-everywhere.com/   The South Nahanni River is a major tributary of the Liard River, located roughly 500 kilometres west of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada. It is the centerpiece of Nahanni National Park Reserve. It flows from the Mackenzie Mountains in the west, through the

 

Nahanni River

The Nahanni River in Northwest Territories, Canada

 

The South Nahanni River is a major tributary of the Liard River, located roughly 500 kilometres west of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada. It is the centerpiece of Nahanni National Park Reserve. It flows from the Mackenzie Mountains in the west, through the Selwyn Mountains, growing as it heads east over the majestic Virginia Falls, and finally empties into the Liard River. The Nahanni has a unique geological history. It was formed when the area was a broad flat plain, forming a winding course typical of flatland rivers. As the mountains lifted, the river cut four deep canyons into the rock, maintaining its eccentric course.

The Dene and their ancestors have lived and hunted in the Nahanni area for thousands of years. In the early 19th century, the first Europeans came to the area, seeking fur and gold; however, it wasn’t until the 1950s, with the publishing of Dangerous River by R.M. Patterson that the legends about the region were put to rest and the river finally came to prominence. Since that time, the Nahanni has become one of the prime wilderness rivers in Canada, frequented as a whitewater destination by adventure seekers around the world.

The South Nahanni River originates on the western slopes of Mount Christie of the Mackenzie Mountains, at an elevation of 1,600 metres (5,200 ft). It flows south on the Yukon Northwest Territories border for 10 kilometres (6 mi), then turns south-east into the Northwest Territories at the Moose Ponds. It flows through the Selwyn Mountains, where it receives the waters of the Little Nahanni River, south of the Sapper Range.

East of the Bologna Ridge it turns west, then again south-east. It receives the waters of the Broken Skull River east of the Vampire Peaks Range, then the waters of the Rabittkettle River and Hole in the Wall Creek as it enters the Nahanni National Park Reserve. The river crosses the entire length of the park reserve, and the confluence with the Flat River is also located here. At the eastern limit of the national park it passes between the Liard Range and the Twisted Mountain, where it receives the Jackfish River, then continues in a meandered flow and empties into the Liard River at Nahanni Butte, 90 kilometres (56 mi) north of Fort Liard, at an elevation of 180 metres (590 ft). Note: The South Nahanni River has recently been proven to run 563 kilometres (350 mi).

From headwaters to mouth, the South Nahanni River receives waters from the following tributaries:

The history of the area began 550 million years ago beneath a tropical sea. Here a sedimentary layer of sandstone and limestone formed from the powerful pressure exerted by the sea. Eventually this sea dried up, forming a wide plain upon which the Nahanni River first took its course.

The Nahanni is unique amongst mountainous rivers. It formed long before the mountains ever existed, establishing a winding course typical of prairie rivers. As the mountains rose around it, the Nahanni maintained its course, cutting steep canyons into the land.

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