Rich in culture and wildlife, the Coppermine River is one of the most scenic rivers in Canada. Copper deposits found along the river were important to the first peoples who lived along the Coppermine River’s shores. Many important archaeological sites, distinguished by copper artifacts, are found along the Coppermine. It was stories of these deposits that brought Samuel Hearne to the area in 1771 and it was his documented journey to the river and the massacre he witnessed at what is now Bloody Falls (and Kugluk (Bloody Falls) Territorial Park) that brought the Coppermine into the history books. Other explorers, such as Sir John Franklin, soon followed and the Coppermine became an important exploration and fur trade route.
The river brings a tongue of the stunted spruce and birch cover of the boreal forest deep into the tundra, only 40 km from the Arctic Ocean. It is home to moose, caribou and muskox, as well as fox and wolverine. Raptors are found in the river canyon, while peregrine falcon, bald eagle, and rough legged hawk are also common. Today, the river’s landscape and riverscape has been modified only by the forces of wind, water and ice. The community of Kugluktuk at the mouth of the river is the only development and the river still supports the community’s subsistence lifestyle.
No roads lead to Nunavut; our Territory is accessible only by air and sea.
First Air and Canadian North both fly regular daily schedules to Iqaluit from four main southern airline ‘hubs’: Ottawa, Montreal, and Edmonton (via Yellowknife and Rankin Inlet). Flights from Winnipeg (via Churchill and Rankin Inlet) are also available.
First Air operates daily flights to Kugluktuk from Yellowknife. Kenn Borek flies from Cambridge Bay to Kugluktuk regularly. Please check with the airlines for schedule changes.
Access to the Coppermine River is generally by air charter from Yellowknife or a nearby community. It is possible to portage up the river systems from the Snare or Yellowknife Rivers, but this is a long trip with many portages and is recommended only for the hardy adventurer with lots of time.
There are two hotels in Kugluktuk in addition to a community campground.
Aime’s Arctic Tours
Email Coppermine Tours
Tel: 867-982-3232 (Chamber of Commerce)
Visit the Kugluktuk Heritage and Visitors’ Centre (open year-round) for a fascinating introduction to the area’s culture. Here you will find exhibits featuring everything from traditional tools and hunting methods to displays of caribou and sealskin clothing. You may also arrange for a guided interpretive walking tour of the community, or a cultural demonstration featuring traditional skills/pastimes of the Copper Inuit.
The Centre’s gift shop offers an opportunity to view or purchase a variety of locally-crafted items such as stone carvings, jewellery, paintings, wall hangings, traditional clothing, and dolls complete with traditional caribou skin attire.
Kugluktuk Heritage and Visitors’ Centre
Email Kugluktuk Heritage and Visitors’ Centre
Tel: (867) 982-3570
Fax: (867) 982-3573
Coppermine River Nomination Document – [PDF – 1.6 MB)
Draft Coppermine River Management Plan – [PDF – 2 MB) The Coppermine River Management Plan was presented to the Canadian Heritage Rivers Board in June 2008. The Plan has not been formally approved by the CHRS Board.
Coppermine River Editorial – [PDF – 874 KB) This short, four page document is informative and offers information about the Coppermine River.
Visitor information is available from the Visitor Information section of this website, and at relevant visitor and information centres throughout Nunavut. Contact Nunavut Parks for any additional information you may be looking for.