Kugluk (Bloody Falls) Territorial Park in the central Arctic is one of Nunavut’s few parks with a shared history between the Inuit and the Dene Indians. Unfortunately, this history has not always been friendly. In fact, the falls got their English name in 1771, when European explorer Samuel Hearne witnessed the massacre of unsuspecting Inuit by a group of Dene warriors with whom he was traveling.
Located on the west side of the Coppermine River, 15 km from the community of Kugluktuk, Kugluk (Bloody Falls) Territorial Park covers an 8.5 square-kilometre area. The park is centered on the falls, where the broad, swift-flowing River is forced into a narrow channel of vigorously boiling rapids and twisting eddies. Inuit refer to the campsite below the falls as Onoagahiovik, the place where you “stay all night,” a name that refers to fishing, which even today is an integral part of their lives.
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 flights to Kugluktuk from Yellowknife, and Kenn Borek flies from Cambridge Bay to Kugluktuk regularly. Please check with the airlines for schedule changes.
Licensed outfitters will also take you on a 45-minute trip to the park by motorboat. Trips cost around $70 per person, slightly less per person for groups of up to four people. Bring a picnic lunch if your guide isn’t supplying one. Note that the river is sometimes shallow, especially in August and September, so you may have to hike the last one or two kilometres to Bloody Falls.
The park can also be visited in winter, although it is highly recommended you do so with an outfitter who is familiar with the area, since blowing snow can obliterate landmarks in a frighteningly brief period of time. The falls and the river will be frozen, although water continues to run below the ice.
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
Kugluk (Bloody Falls) Territorial Park Editorial [.pdf – 917KB] – This four page editorial offers information on Kugluk (Bloody Falls) Territorial Park.
Visitor information is available from the Visitor Information section of the website, and at relevant visitor and information centres throughout Nunavut. Contact Nunavut Parks for any additional information you may be looking for.
Header photo by David Ho, 2013