The tundra of the Northwest Territories
In Canada, tundra occupies about 307,500 square miles, according to the World Wildlife Foundation. It is found in the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, and the territories of Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. While remote and frigid during winter months, traveling to the Canadian tundra during warmer summer months offers visitors opportunities to experience and explore the scenic mountains and plains of the north.
Tundra in the Yukon is found in the north of the territory. Tombstone Territorial Park in the Ogilvie Mountains features a sub-arctic, tundra wilderness. Although the tundra ecoregion is generally found several hundred miles north of the park, its southernmost extent reaches the park. Tombstone’s terrain is treeless with shrubs and ground plants. Although the park features a few campgrounds and established hiking trails, it is primarily a destination for backcountry camping and hiking. Permits from the Tombstone Interpretive Centre are required to camp in the backcountry.
Herds of barren-ground caribou roam the taiga forests and tundra of the Northwest Territories. In the summer the landscape is a colorful mix of wildflowers in bloom, golden grasses and purple and crimson hues on the leaves of shrubs and bushes that match their berries. Above the Arctic Circle, the Tuktut Nogait National Park features about 10,000 square miles of tundra and river canyons. Guided paddling excursions are offered during the summer through the park’s upper Hornaday River.
About 24 percent of Quebec is covered by tundra. Quebec’s north is known as Nunavik, a remote region accessible by air and inhabited mostly by the Inuit. Nunavik features forest tundra in the south and arctic tundra in the north. During brief summers, the region boosts 500 plant species and 160 vertebrate species, including migratory birds and caribou. The Ungava Tundra Plateau in the northwest features low granite hills, scattered boulders and cliffs of almost 2,000 feet at the edge of the Hudson Strait. Two provincial parks in Nunavik — the Parc national des Pingualuit and the Parc national Kuururjuaq — offer visitors backcountry hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities as well as camping and boating.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Northern Labrador is part of the tundra ecoregion of Canada. Like other areas of the tundra, polar bears and caribou can be found in Labrador. Other wildlife found in the tundra of Labrador include the musk ox, arctic wolf, arctic fox, arctic hare, lemmings and voles, as well as migratory birds that lay their eggs in the region during the spring. The Torngat Mountains National Park in Labrador’s northern tip features backcountry hiking, mountain climbing, camping and skiing opportunities. Inuit continue to fish and hunt in the park, and visitors can opt to tour the park with an Inuit guide.
Nunavut is one-fifth the size of Canada and home to 28 communities separated by hundreds of miles of tundra. Road transportation is limited so traveling to and within Nunavut is generally done by air. Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island offers remote, backcountry camping and hiking among scenic valleys and towering mountains. Along the Akshayuk Pass, the Owl River Valley (Inatiavaluk) is a tundra valley in the northern half of the pass that features a permanently frozen landscape except for a thin layer on the surface.