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The South Slave Circuit

The South Slave Circuit

Take a drive through one of the only regions in the NWT where roadtrips are possible year-round
By Up Here
Feb 09
From the Jan/Feb 2018 Issue

Stop: The Hay River

Get there: Highway 2 from Enterprise

Check out: Grab an inner tube, air mattress or any floating vessel (you can buy a variety of them from the Home Hardware in town) and hop on. A lot of people jump on from riverside backyards, but if you don’t feel like trespassing, you can start at the Buffalo Bridge. From there, it’s about a two-hour float to what locals call the caboose—a day-use area where you’ll find the welcome sign for Hay River.

Stop: Paradise Gardens

Get there: Highway 2 just outside Hay River

Check out: Ever tried Saskatoon berries? You can pick and fill a basket here through the summer. The best time to go is August when the bushes are full of Saskatoons that look like a cross between cranberries and blueberries.

Stop: Pine Point

Get there: Head east on Highway 5 and continue on to Highway 6

Check out: The remnants of this abandoned mining town are a sight unto themselves—there are sidewalks and old parking lots with no buildings of any kind. Rock hounds take note: The area is littered with calcites of varying colours and sizes.

Cracking up: The salt flats at Salt Plains Lookout & Day Use. Photo by Parks Canada.

Stop: Wood Buffalo National Park

Get there: The Salt Plains Lookout and Day Use turn off

Check out: The view of the  salt plains can be different every time you go. On a damp day the area is otherworldly with red sand and glacial erratics. On a hot dry day, it’s coated in a layer of crisp white as the water below evaporates and ancient sea salt crystallizes at the surface.

Stop: Slave River Rapids

Get there: Access road off of Highway 5

Check out: The rapids begin just south of the Alberta border near Fort Fitzgerald. Access roads lead off the highway to each set: Cassette, Pelican, Mountain and Rapids of the Drowned. Make sure to see Beach Three, which is protected from the powerful Mountain Rapids (the third in the set of four). It is great for swimming and you get a view of the unique pelican-nesting site on an island in the middle of the Slave River.