Hornaday River

CanadaNorthwest TerritoriesArctic
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Additional Route Information
160 km
12 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
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Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
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Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Access by float plane from Yellowknife
Start 50 km from headwaters at lat 67° 53` long 121° 24`
(first 50 km of the river is too shallow to paddle)
After approximately 100 km of travel, first cliffs appear
Last location for float planes to land is 8 km before the canyon. The river is impassible by canoe beyond this point.

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:250,000): 
Bloody River 96 P Erly Lake 97 A Brock River 97 P Franklin Bay 97 C
Special Comments: 

Hiking opportunities are fantastic in the canyon area. Most groups allow a few days at the end of their trip to hike up to the canyon and explore before pickup by float plane.


Post date: Wed, 10/26/2011 - 15:35


In 1977, three other kayakers from New York City (Maria Scott, Chuck Rollins, Steve Kahn) and I ran the Hornaday. Instead of putting in near the source of the river, we flew into a large unnamed lake at about 120 degrees 45' and 68 degrees 40' that is the source of a sizeable tributary to the Hornaday. It proved to have plenty of water, and at its confluence, it seemed to have more water than the Hornaday. Being experienced whitewater paddlers, we ran the canyon, carrying around La Ronciere Falls, of course, and then scrambling out of the canyon twice around rapids judged too dangerous to run. Camping inside the canyon was extraordinary. With scouting where possible, running the canyon is an option for experienced kayakers but not, I believe, for even the most experienced canoeists. A few years after our trip, a party of two canoes attempted it but had to abandon their boats and endured a gruelling hike in terrible weather all the way to Paulatuk.