The Northwest Territories (NWT) Region of Canada is a more northern region of Canada often associated with the Arctic Tundra but is better described as both tundra and boreal forest. A boreal forest is a warmer climate than tundra, and it consists of snowy green pine and spruce forests that approach the treeline of the tundra. Separate zones within the territory have a distinct landscape that sets one zone apart from another. The zones, generally categorized by highways and landmarks, make the Northwest Territories remote, yet accessible for road travel.
The Twin Falls Gorge Louise Falls Campground is located within the Waterfalls Route off of Highway 1. The route is known for its scenic forest hikes, cascading waterfalls, and it’s rivers and lakes. The Waterfalls Route begins just past the 60th parallel from Alberta when the Alberta Highway changes from Alberta Highway 35 to the NWT Highway 1.
The route passing through the NWT Waterfall Region has a rich history wrapped in indigenous roots. Locals often call the NWT Highway 1 Route the Mackenzie Highway. Signage along the highway displays symbols of a quill and a knife. The quill represents Sir Alexander Mackenzie, who was the first person to record the history of the people of this area of the NWT. The knife pays respect to the indigenous people and the trapping history of this region — people taking the Mackenzie Highway experience remote wilderness and roadways and the calming silence of the NWT.
The roads in the Northwest Territory are both paved and packed gravel. While the roads are maintained, it is important to know that the tundra and permafrost cause divots in the road and may impact road conditions, when traveling by RV, slow if the road becomes bumpy with holes or loose gravel.
While driving in the NWT, always have your headlights on, look for wildlife crossing the road, and keep a safe distance between vehicles to reduce flying gravel. Some of the routes have river and ferry crossings, always check your driving conditions ahead of time to know if the route has ice or other natural conditions that might impact your planned journey. Plan your gas stops ahead of time, as there is a considerable distance between many of the fill-up areas.
Cell phone coverage varies through the NWT. Bring a detailed map, so you don’t have to rely on cell phone coverage to get to your desired location. Prepare your vehicle with an emergency road kit, and extra food, water, and blankets. Many of the camping areas have cell phone service, and the Twin Falls Gorge Louise Falls Campground has both cell phone service and a Wifi connection.
The Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park begins at mile 44.7 (72 km) of the Mackenzie Highway and leads to the Louise Falls Campground, located at mile 46.4 (74.6 km).
The Louise Falls Campground is a three-loop, leashed-pet friendly campground that rests close to the Hay River Ravine overlooking the three-tiered Louise Falls. The campground operates during peak season and offers sites that provide either 15 or 30 amp electrical hookups. Each space has a fire ring, picnic table, and a grill, and the sites have pull-through, gravel driveways that accommodate RVs and trailers over 30 feet long. If you have specific questions about RV lengths, contact the park. The campground has many amenities like drinking water, restrooms, showers, a playground, and a dump station, and hiking trails that weave throughout the facility. Water is trucked into the campgrounds, and only certain camping areas provide RV water. RVs needing onboard water must go to the Hay River Visitor Information Center to fill up. Please adhere to the park’s quiet hours and silence all generators and noise making equipment during the hours of 10:30 pm to 7:00 am.
RVers who love to gather local information, collect souvenirs, and plan their trips with the help of a park guide should visit the 60th Parallel Visitor Information Centre. The 60th Parallel Visitor Information Centre is located along the Mackenzie Highway / NWT Highway 1 at mile 0 (0 km). One of the favorite activities at this location is capturing a photo near the entrance to chronicle your journey to the area. The building is open seasonally and has water, restrooms, maps, fishing licenses, camping permits, and interpretive information about the vicinity. Be sure to ask for your North of 60 Certificate to commemorate your journey. It’s a must for anyone traveling into the Northwest Territories.
One of the highlights of staying in the Louise Falls Campground is that campers have access to the cascading waters of Louise Falls, the largest waterfall in Twin Fall Gorge Territorial Park. The falls are 114 feet (34.7 m) high and are visible from the viewing platform built over the Hay River Canyon. To get to the falls, take a short trail, and a proceed to the 138-step viewing platform. Walk carefully across the platform and watch for slippery areas on the stairs. The mist from the waterfall creates wet surfaces if the wind is blowing in the direction of the stairs and the platform.
The smaller of the two falls in the Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park is Alexandra Falls. The Alexandra Falls day use area is located at mile 44.7 (72km). Campers staying at the Louise Falls Campground have two options to view the falls. Driving to the day use area is a short drive, about 2 miles (3.21 km) away. Campers can also walk using the (1.24) 2 km trail that connects Louise Falls to Alexandra Falls. The viewing area is located just off the Alexandra Falls parking lot.
Both Alexandra Falls and Louise Falls have day use areas. People come to the day use areas even if they don’t plan on staying at the Louise Falls Campground. Both day use areas have boardwalks and hiking paths that lead to the waterfall viewing areas. Both locations have restrooms, scenic viewpoints, sheltered picnic tables, and interpretive information posted. The Louise Falls day use area also has a playground and drinking water. Plan to split your time between both day use areas to have different scenic views of the stunning falls.
If you plan to visit the area during late fall through early spring, then there is a good chance of spotting one of nature’s most stunning natural phenomenons, the northern lights. The northern lights, or aurora borealis, appear in the NWT because of the location of the earth and the months of almost complete darkness. Spotting the elusive lights isn’t always easy, because the conditions have to align. Consider taking an aurora day trip. Local companies plan day time adventures with aurora sightseeing at night. The tour groups bring you to the areas where the lights are most often spotted, so you don’t have to worry about chasing the lights, because the hard work is done for you!
Winter adventure is abundant in the NWT because the snow is present longer than it is melted. Instead of staying indoors, opt for a fun activity that brings together nature and animals. Team up with experienced mushers and tour the area in a dog sled. Many local companies offer dog sledding adventures from overnight tours to short day trips. If you are interested in sled dogs and learning about the sport, but you don’t want to try out sledding, then visit one of the dog sledding companies and ask about petting the puppies and learning a little more about the fun winter activity.