Torngat Mountains National Park

Abode of the spirits

The Inuit refer to the far northern tip of Labrador as Torngait, the place of the spirits. It is thought that it is the home of Torngarsuak, the Inuit Great Spirit. To outsiders it is known for its deep fiords, the highest mountains east of the rockies, some of the world's oldest rocks, the only tundra-dwelling population of black bears, and polar bears. Lots of polar bears. It also has a rich Inuit history - people have lived in the area for thousands of years. More recently, the Moravian missionaries established several missions in the area. Reason enough to protect the area as Torngat Mountains National Park.

Access

The park, 9,700 sq.km, is probably one of the most difficult parks in Canada to reach. Even the parks in Nunavut are easier to get to. It's not only the remoteness, but especially the weather and fericious winds that make getting here an adventure in itself.

If the weather is good, then the park is about 1 hours' flying or up to two days by fishing boat north of Nain, Labrador's northernmost community. There are no scheduled flights or boats to the park, and once you arrive, there are no facilities.

Safety is a real concern, as polar bears roam throughout the park. Since only Inuit are allowed to carry arms, visitors should always be accompanied by an Inuit guide. A good idea in any case, as the area is also infamous for its quickly changing weather and strong "ghost" winds that can appear out of nowhere.

Visiting the park

Due to the difficult logistics and its reputation for bad weather, there are currently very few if any organized treks into the park. Nature Trek has led expeditions into the park, but in the future they may only plan occasional treks, due to the extreme logistical challenges involved with organizing them.

It is possible to visit the park by cruise ship; Adventure Canada, Cruise North, and Wildland Tours operate occasional cruises to the park.

Seasons

The best months to visit the park are July - September. The ice doesn't leave the fiords until June, and by the end of September the weather can turn bad. Alteratively, one would have to travel to the park in winter by snowmobile. That would still be a mighty expedition, and polar bears are around in winter as well.

Books on the park

There aren't exactly a lot of books on the Torngats. Jerry Kobalenko wrote an excellent feature article in Canadian Geographic on a kayak trip all the way down the coast of the park (May/June 2007). The magazine also published a backgrounder with the article.

No travel guide covers the park (not surprisingly). Moon's Atlantic Canada guide does the best job for Labrador, but it is still very slim pickings for anything north of Goose Bay.

Additional information

I have posted a series of pictures of Torngat Mountains National Park. Elsewhere, there is not much information about the park on the web. The best sites are: