Murder, disappearances, headless corpses and tribes that mysteriously vanish. That’s horror movie fodder – not the kind of thing you’d find in Canada, right? Well, you’ve obviously never been to Nahanni National Park.
You’re forgiven if that name doesn’t exactly flow off your tongue. Many Canadians have never heard of Nahanni National Park (it’s in the Northwest Territories), and yet the few that have may know that Nahanni Park is the subject of some of the creepiest tales in Canadiana. Think Banff Springs Hotel missing room type stuff – but so far out in the wild you can only get there by float plane, and even then it’s two hours to Yellowknife.
Headless Corpses in Nahanni National Park
Nahanni Park is a national park reserve in the Yukon Territory. It’s huge, at over 30,000 square kilometres along the McKenzie mountain range and centred around the South Nahanni River – an awesome whitewater river that unites the ambitiously named First, Second, Third and Fourth canyons.
Virginia Falls and Glacier Lake are other highlights of this spectacular landscape.
So what’s this about a mystery, and headless corpses in the area?
Nahanni National Park was a popular route to the Klondike gold rush (which is, incidentally, where Donald Trump’s grandfather started the Trump family fortune – a Donald Trump Canadian connection few people know about). While no significant gold was found along the Nahanni river, that didn’t stop some men from trying, including Metis prospectors Frank and Willie McLeod, whose headless bodies were found along the river around 1908.
Like you might expect in such a vast area and frontier time, their murders were never solved, and other corpses were discovered, including Swiss prospector Martin Jorgenson, found dead in the ashes of his cabin that had mysteriously burned down, and like the McLeods, a foot shorter at the top.
Indeed, some figures suggest that nearly 44 people had vanished or disappeared from Nahanni park by 1969, although that’s hard to verify. Some features in the park, like Deadman Valley, Headless Creek and Funeral Range bear testament to these legends, and hardly inspire confidence in visitors to this stunning area.
The fate of the original peoples of Nahanni, the Naha (a mountain-dwelling tribe), who lived in the region 10,000 years ago and quickly disappeared, is another mystery that endures in Nahanni National Park.
Nahanni Park Tours
You really need to have your heart set on reaching Nahanni National Park. There are no roads here and you can only come by boat or float plane.
Parks Canada says about half the visitors to Nahanni National Park get there by float plane, which can be chartered from Yellowknife and Fort Simpson. A day’s flight in and around the area will set you back around $1,900 per adult – not a bad value when you look at the area.
You can also visit Nahanni National Park by boat with one of the commercial whitewater businesses in the area. Nahanni River Adventures will take you to highlights including Glacier Lake and the stunning Virginia Falls. This is a big area, and you’ll be traveling accordingly, at anywhere from one to three weeks in this mysterious corner of Canada few people will see.