Every spring, Canada's only reindeer herd living in the Northwest Territories used to cross the ice route along Mackenzie River between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. The reindeer migration usually occurred in late March or early April which coincided with the Muskrat Jamboree celebration in Inuvik. The animals were herded with snowmobiles from their wintering grounds near Jimmy Lake at 22 mi (35 km) from Inuvik toward their calving grounds on Richards Island at the Beaufort Sea. The final official “Reindeer Crossing” occurred in spring of 2017 before the closing of the Ice Road. Even though the reindeer still follow their seasonal patterns of moving out towards the coast, the herd is not generally accessible on your own. The best way to see the animals is via direct contact with one of the local travel operators.
The Herd appeared in the Northwest Territories in 1935. Around 2,500 reindeer, originally from Russia, were brought to Mackenzie Delta from Alaska. They were to help with a local shortage of caribou, which locals traditionally used as a source of food and fur.
How much do you know about these magnificent creatures? Have you ever heard that they are super fast, running over 40 mph (70 kph)? Their hide is designed to trap air, allowing them to bear -76 °F (-60 °C) and below! How about the fact that reindeer are the only mammals that can see ultraviolet light? This ability must be helpful for seeing things in the blinding white landscape of the Arctic.
Put this beautiful wildlife encounter on your bucket list, and bear in mind, that warm clothes are paramount since the temperatures can drop down to -22 °F (-30 °C) with accompanying strong winds.
When does the reindeer migration happen, and where does it take place?
The migration of the reindeer herd in Northwest Territories usually takes place between late March and early April and coincides with Inuvik's Muskrat Jamboree celebration. Snowmobiles herd the animals from their wintering grounds near Jimmy Lake, 22 miles (35 km) from Inuvik, to their calving grounds on Richards Island at the Beaufort Sea. Show more
How can I see the reindeer herd in Northwest Territories, and is it possible to do it alone?
To see the reindeer herd in Northwest Territories, you must contact one of the local travel operators. During the migration, the herd moves across the ice road along Mackenzie River between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk and moves towards their calving grounds on Richards Island at the Beaufort Sea. However, on your own, you cannot generally access the herd. Show more
What is the history of the reindeer herd in the Mackenzie Delta of the Northwest Territories?
The Mackenzie Delta of the Northwest Territories received the gift of 2,500 caribou (reindeer), originally from Russia, in 1935, to address the lack of caribou the locals could use for food and fur. Since then, the herd has adapted to the Arctic environment and thrived in the area. Show more
What are the exceptional characteristics of reindeer that enable them to survive in the Arctic environment?
Reindeer possess unique features that help them survive in the Arctic environment. They have hides that capture air, enabling them to survive sub-zero temperatures below -76 °F (-60 °C). Their massive hooves enable them to walk in the snow without falling, while they are likewise excellent swimmers. Furthermore, reindeer can see ultraviolet light, making them the only mammals capable of detecting food and avoiding predators in the Arctic's pure landscape. Show more