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The Natural Setting and Features

What makes Dechenla wilderness resort such a unique destination is its situation on a high elevation tundra plateau nestled between two distinct ranges of mountains. This produces breath-taking scenery, amazing diversity and is a sense of unfettered space and tranquility. The ever-changing light that dances off the many lakes and ponds enhances this beauty and serenity. Added to this are the changes that come about with the seasons – the snow patches give way to shades of green which give way to the “kodachrome” colours of fall.

Dechenla offers surprising diversity. As well as the unique landforms that come with the tundra, such as palsas and patterned ground, there are a variety of biotic communities. The tundra falls away into an extensive shrub zone that is interrupted by patches of spruce and accentuated by alpine slopes and snow-capped peaks. Here lives the world’s largest herd of mountain caribou, as well as moose, sub-arctic wolves, wolverine, grizzlies, and a host of smaller creatures – marmots, ground squirrels, pikas, and voles. Also, more than 130 species of birds have been recorded here, including such arctic specialties as Gyrfalcons, Ptarmigan (3 different species), Wandering Tattlers, Long-tailed Jaegers, Long-tailed ducks (formerly Oldsquaw ducks), and Smith’s Longspurs. And of course the alpine flowers, diverse and prolific from mid-June through July.

Caribou in particular captivate the sense of wilderness. The Dechenla tundra brings together 4 distinct caribou herds, whose ranges extend over a vast area through the Yukon and the NWT. This mixing of 4 large herds is unique – truly of world heritage significance.

Overlooking Dechenla wilderness resort, some 25km away, is Keele Peak, climbing to almost 3000 m, and the highest mountain in northern Canada, outside the St.Elias Mountains in Kluane National Park. This is truly a magnificent mountain, called Luten, or “Ice Mountain” by the Kaska people. It is visible from Dechenla - a landmark of rock spires and glaciers.

It is this special area, tucked into a wilderness of mountains, and crystal streams – an area that tugs at ones soul - that we strive to showcase.

The North Canol Heritage Trail

Dechenla wilderness resort sits beside an abandoned road-bed, now designated the Canol Heritage Trail. This is a reminder of the last world war when fears of a Japanese invasion of North America prompted the construction of an oil pipeline and the Canol road (short for Canada Oil). The significance of this massive undertaking, considered by some to be one of the largest mega projects in North America, prompted the governments of Canada, the NWT, and the Sahtu First Nation to declare the Canol Road corridor in the NWT as a Canol Heritage Park. At Dechenla wilderness resort the Canol is a reminder of the past, but also a trail into the wilderness, allowing convenient access to further explore the diversity and richness of the McKenzie Mountains, through our adventure nature tours. We have 3 land leases along the Canol Heritage Trail in addition to the lodge – at the Tsichu River (Mile 222), the Intga River (Mile 206), and along the Ekwi River near Caribou Pass (Mile 192). Each offers its own special appeal.