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Most Canadians have heard about or been to at least one National Park, but have you heard of this one? Quttinirpaaq (pronounced ‘koo-tin-ir-pa-ak’) National Park, on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, is the most northerly tip of Canada, located a mere 720 kilometers from the north pole, and Canada’s second-largest National Park.
There there are many different types of wildlife to be found in the park, including polar bears, muskoxen, lemmings, and narwhals. The area is a polar desert, which means there is very little vegetation. However, the ice caps in the park date back 75,000 years to the last Ice Age!
Indigenous people have lived on Ellesmere Island for the last 4,500 years, as evidenced by tent rings and food caches archaeologists have found. The area has also served as a staging point for northern and Arctic exploration, particularly those organized by the Defense Research Board from 1953 into the 1970s.
Today, visitors can hike, climb, and ski through the park under 24-hour daylight from May to August when the park is open to visitors. The ski season is from May to June, and the temperature can be as high as a balmy 6 degrees Celsius in June so don’t forget your bathing suit! But bring a GPS instead of a compass: due to its proximity to the magnetic north pole, compasses do not work accurately in this area!
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