Hay River

Hay River: A Hidden Gem in the Northwest-Territories

Hay River is a small community located in the Northwest-Territories of Canada. It is situated on the south shore of Great Slave Lake, the deepest lake in North America. Hay River is known for its natural beauty, outdoor activities, and cultural events. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to the attractions, history, and culture of Hay River.


Hay River has a variety of attractions that cater to different interests. Here are some of the must-see attractions in the community:

  • Hay River Heritage Centre: This museum showcases the history and culture of Hay River and the surrounding area. It has exhibits on the fur trade, the Dene people, and the town's development. The museum also has a gift shop that sells local crafts and souvenirs.

  • Fisherman's Wharf: This is a popular spot for fishing and boating. It has a marina, boat launch, and fish cleaning station. Visitors can rent boats and fishing gear from local outfitters. The wharf also has a restaurant that serves fresh fish and seafood.

  • Sambaa Deh Falls: This waterfall is located about 60 km east of Hay River. It is a scenic spot for hiking, picnicking, and photography. The falls are surrounded by lush forests and wildlife.

  • Hay River Golf Club: This 9-hole golf course is located on the outskirts of town. It has scenic views of Great Slave Lake and the surrounding hills. The course is open from May to September and welcomes golfers of all skill levels.

  • K'atl'odeeche First Nation: This indigenous community is located on the west side of Hay River. It has a cultural centre that showcases the history and traditions of the Dene people. Visitors can participate in guided tours, traditional crafts, and storytelling.

Natural Wonders

Hay River is surrounded by natural wonders that offer breathtaking views and outdoor activities. Here are some of the natural wonders in the community:

  • Great Slave Lake: This is the main attraction in Hay River. It is the second-largest lake in Canada and the deepest lake in North America. Visitors can go fishing, boating, swimming, and kayaking on the lake. The lake also has several islands that are accessible by boat.

  • Mackenzie River: This is the longest river in Canada and the second-longest river in North America. It flows through Hay River and offers scenic views of the surrounding forests and hills. Visitors can go canoeing, kayaking, and fishing on the river.

  • Wood Buffalo National Park: This park is located about 200 km south of Hay River. It is the largest national park in Canada and home to the endangered wood bison. The park also has hiking trails, camping sites, and scenic drives.

Festivals and Events

Hay River has a vibrant cultural scene that celebrates its history and diversity. Here are some of the festivals and events in the community:

  • Hay River Winter Carnival: This is a week-long festival that takes place in February. It features snow sculptures, ice fishing, dog sledding, and other winter activities. The festival also has live music, food vendors, and a parade.

  • K'amba Carnival: This is a cultural festival that celebrates the traditions of the Dene people. It takes place in August and features traditional dances, drumming, and storytelling. The festival also has a craft fair, food vendors, and a powwow.

  • Hay River Blueberry Festival: This is a summer festival that celebrates the local blueberry harvest. It takes place in August and features blueberry-themed food, music, and activities. The festival also has a blueberry pancake breakfast, a pie-eating contest, and a parade.


Hay River was established in the early 1900s as a trading post for the fur trade. It was named after the nearby Hay River, which flows into Great Slave Lake. The community grew as a transportation hub for the mining and forestry industries. It was incorporated as a town in 1963 and has since become a popular tourist destination.


Hay River is a hidden gem in the Northwest-Territories that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and cultural events. Visitors can explore the town's history and culture at the Heritage Centre and the K'atl'odeeche First Nation. They can also enjoy the scenic views and outdoor activities at Great Slave Lake, Sambaa Deh Falls, and the Mackenzie River. The town's festivals and events showcase its diversity and community spirit. Hay River is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves nature, culture, and adventure.


  • Northwest Territories Tourism. (2021). Hay River.
  • Hay River Heritage Centre. (2021).
  • Fisherman's Wharf. (2021).
  • Sambaa Deh Falls. (2021).
  • Hay River Golf Club. (2021).
  • K'atl'odeeche First Nation. (2021).
  • Great Slave Lake. (2021).
  • Mackenzie River. (2021).
  • Wood Buffalo National Park. (2021).
  • Hay River Winter Carnival. (2021).
  • K'amba Carnival. (2021).
  • Hay River Blueberry Festival. (2021).