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The Globe and Mail

Ivvavik National Park: naturally spectacular

Vivid pictures capture the wild beauty of a national park most Canadians never see. A photo essay by Kirsten Murphy

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Ivvavik (“the place of birth” in Inuvialuktun), in the Yukon, is a relative newcomer to the national parks system. It was created in 1984 as part of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. The Firth River cuts a 130 km swath through Ivvavik before flowing into the Beaufort Sea.

Kirsten Murphy

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The park wakes from its winter sleep in May. By mid-June, the Arctic tundra roars to life with purple crocuses, lemon yellow cinquefoil, pink Alaskan phlox and wild blue forget-me-nots. Moss Campion, seen here, is a small mountain-dwelling wildflower found throughout the high Arctic.

Kirsten Murphy

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Freed of its icy cloak, the Firth River swells to a thick turquoise torrent that pounds through deep, rocky canyons. Here, Parks Canada officer Mervin Joe monitors the Firth River for wildlife and rafters.

Kirsten Murphy

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Hillsides are dotted with thousands of Porcupine caribou and calves returning from the Beaufort Sea, where food is plentiful. The caribou migrate 2,500 km each year between the Yukon and Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - the longest land migration route of any land mammal.

Kirsten Murphy

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During the summer the Sheep Creek research station is frequented by young Dall's sheep lambs, who stay close to their protective mothers.

Kirsten Murphy

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Only 200 people usually visit Ivvavik National Park each summer, many on guided rafting trips that have chartered a plane from Inuvik, NWT, about 250 kms away. Here, painters Greg Hargarten, left, Ken Van Rees and Paul Trottier from Saskatoon draw inspiration from Inspiration Point.

Kirsten Murphy

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