This park covering 37,775 sq km (14,585 sq mi), proclaimed in 1988, is located 800 km (497 mile) from the North Pole. It is Canada’s second-largest national park and the most northerly protected area in the world, occupying the northern third of Ellesmere Island, in the Canadian Territy of Nunavut. Much of the park is a polar desert, with winter temperatures as low as -45°C (-44°F).
To reach the park, one must charter an aircraft from Resolute Bay, NU, a four-hour flight by Twin Otter. During the brief Arctic summer on Quttinirpaaq, the sun remains high in the sky, providing continuous daylight and no darkness.
There are no trees and the scale of the land is both immense and intimate at the same time. Intricate patterns of rock, frost-cracked ground, willows, and wildflowers, extend outing from where one is standing into endless vistas in the clear, dry air.
Glaciers on a mountainside 15 km (9 mi) away seem to be details in a landscape within reach.
The area was first inhabited about 4,000 years ago by a small group of Palaeo-Eskimos. There was a second group who settled here, followed by the Dorset people. About 1,000 years ago, the ancestors of present-day Inuit, the Thules, came from Alaska.
For thousands of years, the ancestors of the Inuit traveled in this area. They knew that their survival depended on their obedience to the dictates of the land and its weather. If the wind blew and the temperature plummeted, they stopped and found shelter, continuing when the weather settled. Inuit travelers to this day let the weather, the seasons, and the rhythms of the land set their travel schedules.
Some of the largest ice caps in Canada spread across Quttinirpaaq, including the 900 m (2952 ft) thick Grant Land Ice Cap, a remnant of the last continental glaciation. In some areas mountain peaks — called nunatuks — protrude through the ice cap at elevations of over 2500 m (8202 ft).
Quttinirpaaq National Park contains a wide variety of sedimentary, volcanic, metamorphic, and intrusive rocks and structures, formed during a vast time span.
Glaciers cover about one-third of Quttinirpaaq National Park. They vary from large ice fields to small semi-permanent snowfields.
There are currently no online maps of the park.
See also: National Parks of Canada.