Qausuittuq National Park (pronounced Qow-soo-ee-tooq, from Inuktitut meaning "place where the sun does not rise") is a national park on northwest Bathurst Island in Nunavut.
The park covers 11,000 km², almost two thirds of Bathurst Island. It is larger than Kosovo.
The name was selected through a contest in the local area.
The park is accessible from the beginning of June until the end of September.
Contact the park office +1 867-975-4673, or toll-free +1-888-773-8888.
Qausuittuq National Park was established on September 1, 2015. It was opened to the public and received its first visitors in 2016.
Archaeological studies in the Bathurst Island area indicate occasional human use over the past 4500 years by prehistoric and historic Dorset and Thule Inuit. Human presence fluctuated with changes in climate, ice cover and the corresponding availability of wildlife for subsistence. Human use was primarily in the southern and eastern part of Bathurst Island, rather than within the park area.
The area was explored by British naval expeditions during the mid-19th century, primarily those associated with the search for the lost Franklin expedition. Several cairns remain on the north coast. Exploration of the area continued sporadically, including scientific and commercial studies beginning during the 1960s.
The community of Resolute, on Cornwallis Island to the southeast of the park, was established in 1953. Inuit from the community use the land and waters of the Bathurst Island area to hunt and fish.
This area was chosen to represent the Western High Arctic natural region, one of 39 such regions identified by Parks Canada. This region encompasses most of the high Arctic Archipelago (the Queen Elizabeth Islands and the Grinnell Peninsula on Devon Island, but not Ellesmere Island or Axel Heiberg Island). The park also protects important Peary caribou habitat. It is north of the existing Polar Bear Pass National Wildlife Area.
The park geology is composed primarily of sedimentary rocks such as limestone, sandstone and dolomite. The area was glaciated in the past as evidenced by landforms such as eskers, moraines and beach terraces. The area is generally rolling hills.
Flora and fauna
The severe climate limits soil and nutrient development, which in turn limits vegetation. This region has low vascular plant diversity and is dominated by herbaceous species. Plants include purple saxifrage, dwarf willow, sedges, grasses, lichens and mosses.
Terrestrial wildlife species adapted to this environment include Peary caribou, muskoxen, Arctic wolves, Arctic foxes and bird species such as snowy owls, snow geese, king eiders, jaegers, and various gulls and shorebirds. Marine species in the area include ringed seals, bearded seals, polar bears, walruses, bowhead whales, beluga whales and narwhals.
Given that the name means "place where the sun does not rise", expect cold weather.
Bathurst Island has a cold dry climate. The cool central Arctic climate pushes almost unimpeded into the low-lying islands of the northwest and north-central sector of the Queen Elizabeth Islands; reaching to Bathurst Island. Mean temperatures range from -35 °C in January to 5 °C in July. Annual precipitation is less than 130 mm.
The park is best accessed from the beginning of July until mid-August. Registration by all visitors to the park is required.
The park is one of the most challenging to get to: the nearest access point is the community of Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island, just to the east of Bathurst. Resolute receives flights from Iqaluit. From there, you will have to charter a plane to get into the park. Try contacting Kenn Borek Air.
Fees and permits
Parks Canada Passes
The Discovery Pass provides unlimited admission for a full year at over 80 Parks Canada places that typically charge a daily entrance fee It provides faster entry and is valid for 12 months from date of purchase. Prices for 2018 (taxes included):
- Family/group (up to 7 people in a vehicle): $136.40
- Children and youth (0-17): free
- Adult (18-64): $67.70
- Senior (65+): $57.90
The Cultural Access Pass: people who have received their Canadian citizenship in the past year can qualify for free entry to some sites.
Endangered Peary caribou and other wildlife.
Buy, eat and drink
There are no services in the park. You are on your own.
The Tudjaat Co-op, part of the Arctic Co-operatives, runs a grocery/retail store and a hotel in Resolute.
There are no lodges or established campsites in the park. When camping, ensure that you practisedl "no trace camping" religiously.