Just inland from the west coast of Hudson Bay, straddling the Meliadine River about 10 kilometres northwest of Rankin Inlet, lies Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga (Meliadine River) Territorial Park. Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Park is the home of several important archaeological sites with house ruins, tent rings, graves, and other remains of the Thule (ancient ancestors of the modern Inuit) culture. Some of the ruins date back as far as the Pre-Dorset period from 1000 BC to 500 BC.
The most impressive of the sites is Igalugaarjuup, located on a small esker off of the main road. The artifacts are surrounded by an impressive valley, glacial features, and provides important wildlife habitat. The river itself flows into the Hudson Bay about five kilometres north of the community of Rankin Inlet. Above the river lies the small, shallow Sandy Lake. The lake reaches temperatures comfortable for swimming and is accompanied by related facilities and makes a great spot to set up camp or just enjoy the scenery during a day trip.
More information about the Park...
The hike to Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga is a long, though not uncomfortable, trek of about 10 kilometres; and another four kilometres to the elder's facility. Fortunately, though, the road along the top of the esker is well-drained, allowing for easy walking. The breeze at this height keeps the hordes of mosquitoes at bay.
Crossing from the south to the north side of the Meliadine River is no easy feat, but there are locations where the river can be crossed with proper foot wear. Most visitors prefer to leave the north side of the river to the plants and wildlife, and to enjoy the view from the south.
Kivalliq Tours are the licensed guides to the park, and will set up half day or full day trips for groups of four to six people. Check with Kivalliq Tours, the Hotel, or the Regional Tourism Development Co-Ordinator who may know of other visitors also wishing to tour the park.
A taxi to the park and around the sites will cost a hefty $100 return.
C & H Rentals
ATVs can be rented from C & H Rentals in Rankin Inlet - but remember, driving off-road here is not permitted. Although the hamlet continues to extend and improve the road down to the river valley, road conditions to the park can vary.
If you're planning a trip to Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga Territorial Park, start by contacting Nunavut Tourism staff at the Unikkaarvik Visitors Centre in Iqaluit or at their Kivalliq Regional Offices in Rankin Inlet. The Kivalliq Regional Visitor Centre, and staff in Rankin Inlet are currently housed in the Airport and open throughout the year. Plans are underway to build a new Regional Visitor Centre for the Kivalliq Region in Rankin Inlet.