The Mackenzie River is the largest river system in Canada, and is exceeded in size only by the Mississippi in North America. The river flows through large, isolated regions of forest and tundra in the Yukon and Northwest Territories of Canada. The main stem of the Mackenzie River runs approximately 1,738 kilometers and drains into the Arctic Ocean. If all of it’s tributaries are included in the overall length of the Mackenzie are taken into account, it is one of the longest rivers in the world.
The river has many names; the Dene refer to it as “Deh Cho” which means “Big River,” the Inuviluktun name “Kuupak” means “Great River” while the Gwich’in call it “Nagwichoonjik” which means “river flowing through a big country.” Each name speaks to the greatness of the river and the expanse of country that the waters pass through. The English name “Mackenzie” derives from the first European to travel the length of the river, Alexander Mackenzie.