Located on the Cumberland Peninsula of BAFFIN ISLAND
, Nunavut, Auyuittuq National Park (established 2001, 19 089 km2
) was Canada's first NATIONAL PARK
located north of the Arctic Circle. It was first set up as a national park reserve in 1976 and established as a national park through the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
Auyuittuq ("the land that never melts") is a harsh land of barren TUNDRA
, jagged mountain peaks, deep FJORDS
and ice. The Penny Ice Cap covers over 25% of the park's area. Vegetation is sparse, although in the brief arctic summer flowers such as white mountain avens, yellow arctic poppy and purple saxifrage colour the sand. Land-based wildlife is not abundant; herbivores, including arctic hare, lemming and a few barren-ground caribou, are preyed upon by wolves, arctic fox and weasel. The coastal waters on the north side of the park reserve, however, are teeming with life. The coast is home for millions of SEABIRDS
. Glaucous gulls, fulmars and black guillemots nest on sheer cliffs. Polar bears, seals, walrus, beluga and narwhals patrol the icy coastal waters.
people lived here over 2500 years ago. Norse explorers visited but did not linger. In the 12th century ancestors of the present Inuit arrived. These THULE
people hunted whales and caribou. English explorers arrived in 1585, but contact with European culture was not established until the mid-1800s, when whalers set up shore stations on the coast of Baffin Island.
From April to July, the glacier-carved peaks and the Akshayuk Pass hiking route challenge wilderness enthusiasts. Access to the park reserve is by private outfitter's boat, snowmobile or by hiking or skiing from the communities of PANGNIRTUNG
Auyuittuq National Park
Auyuittuq is the world's most northerly national park (Corel Professional Photos).
Penny Ice Cap
Remnant of the Wisconsin Ice Age (photo by Barbara Brundege and Eugene Fisher).
MAXWELL W. FINKELSTEIN
Links to Other Sites
Auyuittuq National Park of Canada
This illustrated Parks Canada website describes the ecology, geography, and history of Auyuittuq National Park of Canada