Yesterday Claire de Jong, a Natural Habitat Adventures guest, who has been to Churchill six times over the last eight years was guided around the area by Churchill photographer and guide Alex De Vries – Magnifico. Alex provided Claire with a unique experience while seeing some special sights. The two went down to Polar Bear Alley and managed to see a polar bear at eye level. They then explored the abandoned rocket range and capped off the day with a close encounter with a friendly fox! Another special day on the tundra with Natural Habitat Adventures! Have a great adventure Claire!
The vast expanse of the Hudson Bay. Alex De Vries – Magnifico photo.
Claire in front of the historic Churchill Rocket Range compound. Alex De Vries – Magnifico photo.
If you take an adventure to Churchill in the near future there are some “must see” attractions you should take in before you leave the frontier town. Of course some are season specific while some are year round accessible.
1.- Polar Bears: Not many people are unaware that Churchill is the polar bear mecca for viewing the “king of the Arctic”. During October and November the town is filled with high numbers of travelers hoping to see these amazing creatures in the wild. Of course summer also holds the potential for sighting fewer numbers of polar bears but still the chance exists. If you come during the winter to perhaps view northern lights, you will not see any as they are hunting seals on the Hudson bay ice. So plan a trip during the optimal window and come see the polar bears of Churchill!
Polar bears sparring in the Churchill wildlife management Area. Natural Habitat Adventures photo.
2. Precambrian Shield: When in Churchill you will notice the rocky coastline and glacial polished rocks jutting out of the tundra in different areas of the surrounding area. You really will need to get out on the Precambrian shield and feel the energy that emanates from the heavy stone embedded in the Earth. The geological features are wondrous and magnificent and are some of the oldest rocks on the planet. You can easily become immersed in the natural history of the formations and see how the landscape adapts to their shape and movement.
A view across the Cape Merry barrens past the battery and to Fort prince of Wales. Natural Habitat Adventures photo.
3. Churchill Northern Studies Center and surrounding area: At the far reaches of the main road out of Churchill heading east lies the old Fort Churchill Rocket Range. These grounds are now occupied by the new and improved Churchill Northern Studies Center. The center is a bastion for Arctic researchers and travelers to live and learn from the incredible diversity of the ecosystems colliding in one place. A tour of the facility and exploring the lakes and patterned ground in the area via trails is a must for getting a feel for the true sub-Arctic biome.
Churchill Northern Studies Center. CNSC photo.
4. Northern Lights: Another fairly obvious “must see” in Churchill. Located under Van Allens belt in the magnetic field of our atmosphere, Churchill is an optimal location to take in these mystical and scintillating lights. Natural Habitat Adventures has a new option to view the aurora; an Aurora Pod. With other various viewing options available as well, this is an absolute must see in Churchill.
Natural Habitat’s Aurora Pod and an avid photographer. Alex de Vries – Magnifico photo.
5. -Cape Merry: This is probably the most beautiful and peaceful spot around Churchill. When guiding Churchill Arctic summer groups I would always bring the group there first as a relaxing orientation to the region. We would spend hours looking for flowers and studying the geology of the area. Fort Prince of Wales is just across the Churchill River (often teeming with beluga whales in summer) and the vast expanse of the Hudson Bay unveils itself as far as the eye can see.
Ammunition cache at Cape Merry for cannon protection of Fort prince of Wales. Karen Walker photo.
The view and expanse of the land from a helicopter gives one a completely different perspective. The boreal forest stands alone from the wide open tundra and the Hudson Bay goes on forever to the north. I never tire of seeing the landmarks as well as the land from the air. Enjoy these photographs of the Churchill region!
Natural Habitat Tundra lodge. Steve Selden photo.
Port of Churchill on the Churchill River. Photo Steve Selden
Fort Prince of Wales on the West side of the Churchill River. Steve Selden photo.
Two polar bears near the coast in November. Karen Walker photo.
Polar bears along the Hudson Bay coast. Natural Habitat Adventures photo.
A view through Churchill, to the port and north over the Hudson Bay. Natural Habitat Adventures photo.
A closer look at the Churchill Rocket Range today. Steve Selden photo.
The Churchill Northern Studies Center has been an icon of the Churchill region for long time. In 1976 the Center was founded as an non-profit independent research and education facility. Located 23 km east of the town of Churchill, the facility provides the perfect secluded setting for scientists and researchers working on many different northern projects. The center also offers a wide range of general public scientific classes as well as university credit courses.
Churchill Northern Studies Center with aurora borealis. Churchill Northern Studies Center photo.
The grand diversity of this region attracts a wide range of mammals, birds, plants and humans. Three major biomes diverge along the Hudson Bay coast and eastern perimeter of Wapusk National Park. The park acts as a natural buffer zone to protect the denning areas of female polar bears. The southeastern Hudson Bay lowlands lay claim to the largest peat – lands in North America. All this makes the location of the center a prime destination for researchers and students with diverse interests in Arctic research and education.
Earthwatch tree island meteorological station. Churchill Northern Studies Center photo.
Natural Habitat Adventures and other travel groups have been utilizing the center to expose travelers to the incredible facility for many years now. The center also has a northern lights viewing dome and observation station providing a panoramic view of the tundra all the way to the Hudson Bay.
Incredible biodiversity on the tundra in Churchill. Churchill Northern Studies Center photo.
Churchill Northern Studies Center Director Michael Goodyear on the lookout for polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba. Churchill Northern Studies Center photo.
Earthwatch research project and group at the Churchill Northern Study Center in Churchill, Manitoba. Churchill Northern Studies Center photo.
Rocket launch silo adjacent to the Churchill Northern Studies Center. Churchill Northern Studies Center photo.
Ever wonder what the perfect conditions are for seeing the magnificent northern lights ? When and where are the best places to see them? Why are various northern lights different colors? Well, you can get all the answers from an expert today right here! Click this Explore.org webcam link to ask “Starman” a question!
Get all your burning northern lights questions answered today live at 5pm eastern time on Explore.org Northern Lights Cam. Canadian aurora borealis lecturer Roger “Starman” Woloshyn will be answering comment questions live on air today through the webcam portal. Just click on the webcam link and submit a question in the comment section and Roger will answer them as they come in.
Roger is an active lecturer at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Churchill, Manitoba. The center, founded in 1976, is a non-profit education and research facility 15 miles east of town at the site of the dormant Churchill Rocket Range. Researchers and educators utilize the facility to explore a diverse range of issues on northern science. Woloshyn also produces and writes presentations for the Manitoba Planetarium in Winnipeg, a position he has held for the past 20 years.
So, get your questions ready and come chat with “Starman” today at Explore.org!