Nestled on the northern shores of Great Slave Lake and surrounded by scenic meadows and waterways, the city of Yellowknife sits on the edge of one of the world’s last great wilderness landscapes. Only a few hours’ drive from the Arctic Circle, visitors to this “Land of the Midnight Sun” can enjoy fishing, boating and hiking in the nearly 24 hour long days from May to August. When night finally falls, the Northern Lights illuminate the skies with bands of green, blue and pink. Listen carefully and you can hear the sky snapping as these electromagnetic rays wind their way across the horizon.
Snow is present for most of the year, making Yellowknife an ideal destination for a quintessentially Canadian experience. Tour the surrounding wilderness on a dogsled expedition, mushing across the tundra until it’s time to rest the dogs and set up camp for the night; fit in some hunting and fishing and learn about traditional life in the north from your native guides. The open forests surrounding the city are ideal for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The low sun and near-perpetual morning light make for fantastic photo opportunities, so be sure to bring a camera. At the end of a day outdoors, head back downtown and visit some of the Great North’s colorful drinking establishments or head to Old Town for a meal at the Wild Cat Café, a unique and historic establishment set in a heritage log cabin that was once part of an early 19th century mining camp.
As Yellowknife is the seat of government and center of a very busy mining industry, the airport gets a lot of traffic and is serviced several times each day with direct flights from Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta. Weekly flights also arrive from Canada’s capital of Ottawa and from October to April there are flights from Vancouver. Take advantage of the months when the days are shortest, from November to January. Travel options increase and ticket prices drop as many of the locals travel south during this time.
For getting around town, Yellowknife has public bus service that operates Monday to Saturday. If you’re planning to leave the city for some outdoor sports, there are several local businesses that rent vehicles suitable for the rugged landscape. Free bike rentals are also available on a first come, first serve basis at the Northern Frontier Visitor Center and bikes can also be reserved and rented for a fee at the Old Town Glassworks.