Located north in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Yellowknife sits on the shore of Great Slave Lake and prides itself as the capital of the Northern Territories.
Steeped in gold mining history, Yellowknife was founded in the 1930’s and has now evolved into a vibrant city with a small-town feel. Memories of the past can be seen throughout the “Old Town” which still stands today.
Flickering tendrils of emerald, then jade and plum dance across the ink-black sky on average 240 nights per year in Canada’s arctic region in the Northwest Territories, the world’s Northern Lights mecca.
Nature’s greatest lightshow is most prominent in the gateway city of Yellowknife, visible here more than anywhere else on earth, hence the reason Yellowknife is dubbed the Aurora Capital of the World. Yellowknife is blessed with subarctic crystal-clear nights, ultra-low humidity and the perfect location beneath the Earth’s band of maximal aurora activity – the “Auroral oval”.
There are two Aurora seasons in Yellowknife, winter lighting up from late December through to March and Summer/Fall, lighting up from August through to October. Visitors are recommended to stay a minimum of four nights to witness this natural phenomenon.
Aurora viewing options in Yellowknife range from fly-in, fly-out wilderness lodges to unique Yellowknife-based viewing cabins, stations or Indigenous-owned heated teepee experiences.
Yellowknife’s prominent viewing location is indigenous owned Aurora Village, located approximately 20 minutes from downtown, avoiding the city lights for optimum Aurora viewing. The facility features multiple heated teepees for guests to gather, whilst waiting for the Aurora to glow in the night sky, or a VITeepee Experience including a three course meal in a private Teepee. Aurora Village also features a licensed restaurant, gift shop and 360 degree swivel heated chairs on a viewing platform, allowing guests to spin to face the Aurora’s direction.
Aurora Village provide required clothing rental for Aurora viewing on the cold nights delivered to guest’s hotels. A private coach operated by Aurora Village collects guests from their hotel in the evening to travel to facility, and return them in the early hours of the morning.
Downtown hotel options range from three to four-star properties that line the city streets of Yellowknife including The Explorer Hotel, Chateau Nova, Days Inn & Suites, and Capital Suites Apartments.
Travellers looking for an off-grid experience in the Northwest Territories, can take a 25 minute bush plane flight beyond Yellowknife to Blachford Lake Lodge & Wilderness Resort. Many miles from civilisation this eco lodge is completely sufficient, unpolluted by artificial light or noise, and the perfect setting for watching the Aurora Borealis.
Guests may choose to stay in the lodge or in one of the cabins spread on the grounds. The lodge also offers an onsite chef who will prepare daily gourmet meals for guests. Packages to Blachford Lake Lodge range from 3 to 5 night options and include the bush plane transfer from Yellowknife, meals and use of all lodge facilities. Guests visiting Blachford Lake Lodge are required to spend their arrival night in Yellowknife to link with the early bush plane flight to the lodge.
To book Yellowknife ski accommodation, click here.
Whilst Yellowknife isn’t a ski resort, it does offer some great local mountain and ski clubs just outside the city. The Northern Lights are a total bucketlist experience, which is why Yellowknife is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders looking to add something special to their ski holiday. If you are visiting a Canadian ski resort, Yellowknife is very easily added to your holiday itinerary. Most airports in British Columbia and Alberta have direct flights into the city, we highly recommend adding the flights into your international ticket at the time of booking.
As Yellowknife is a smaller city with only 20,000 residents, there are few transport options available. Public transport available includes bus services, taxis and by foot, to help you get around the 136.2 km² city. The amzing thing about hotels such as the Blachford Lake Lodge is that you don’t actually need to travel to see the Northern Lights, you can even opt in to have staff wake you if the lights are on display in the early hours of the morning so you can look out the window for this incredible experience.
There is one local airport in Yellowknife named Yellowknife Airport (YZF). Most Major airports in Canada have flights into Yellowknife, making it the perfect add on destination to your Canadian ski holiday. Yellowknife is a two hour direct flight from Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton. Air Canada, Air North and Westjet all service Yellowknife. The city itself has all the amenities of a thriving tourist township with restaurants, shops, local pubs all lining the walkable streets.
Thanks to Yellowknife’s epic location, it makes for one of the best spots to view the Aurora Borealis. This is what brings nature lovers back yearly to get a glimpse of this natural phenomenon. These incredible lights are best viewed over the colder months and cloudless skies.
Guests looking to fill their days in Yellowknife while waiting for the evening Aurora can enjoy dogsledding, ice fishing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, fat tire biking, ice cave tours, ice road tours, snowshoeing, or dogsledding in winter. Summer activities include hiking, kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, boat tours, golfing, fishing, birding, waterfalls viewing, and fat biking. Year-round guests can also enjoy scenic flight tours, city tours, indigenous adventures, gallery and heritage centre tours. If you are visiting during March we suggest purchasing a ticket to the Snowking Winter Festival. Located on Yellowknife Bay this winter wonderland awaits with a castle made of snow that holds events, art exhibitions and activities for the month.
Yellowknife offers an array of delicious restaurants and bars that will cater for any craving! We recommend hitting up The Woodyard Brewhouse and Eatery or NWT Brewing Co if you are looking for locally brewed beers and delicious Canadian cuisine, or we suggest making your way to Old Town where you will be spoilt for choice with delicious treats that will suit most palates.