Visit Northwest Territories
The boundless wonders of the North awaits the adventurous traveler for what might easily be the trip of a lifetime. Located in northwestern Canada, the Northwest Territories straddles the Arctic Circle, and shares borders with the country’s two other territories as well as British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The summers may be short, but they are long on outdoors adventure, with spectacular birding, wildlife viewing, hiking, backpacking and camping, paddle sports and golfing under the midnight sun. From festivals to fishing, there’s a little something for everyone. Yellowknife is the capital, located on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake about four hundred kilometers south of the Arctic Circle. Its history includes gold mining and more recently diamond mining, and the tourist trade draws people from all over the world who are interested in living the northern experience, and it is generally known as the absolute best place to view the aurora borealis. Wintertime activities range from dogsledding, snowshoeing and cross country skiing to ice fishing, kite skiing, and driving on the region’s famous ice roads. The wilderness, the scenery, the pristine beauty of the far north awaits. Whether you prefer the urban experience of Yellowknife, or crave something a little more rugged, every traveler will find something to love, ensuring your visit will be a trip like no other.
Things to Do
Yellowknife has the most variety of things to do in the Northwest Territories, and is definitely the best spot for viewing the northern lights. Take a guided boat tour on Great Slave Lake, or explore the region’s mining heritage at the Beer Barge event in June. Visit the Northern Frontier Visitor’s Centre to discover the rich aboriginal history of the area, and arrange for guided tours, bicycle rentals in the summer, get maps or talk to one of the friendly knowledgeable staff for some great ideas of how to get the most out of your vacation. Drive the Dempster Highway, which winds through the remote and beautiful wilderness along the Arctic Circle, and stop at one of the several campgrounds along the route.
The long summer days invite plenty of outdoor adventure, and wildlife abounds at any time of year: bison, moose, muskox, caribou, beavers, muskrats and even grizzly bears roam free. Do some flightseeing, and get a birds-eye view of the land and seascapes from a chartered floatplane, or book a fly-in fishing or hunting adventure at one of the several lodges that cater to anglers. The wintertime holds its own allure, and the unique experience of dogsledding through the crisp northern air is something so rarely experienced it’s an absolute winter must-do.
The Northwest Territories has an extreme climactic variant, from subarctic in the south to a polar climate in the north. Daytime highs in the winter rarely climb above -20˚C, while summertime highs might reach the mid-twenties in the far south, but the norm is much closer to 18˚ - 20˚C, more or less. The summertime is short and sweet, and features over fifty consecutive days of twenty-four hour sunshine, during which it’s easy to find things to do at all hours of the day and night. Golfing under the midnight sun is legendary at the Canadian North Midnight Sun Golf Classic in Yellowknife. Enjoy festivals all summer long, with aboriginal events, fairs, music festivals like Fort Smith’s South Slave Friendship Festival in August, Inuvik’s Great Northern Arts Festival, or Yellowknife’s Folk on the Rocks festival in mid-July.
Yellowknife’s Aurora Village is an all aboriginal run lodge and facility dedicated to viewing the spectacular aurora borealis, or northern lights. Sit back, relax and marvel at the spectacle from the comfort of heated viewing areas, dine at the onsite restaurant, and take advantage of the shuttle that services most of the hotels in Yellowknife.