Buffalo Airways is an airline like no other. Made famous by the reality-TV show Ice Pilots NWT, Buffalo’s fleet includes vintage aircraft like DC-3s, DC-4s and C-46s – classic, piston-driven workhorses, all manufactured around World War Two, which ply the Arctic skies on supply runs and rescue missions. The airline’s founder, “Buffalo Joe” McBryan, may well be the most famous bush pilot in the world. See his fleet at the Buffalo Air Hangar near the Yellowknife airport. 

“Fat bikes” are built for snow – which means they’re perfect for Yellowknife. These beefy cycles feature oversized, low-pressure tires, allowing you to make tracks on snowy trails and ice-sheathed lakes. Fat bike tours come in many formats. Bundle up for a leisurely ride to view urban points of interest, take a spin on the famous Great Slave Lake ice road, or tackle scenic routes over our rugged, rocky outcrops and scenic boreal trails. 

On any sunny April day, giant butterflies seem to dance above Great Slave Lake – bright oranges, reds, yellows and blues, swooping and flapping over the glittering ice. Look closer: You’re seeing huge kites, towing skiers at breakneck speeds. With plenty of snow, wide-open lakes and dependable breezes, kite-skiing is huge here. Local operators can set you up with all the gear, and provide lessons. Before you know it, you, too, will be an Arctic butterfly.   

If you’re rarin’ to ramble, Yellowknife has walking-trails galore, and plenty of hiking guides to lead the way. Hike the four-kilometre path around Frame Lake, traversing jackpine-studded Precambrian outcrops and past the architectural marvel of the Legislative Assembly building. Learn about Yellowknife’s golden history while strolling the Prospector’s Trail at Fred Henne Territorial Park. Or tackle the track to Cameron Falls, where the virgin Cameron River squeezes through a rocky slot and gushes over a 15-metre-high escarpment.

“The lights are on!” That should be Yellowknife’s motto, a cry that echoes night after night, ringing through our hotels, tour buses and Aurora-viewing lodges. When you hear it, pull on your parka, grab your camera, and scramble out into the snow. Now crane your eyes skyward. Ghostly greens and pinks wrap the heavens – slowly twisting, then shimmying, then erupting into a frenzy. You might gasp, laugh, or feel tears on your cheeks. By the time you go back inside your life will be changed forever.

With seven months of snow, Yellowknife is heaven for cross-country skiers. Glide over groomed trails or make your own way over frozen lakes wrapped in silent, snowy serenity. The city boasts an impressive web of track-set trails for everyone from casual wanderers to seasoned Nordic athletes. Out of town, the Northern Lights wash over snowy paths and well-packed snowmobile trails. Pack some hot cocoa, strap on your skis, and go.

Wanna hear the call of the wild? Then hitch up a team of loyal huskies and go “mushing” through our winter wonderland. Dogsled tours will carry you through silent forests, over ice-locked lakes, and beneath the haunting Aurora. If you want, you can take the reins: Shout “gee” to turn left, “haw” to turn right, “whoa” to stop, and “mush” to go. Prefer the passenger seat? Curl up in a comfy canvas-enclosed cariole and watch the frosty world slide by.

By January, Great Slave Lake is locked tight as a drum. That’s when anglers get giddy. If you’re keen on winter fishing, guides will lead you to a cozy fishing shack at the outskirts of town, or welcome you aboard a Bombardier or Sno-Bear – tracked vehicles ideal for over-the-snow fishing excursions. All winter long our waters abound with world-class trout, pike and whitefish, some tipping the scales at 20 kilos or more. Pulling one up through the ice is a thrill like no other.

In winter, our northern waters freeze solid – meaning the world opens up for snowmobiling. “Sledheads” will find Yellowknife a perfect place to go for a rip. You can buzz across powdery lakes, follow frozen rivers, or zigzag down forested trails. There’s a good chance you’ll witness winter critters: foxes, wolves, lynx and more. Several operators offer snowmobile tours, and they’ll even teach novices how to drive one. Winter clothing is included: cold-proof boots, puffy parkas, cozy mitts and of course a helmet.

While in Yellowknife, don't miss the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. One of Canada's premier museums, it highlights Arctic history, art and science in a range of intriguing, interactive galleries. Also, be sure to tour the Legislative Assembly Building, showcasing the distinctive Indigenous and pioneer culture of the Northwest Territories. Wanna stay indoors? Browse our art galleries, buy Northern books, and dine on the catch of the day in one of the more than 30 restaurants in Yellowknife.

Yellowknife was founded on gold, but today, diamonds are the city’s best friend. We’re the hub of Canada’s booming diamond industry, with three rich mines digging millions of diamonds from the nearby Barrenlands. Visitors can buy Northwest Territories gems at local shops or watch rough stones transform into gleaming jewels at a downtown centre. Seal your relationship with a sparkling Yellowknife diamond, considered among the purest in the world.