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.

“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.

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.

You’ve seen the show Ice Road Truckers – but our ice roads aren’t just for big-rigs. With Yellowknife’s winter comes a network of frozen highways to places previously out of reach. Head out on the road to Dettah, a broad gleaming boulevard that cuts across frigid Yellowknife Bay. Or, if you’re well-prepared, travel the Ingraham Trail to the Tibbett-to-Contwoyto winter road, where the real ice-road truckers roll. Tour operators will gladly take you for a spin (not literally!).  

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.

For the best view in Yellowknife, head for Bush Pilot’s Monument. Perched above Old Town, this scenic site is accessed via 80 or so stairs that lead up the backside of a towering outcrop called The Rock. Make the climb in late morning to watch the sun wink over the icy horizon, or come to see dusk settle in. The monument is also a fine place at night. That’s when the Aurora bursts to life, bathing the houseboats of Yellowknife Bay in an eerie glow.  

In a secret valley just across Back Bay from Yellowknife’s Old Town, a frozen wonder forms each winter. Mineral-rich waters seep down the steep, dark cliffs of Jackfish Draw, evolving into fangs of ice, glittering white pillars, and surreal caves. Explore these crystal grottos and take photos of the surrounding eerie landscape. Local guides will lead the way.