For the best vista 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 early morning to watch the sun wink over Great Slave Lake, or come to see the dusky midnight. The view is out of this world: sailboats slinking across Back Bay, floatplanes lifting off for points unknown, colorful houseboats bobbing by Joliffe Island, and historic shacks and mansions rising all around.  

With four North American flyways converging here, Yellowknife soars with birds – especially during spring migration. After crossing Great Slave Lake, dozens of species rest around the city. Some eventually flap onward to the Arctic, but others stick around for the summer. Local birders have recorded over 200 species – from yellow-billed loons to red-necked grebes and more. Hotspots include placid Niven Lake, the ponds at the ski club, and the roadside marshes of the Ingraham Trail. Birding tours are available.

In Yellowknife, all that glitters isn't gold. It's diamonds, too. Yep, we're a city with a story that sparkles – founded by prospectors and enriched by more than 80 years mining. You can "dig" our past by visiting the many mining-themed exhibits at the Prince of Wales museum, by touring the NWT Mining Heritage Society's rustic outdoor displays near Giant Mine, or by doing a walking tour of the historic shacks, shops and sites of goldrush-era Old Town. Guided tours are available.

Just below Pilot’s Monument, in a historic Hudson’s Bay Company building, you’ll find the art studio and gallery of Old Town Glassworks. Here, you can witness glass art being crafted, purchase decorative glassware and other souvenirs made by local artists, and participate in glass-making workshops.

“Fat bikes” are the ideal toy for tackling the wild hinterlands of Yellowknife. These beefy bicycles feature oversized, low-pressure tires, allowing you to make tracks where other bikes fear to tread. Sign up for a custom guided ride starting at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre and leading you through haunting jackpine forests, over rocky outcrops, along sandy lakeshores and through wildlife-rich Subarctic muskeg. 

Rustic, scenic and fun, Yellowknife’s Old Town is Canada’s coolest neighbourhood. Here, amidst the shacks and mansions overlooking Great Slave Lake, the city’s golden past is on rich display. Pick up a walking-tour brochure or audio soundtrack and explore the area’s funky heritage structures, famous cabins and dramatic lookouts. Or sign up for a guided stroll, during which you’re interpreter will regale you with tales of Old Town’s wild, wooly, and sometimes sordid past.

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.

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.    

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.

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. 

May is when our lakes begin to break their shackles. What ensues is a symphony of both power and grace. See car-sized icebergs crash and tumble as they ride currents of roaring meltwater. Marvel at the flute-like chime of fracturing “candle ice.” Watch whole lakes turn from white to blue in a single warm night. Some call it “break up.” Others, “ice out.” Whatever your name for it, it’s a wonder to behold.