Freeze-up in the North is transformative. In a weird way, this is when the world opens up. Once lakes and ponds turn solid, the ice-road builders get busy, constructing cool thoroughfares to Arctic outposts that are otherwise inaccessible. Snowmobilers, too, can suddenly travel – working remote traplines, or ferrying visitors to luxurious lodges, or ripping through the drifts. Commercial ice-fishermen begin to ply their trade, netting whitefish and burbot under the ice. And skiers and snowshoers can finally stretch their legs – liberated, after the long confining summer, by the return of ice and snow.  

Located in the heart of Yellowknife, the NWT Diamond Centre is part museum, part gem store, and part performance centre. Here, interpretive displays explain the geology and industry of our local Northern diamond industry – the richest in the Western Hemisphere. You can also watch expert diamond carvers show off their skills, turning rough diamonds into polished gems. Best of all, if you're dazzled by what you see, you can buy a bit of "bling" for yourself.

“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. 

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.  

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.    

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.

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.

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.