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To get the lay of the land in the Northwest Territories, take to the air. Flightseeing adventures lift off daily from Yellowknife. You'll soar over glittering trout-filled bays, cliff-flanked channels, and red-rock islands. Below you'll see sailboats leaning against the breeze, fishing lodges busy with anglers, historic outposts from the North's pioneering past, and possibly moose, bears or bison. It’s a genuine paradise: The finest landscape you'll ever see, from the perfect vantage point, a thousand feet high and floating.

In fall, the North erupts into colour. Along the roadsides, the fireweed flares purple before burning out. In the bush, radiant-red berries practically throb, ripe to the point of bursting. The tamaracks and aspens glow crimson and gold, their colours mirrored in every lake and pond. The tundra becomes a crazy-quilt, vivid in the frosty air, so bright it seems hand-painted. Autumn is Yellowknife's prettiest season, so heart-wrenchingly beautiful that it's hard to look away. Our local eco-tour operators will show you the prettiest spots.

Fall is when photographers flock here. Join an autumn photo workshop led by a professional nature photographer and you’ll hone your picture-taking skills in the prettiest place on Earth. Start with a couple days in Yellowknife, capturing the town’s rich gold-rush history, offbeat architecture and dramatic shield-country landscape. Then fly out to a lodge on the Barrenlands to shoot microscopic tundra flowers, vast big-sky landscapes, and regal herds of caribou.   

Up here, autumn is harvest time, when the ancient hunting-and-gathering cultures of the Northland are on vivid display. Join a guided cultural tour and you'll visit an Indigenous camp to learn about deep-rooted lifeways – about caribou hunting, trout fishing and cranberry-picking, about traditional travel by dogsled and mooseskin boat, and about the language of the Dene, still spoken in Yellowknife by hundreds of residents.

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.    

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.

At first glance, Yellowknife’s rough-and-tumble landscape seems better designed for floatplanes and snowmobiles than for leisurely two-wheeled cruising. But look closer and you’ll find we’re a pedal-pusher’s dream. Our flowing outcrops provide a Moab-like playground for technical rock-riders. Our sands and swamps invite “fat-bikers” to conquer the terrain. And the Ingraham Trail, linking a chain of shimmering lakes out Yellowknife’s back door, is a bike-packer’s paradise.   

Up here, you’ll catch plenty of fish – just be careful the fish don’t catch you. Our legendary lakes produce the largest sport fish on Earth. In the profound, mysterious depths of Great Slave are trout that crush the scales at 25 kilos or more. Meanwhile, slithering through the weeds of warm shallow bays and lazy rivers, hard-fighting pike regularly grow to 18 kilos. Whether you fish at a luxurious local lodge, head out on a day-trip with an expert guide, or cast your line from a dock in Old Town, Yellowknife fishing will get you hooked.

Believe it or not, Yellowknifers are golf-crazy. The Yellowknife Golf Club offers clubs, carts, a cool clubhouse, and a scenic 18-hole course that’s, well, in the rough. Our Subarctic wilderness isn’t the best for growing lush fairways, so we make do, teeing off from artificial turf and avoiding hazards like jackpines and gold-flecked bedrock. If you want to hit the links beneath the midnight sun, and you don’t mind ravens trying to steal your ball, this is the wildest place you’ll ever shout “fore.”

Every Tuesday evening throughout the summer, the park in front of city hall fills with hundreds of visitors keen to experience the Yellowknife Farmers Market. Equal parts social gathering, shopping extravaganza and Subarctic feast, the market features wild produce, fresh fish, Northern jams, artisanal crafts, and food carts operated by local restaurateurs. Enjoy springs rolls, sushi, bannock, or butter chicken as you relax on the shores of Frame Lake.

The Aurora only happens in winter, right? Anyone who says this hasn't looked up. Our brilliant, billowing Northern Lights start to blaze in mid-to-late August – as soon as the nights grow dark enough for the colours to pop. You might have to stay up a little later than in January, but it’s worth it: Late-summer nights are warm, meaning you can remain outside ’til dawn, gawking up at the celestial dance. Contact our Aurora-watching operators and lodges for more info on our summer Northern Lights.

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.

Yellowknife’s environment is as untouched as when the world was new. Local naturalists are eager to show you our wonders. Let an expert guide point out boreal flora and fauna on the path to dramatic Cameron Falls. Take a tour to the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary, home to some of the last wild bison on Earth. Go birding up the Yellowknife River or along the shoes of Great Slave. Discover Yellowknife’s Shield Country geology during a guided hike on the Prelude Nature Trail. Or visit a Barrenlands lodge where herds of caribou roam.