Sit yourself down on the ice road in Yellowknife Bay under a starry winter sky and ponder the way that 2,000 kilometers of icy highways are furrowed each winter to interface Canada’s secluded networks for a valuable couple of months. It’s only one of the quintessentially northern encounters that I’ve cherished amid treks to the spunky capital of the Northwest Territories.
Hunting the aurora
They call them “aurora voyagers.” They’re individuals who originated from around the globe — specifically Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and China — to see Aurora Borealis (a.k.a. the aurora borealis). You can pursue the perfect green streaks in the sky from generally September to April from the solace of a fly-in cabin, by snowmobile, by walking, via vehicle or at a transitory town complete with warming stations and dinners. North Star Adventures took me on versatile experience in a van. We drove the byways for a considerable length of time, gazing excitedly at the sky and tumbling out onto a solidified lake when the lights showed themselves. Yellowknife professes to be the best spot on the planet to see the aurora.
Hiking to ice caves
Rosie Strong, a heritage interpreter, took me on a winter climb that went from a mining legacy site to a remote burial ground to a mystical ice collapse the backwoods. She offers bundled bunch visits — like Shopping in the Boreal Forest and Canadian Shield Sampler — just as custom visits. The best part is that the Strong Interpretation tours end with homemade, northern-themed snacks and forest-inspired tea.
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Sure any doubt you can fly into Old Town Glassworks and simply purchase something in case you’re in a surge. In any case, you’re in an ideal situation booking time for a two-hour workshop to make your own china from saved and reused bottles at this present worker’s co-operative. First, you pick a northern stencil by a local artist. Then you cut, polish, stencil and sand-blast your creation, with help, of course. Workshops are offered daily.
Giggling at street signs
While you’re in Old Town making your glass souvenir, don’t miss the city’s famous Ragged Ass Road. Legend has it plastered miners who were “ragged ass poor” created the catchy nickname and the city eventually agreed to use it. Presently it’s perhaps Canada’s most popular road and the homes on it are definitely not worn out ass, however, the sign is as yet fun. Yellowknife does its best to thwart sign thieves so stay out of trouble and find one of the shops that sell replicas.
Sometimes you can get lucky and randomly nab a table at Bullocks Bistro, but it’s much safer to make a reservation and avoid the inevitable lineup at this eclectic joint. Yellowknife’s favorite fish house offers deep-fried, pan-fried or grilled options. My go-to meal is deep-fried Great Slave cod, also known as burbot, but local whitefish and Arctic char are also great choices. Be sure to sign — and read — all of the walls, especially in the bathroom.
Counting polar bears
Bill Braden, who took gave me an insider’s view on his city with My Backyard Tours, planted the plan to check Yellowknife’s polar bears. I’ll share a couple to enable you to begin. There’s taxidermied one ready to nail a seal at the air terminal gear merry go round, and there’s a polar bear shroud carpet at the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. Presently it’s dependent upon you to search out the others, however, rest guaranteed that live polar bears don’t really stray this far south as they like to live close to the sea so they can chase seals on the sea ice.
A castle made of snow and ice is ground zero for SnowKing’s Winter Festival each March on Great Slave Lake in Yellowknife. It’s the brainchild of “SnowKing” Anthony Foliot (“Yellowknife’s prevailing ruler”) who builds the royal residence with a dependable team with an all-ages slide, ice bar, presentation territory and stage for a month of merriments. In the interim, the Long John Jamboree likewise occurs more than one extended weekend in March. The year I went there were ice-carving contests, bush plane and helicopter rides, mini ice-fishing trips and a massive bonfire on the ice known as “Burn on the Bay.”
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