Yellowknife

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Yellowknife is the capital city of the Northwest Territories, on the North Arm of Great Slave Lake, on Yellowknife Bay.

Understand[edit]

Yellowknife was originally founded as a gold-mining town. Today, most of the gold mines have closed, and the city has reinvented itself as Canada's "Diamond Capital." The city is the administrative centre for the Northwest Territories, and in spite of its mining heritage, the public service sector dominates the workforce.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Yellowknife Airport (IATA: YZF). Daily flights connects Yellowknife with Edmonton and Calgary in Alberta, Vancouver in British Columbia, and with communities throughout the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Nunavut.

Air travel, interestingly enough, is one of the oldest ways of getting to Yellowknife (the city was founded in the mid 1930s, and space for float planes can still be found at the Old Town docks).

By train[edit]

Railways have not been built to Yellowknife. In fact, passenger rail service is not available in the Northwest Territories at all; the nearest freight railroad reaches to the south side of the Great Slave Lake. One of the nearest passenger stations is in Edmonton, Alberta, hundreds of miles to the south. There are two bus transfers from Edmonton to Yellowknife according to the Greyhound website.

By car[edit]

Yellowknife is located at the end of NWT Highway 3 Yellowknife Highway. Take the Mackenzie Highway (Highway 1) north from Alberta to the Northwest Territories/Alberta border. Continue to follow the highway past the communities of Enterprise, Hay River, and Kakisa to the junction with Highway 3. Follow Highway 3 to the Mackenzie River crossing at Fort Providence. From Fort Providence, follow Highway 3 past Behchoko (formerly Rae-Edzo) to its terminus at Yellowknife.

A permanent bridge across the Mackenzie River opened in 2012, replacing a seasonal ferry crossing or ice bridge which formerly served as the sole overland route into the territorial capital.

By bus[edit]

Yellowknife is served six days a week by Frontier Coachlines, which connects with Greyhound at Hay River.

By boat[edit]

Yellowknife is on the Great Slave Lake; boating to and in Yellowknife is private (ferries are used as highway river crossings, however). There are docks in the Old Town area; one could presumably go across the lake to Hay River, Buffalo River, Dawson Landing, or Edzo in a private boat. (Closer to Yellowknife is Dettah.) The lake, unfortunately for boaters, drains to the Arctic Ocean via the Mackenzie River, and that ocean is notorious for being frozen over.

Get around[edit]

Orientation[edit]

Yellowknife is quite compact, and the main areas of interest can be easily reached on foot. "New Town" is the current downtown core. It is bordered by 47th street to the north, 53rd street to the south, 52nd avenue to the east, and Veteran's Memorial Way (49th Avenue) to the west. Franklin Avenue (50th Avenue) is the main thoroughfare. The corner of Franklin Avenue and 50th Street is considered to be the city's centre.

"Old town", where the original city of Yellowknife was founded, is located at the base of the hill on Franklin Avenue, on a peninsula that juts into Yellowknife Bay, and on Latham Island. This area is primarily residential, but remains home to some of Yellowknife's oldest businesses.

By bus[edit]

There is bus service within the City of Yellowknife provided by the city at a nominal fee.

See[edit]

View of Yellowknife
  • Aurora Borealis (northern lights) - This is the one thing that you must see. There are many tour companies that offer different ways of seeing the Aurora Borealis, such as by snowmobile, sled dog expedition, photography workshops and tractor rides to various lodges.
  • The many art galleries in town feature the works of local and northern artists.
  • Pilots Monuments.
  • Great Slave Lake
  • Old Town

Do[edit]

Yellowknife is an outdoor enthusiast's dream. There are several scenic walking and hiking trails within the city boundaries. The Ingraham Trail (Highway 4) connects Yellowknife to many lakes, rivers, and hiking routes that draw campers, hikers, paddlers, fishermen and women, and hunters.

The winter months are dominated by winter sports: hockey, curling, skating, cross-country skiing, broomball, volleyball, and indoor soccer.

A small but active amateur arts community brings theatre, dance, and choral works to the community. Apart from some excellent amateur performers,the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC), the main venue for the performing arts, endeavours to bring professional level entertainment such as the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (Spring 2007) and renowned flamenco guitarist Juan Martin, who has appeared annually in recent years.

The Snowking Festival, Caribou Carnival, and the dog sled races are annual winter events. In the summer, visitors can take in the Summer Solstice Festival, Raven Mad Daze (with its 24-hour golf tournament), and Folk on the Rocks, a popular music festival. Raven Mad Daze is a festival to celebrate the beginning of summer with bands on city blocks, vendors selling food and drinks, and silly string is available for those who are pumped up and into the spirit. It is in Downtown Yellowknife where all vehicle traffic is rerouted to other surface streets.

Or take a tour from one of the many tour companies around Yellowknife, such as Yellowknife Outdoor Adventures or Becks Kennels. They offer many programs. These include dog sledding, aurora viewing, shoreline breakfast/lunch, wildlife viewing, and fishing trips.

  •    Enodah Wilderness Travel - Trout Rock LodgeGreat Slave Lake +1 867-874-4334. Fly in wilderness lodge on Great Slave Lake. Fishing, bird watching, Aurora packages. Day trips or overnight.
  •    Beck's Kennels124 Curry Drive +1 867-873-5603. Dogsled tours. Kennel owned and operated by World Champion dog racer, Grant Beck. Winter activities: Aurora by dog sled, traditional dogsled tours and learn to drive your own dogteam experience. They also offer overnight dogsled adventures. November 1 - mid May. Summer and fall activities: Aurora tours and dogsled on wheels. August 1 - October 31.

Learn[edit]

Work[edit]

There are many jobs available in Yellowknife, and wages are significantly higher than in the south.

Buy[edit]

  • A Canadian Diamond.
  • A painting by a local artist.
  • An Inuit stone carving.
  • A hand-made birch bark basket.
  • Caribou-skin mittens.
  • A northern parka, trimmed with fur.
  • A single spring roll from Corner Mart after a night of ogling teenagers at the Raven.
  • A world-famous breakfast hotdog from Gas Town (only served until 11AM).

Eat[edit]

Wildcat Cafe
  • Gold Range Bistro, 50th Street. Local cafe with great ordinary food and lots of good people where the locals eat. (In)famous for their plate-sized eggroll.
  • Thornton's, 51th Street and 52nd Ave. Tapas and wine specialties. Incredibly good food at reasonable prices for fine dining.
  • Fuego's Restaurant, 50th Street. Northern cuisine with international fusion. Caribou, muskox, bison and whitefish are regular features on a dynamic menu that changes quarterly. Has the finest patio in the city: elevated with multilevels. It's terrific in the summer when it doesn't get dark. [1]
  • Wildcat Cafe3904 Wiley Road +1 867-873-8850. Caribou, fish, steaks in a Gold Rush atmosphere. Originally built in 1937, this rehabbed establishment is a popular eatery and perhaps Yellowknife's best tourist attraction and most expensive, second only to Bullock's.
  • Tiny Bullock's Bistro3534 Weaver Dr +1 867-873-3474. Relaxed, cramped, extra-casual bar and restaurant in circa 1930s cabin. The menu features fish, game, and salads. The fish is as fresh as this morning, and the seemingly hectic grill manages to produce fine results with it. Don't expect anything fancy in service or presentation, but you'll enjoy the lively and authentic atmosphere. Make sure your wallet is well-stocked before coming: a simple plate of fish-n-chips and a bottle of self-serve beer will run between $30 and $40.

Drink[edit]

Twist Resto-Lounge and Le Frolic are some of the best places to drink north of 60. The manager (Flint) at Twist has been featured by MSN Travel and ranked as the top bartender in Canada. Though be sure to bring a well-stocked wallet as even the soft drinks cost a small fortune. 11 dollar pints at Le Frolic are nothing to sneer at but are much cheaper at Twist, though the food is a tasteless abomination.

The Elks Club hosts scotch night every Tuesday, where a shot will set you back a most-reasonable $3-fiddy.

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

Driving, particularly away from the main highway, may involve long distances without seeing much traffic. Be sure to check the usual summer driving requirements: spare tire, water, etc. In winter, temperatures can drop to -50C and colder. Be prepared! Bring a candle lantern for heat, a thermos of hot water, foods such as chocolate or nuts and a heavy blanket, and mitts (not gloves). If stranded, do not leave your vehicle unless forced to.

Bison are prevalent between the Mackenzie River at Fort Providence and Rae\Edzo. They like to amble on the highway. Take care during night driving along this section.

Connect[edit]

Cope[edit]

Go next[edit]

This city travel guide to Yellowknife has the status usable. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page!


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