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Coming to Yellowknife

The city of Yellowknife  is the capital of the Northwest Territories and is located on the north shore of Great Slave Lake;  approximately 400 km from the Arctic Circle. Not only is it the gateway to Canada’s Arctic, it is also one of the best locations to view the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis overhead.


Daily scheduled airline flights serve Yellowknife and connect to all major Canadian and many U.S. cities.  Upon arrival at the Yellowknife Airport, look for the free shuttle service van to The Explorer Hotel.

Yellowknife is served by many of Canada's major airlines from the south including Air Canada-Jazz, First Air, Westjet and Canadian North.

Yellowknife is also the gateway to the Western Arctic and has direct service to many Arctic communities.

For more information on flights to and from Yellowknife, please refer to the Yellowknife Airport for flight arrival and departure information.


If you're driving from Edmonton, the total distance is 1,524 km (945 miles) and most of the road is now paved. From Edmonton, link to the Mackenzie Highway which leads to the Northwest Territories border and then travel on to Yellowknife via Fort Providence.

For information about Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories, visit the Spectacular NWT tourism website at www.spectacularnwt.com or go to the Northern Frontier Regional Visitors Centre website at www.northernfrontier.com.  

Also, keep in mind that there are various car ferries on the highways around the Northwest Territories.  A useful phone number for motorists is the ferry information line at 800-661-0750 (NT only), which lets you know the status of the various car ferries along the Mackenzie Highway.  While a permanent bridge link over the Mackenzie River is currently under construction, at breakup and freeze-up time there is typically a 30-day period during which the ferries can not operate, and the ice is not yet thick enough for driving.


The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis are one of the most spectactular light shows in the world.

It has been said that the Aurora was named after the Roman goddess of dawn while Borealis comes from the Greek word for wind, Boreas. 

Scientifically, the Auroras are produced by the collision of charged particles from Earth's magnetosphere, mostly electrons but also protons and heavier particles, with atoms and molecules of Earth's upper atmosphere (at altitudes above 80 km (50 miles).

However, the flickering curtains of lights, apparently dancing across the dark sky are an amazing celestial phenomenon that has amazed people for centuries. Yellowknife is one of the best places in the world to watch the Northern Lights and The Explorer Hotel can be the base to start your adventure.

You'll meet people from around the world at the Explorer Hotel who are only here to see the Northern Lights.

For the latest Aurora forecast, click here.


Yellowknife is the capital of Canada's Northwest Territories and has a population of approximately 20,000 people. It is located on the north shore of Great Slave Lake, and is about 400 kilometres or 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

Yellowknife and its surrounding water bodies were named after the local Yellowknives Dene First Nation, who made tools from regional copper deposits. Of the eleven official languages of the Northwest Territories, six are spoken in significant numbers in Yellowknife including Dene, Suline, Dogrib, South and North Slavey, English, and French. This makes the current population very ethnically mixed. In the Dogrib language, the city is known as Somba K'e ("where the money is").

Yellowknife was first settled in 1935; after gold was found in the area, and it soon became the centre of economic activity in the Northwest Territories and then the capital in 1967.

As gold production began to decline, Yellowknife shifted from being a mining town to a centre of government services. However, with the recent discovery of diamonds north of the city, this tide has begun to reverse.

Yellowknife offers unrivalled opportunities for investment, tourism, business development and employment. The abundance of minerals, oil and gas in the NWT has had a dramatic economic impact on the region. Since the discovery of diamonds in 1991, there are now operating diamond mines in the Territory making Yellowknife the “Diamond Capital of Canada”.

Click here for more detailed information on Yellowknife.

View photos of  Yellowknife.

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