Population: 19,234

Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories, is located on the north shore of Great Slave Lake, approximately 940 miles/1,513 km from Edmonton, AB. It is accessible by the Deh Cho Route.

Visitor Information: 

Contact Northwest Territories Tourism, P.O. Box 610, Yellowknife, NT X1A 2N5. Phone 1-800-661-0788 or 867-873-5007; http://spectacularnwt.com.

Yellowknife is a modern city where you can experience rustic nature and traditional culture without missing out on urban amenities. Yellowknife became capital of the Northwest Territories in 1967, developing as a mining, transportation and government administrative center for the territories. The Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly building is located on Frame Lake (tours are available).

European settlers arrived in the 1930s with the discovery of gold in the area and radium at Great Bear Lake. Cominco poured its first gold brick in 1938. WWII intervened and gold mining was halted until Giant Yellowknife Mines began mining again on May 12, 1948. The road connecting the city with the provinces was completed in 1960.

The discovery of diamonds north of Yellowknife at Lac de Gras in 1992, set off a rush of claim stakers, and Yellowknife is now the service center for several diamond mines. An estimated 150 companies have staked claims from north of Yellowknife to the Arctic coast, east from the North Arm of Great Slave Lake to Hudson Bay. In winter, the Ingraham Trail (NWT Highway 4) is used as part of the 380-mile/612-km ice road to Lupin Gold Mine, which now extends to Lac de Gras, heart of the diamond rush, and Contwoyto Lake.

Lodging & Services

Yellowknife has major-chain hotels, inns, B&Bs, restaurants and a micro-brewery. There are major-chain retail stores, including Walmart. Gas stations and all other visitor services available. 2 EV plug-ins at SombaJK’e Park next to City Hall.

Northern books can be found downtown at The Yellowknife Book Cellar, which specializes in stories and topics of the great North.

Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, built to collect, preserve, document, exhibit, study and interpret the North’s natural and cultural history, is located on Frame Lake, accessible via 48th Street or by way of a pedestrian causeway behind City Hall. Do not miss the moose-skin boat or the video about the construction of this craft. The narrative and historic photos about missionaries making their way North are also excellent. Good overview of aviation history in NWT.

Walking tour

Explore Old Town—“The Rock”—the area surrounding Bush Pilot’s Monument, including Ragged Ass Road. Eat at the historic (1937) Wildcat Cafe, which operates from mid-June to mid-September; phone 867-873-4004 for hours. Walk around Latham Island to see historic structures and modern buildings with very innovative architectural solutions to the problem of building on solid rock.

There is an app available to guide visitors through Yellowknife’s Old Town. Visit the app store and search for “Yellowknife Old Town Soundwalk.”

Downtown, stop in at the Diamond Display at the Diamond Center on the corner of 49th Street and 51st Avenue.

Walk along the popular Frame Lake Trail (8 km/5 mile loop) with its views of Yellowknife’s skyline, including the Legislative Assembly buildings. “Will and Kate” visited and planted bushes near the “Garden of Hope” on their tour in summer 2011.

Summer events

Various special events mark June 21, the longest day of the year and also Indigenous Peoples Day, a territorial holiday. Canada Day (July 1) is a national holiday celebrated with a parade, music and games.

Take a Tour

Take a tour by boat or van, enjoy fish fry dinners on the lake, take a flightseeing tour by floatplane, or explore the waters along the Ingraham Trail by canoe or Great Slave Lake by cruise boat.

Ingraham Trail is a 43-mile/69-km road leading northeast of Yellowknife to picnicking, camping, fishing, canoeing and bird watching opportunities.