Yellowknife is the capital of the Northwest Territories. It is on the North Arm of Great Slave Lake, on Yellowknife Bay. 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 dominates the workforce.
Yellowknife Airport (IATA: YZF) (ICAO: CYZF). 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).
Railways have not been built to Yellowknife. Furthermore, passenger rail service is not available in the Northwest Territories; 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.
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.
Ferry service is no longer necessary or provided for the Mackenzie River crossing. On November 30, 2012 the Deh Cho Bridge, a 9-span 1045m suspension bridge was opened for regular use. There is no toll for non-commercial vehicles. As of the same date, ferry service has permanently ceased. Yellowknife is now accessible by car year-round.
Yellowknife is served six days a week by Frontier Coachlines, which has a route to Hay River. However, as of October 2011, Greyhound no longer operates from Alberta to Hay River. There is bus service within the City of Yellowknife provided by the city at a nominal fee.
Yellowknife is on the Great Slave Lake; boating to and in Yellowknife is private in nature (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 with ice.
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.
Take a tour from one of the many tour companies around Yellowknife, such as Yellowknife Outdoor Adventures or Beck's Kennels. They offer many programs. These include dog sledding, aurora viewing, shoreline breakfast/lunch, wildlife viewing, fishing trips, etc.
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 snowmobile, sled dog expedition, photography workshops and tractor rides to various lodges.
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.
The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre houses the territorial museum and archives.
The many art galleries in town feature the works of local and northern artists.
Great Slave Lake,
There are many jobs available in Yellowknife, and wages are significantly higher than in the South.
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 Frolic's food begs more attention than that of Twist. Make your pick depending on whether you're hungrier or thirstier!"
The Elks Club hosts scotch night every Tuesday, where a shot will set you back a most-reasonable $3-fiddy.
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, mitts not gloves. If stranded do not leave your vehicle unless forced to.
Bison are prevalent between the Mackenzie River at Fort Providence to Rae\Edzo. They like to amble on the highway. Take care during night driving along this section.