Situated on the Northern shore of Great Slave Lake, Yellowknife is the capital of the Northwest Territories and the largest city in the NWT. Founded in 1934, the city is located in the traditional territory of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation who founded the nearby community of Dettah in the early 1930s.
Regardless of what time of year you visit, there’s always something happening in Yellowknife. From a weekend music festival in the sand to a month of festivities inside a snow castle on the frozen bay, the capital of the Northwest Territories is a vibrant and cosmopolitan northern city.
Here you’ll find excellent restaurants, comfy accommodations and a whole host of colourful locals. One of the best things about Yellowknife, though, is its location. The bustling streets are filled with trendy shops and public art, but take a few steps out of town and you’re surrounded by untouched northern wilderness. In Yellowknife, you’re never more than a few minutes away from a new adventure.
The city gets its name from the copper tools historically made and traded by the local Dene. The most common Dene name for Yellowknife is “Somba K’e,” which translates to “Where the money is.” It’s a fitting title for a town with a gold-mining history. Yellowknife was officially founded in 1934, when the area today called Old Town was little more than a few cabins and a rough-and-tumble mining camp. It evolved into the seat of the territorial government—a legacy still on display at the Legislative Assembly—before another mining boom arrived in the ’90s with the discovery of nearby diamond deposits.
Today, tourism is one of the biggest draws to Yellowknife. Visitors come from all over the world to experience Yellowknife’s incredible attractions. Its famed Aurora are visible up to 240 nights of the year, and when there’s no Northern Lights, that means it’s time to stay out all night dancing under the midnight sun. Does it get cold? Oh, you bet. But that doesn’t stop Yellowknifers from having fun all winter long. Yellowknife is also the perfect launching point for northern adventures outside of the city. A wide array of trails, lodges, campgrounds, bush plane tours, and secret fishing spots are all easily accessible from this free-spirited community.
And it’s friendly too. Make your way to any Yellowknife establishment and you’ll find locals eager to advise you of how to get the most out of your visit. You’ll be so full of suggestions for great meals, gorgeous hikes, fabulous handmade arts and crafts and truly unique experiences, you’ll be wondering how you can extend your stay in this vibrant and culturally-diverse city.
The City of Yellowknife has additional up-to-date resources and information about local events, accommodations, and amenities at extraordinaryyk.com as well as municipal information at yellowknife.ca. Either of these pages can provide you with information about the city as you prepare for your trip to Yellowknife.