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15 Reasons You'll Fall for Autumn in Canada's Northwest Territories

The Dempster Highway winding through the bright yellow fields of the arctic barrenlands during the Fall season in the Northwest Territories

15 reasons you'll fall for autumn in Canada's Northwest Territories

Up here, winter is otherworldly. Spring is euphoric. Summer is delirious. But fall-time may be the best season of all. So dig out your flannel and get ready for some fun. Here's what's awesome about autumn in the Northwest Territories:  

Sunset behind the monument at Samba K'e park in Yellowknife, NWT

The Return of Night

After months of endless daylight, the return of darkness comes as a relief – comforting us, cloaking us, putting us at ease.

Aurora borealis shines bright behind some trees and a lodge glowing with it's lights on at night.

... and the return of Auroras!

Oh, and maybe the best thing about the return of the darkness? The Auroras come back. Indeed, autumn might be the best time to see our celestial lightshow, before the winter's chill sets in. 

A picnic table with three with yellow leaves behind it at a campground in the South Slave Region of the Northwest Territories

Campgrounds all to yourself

In the hot season, parks are bustling with tourists. In autumn? Not so much. You'll have your pick of campsites, plus plenty of peace and quiet while you slurp your coffee beside the river on a crisp fall morning. Book your campground here.

Caribou standing still in the red foliage of the barrenlands in the NWT


In autumn, our most ubiquitous ungulates (try saying that three times fast!) begin to move en masse. Great herds of caribou flow south from the Arctic coast, sweeping through the Barrens toward the treeline. In places, such as along the Dempster Highway or at lodges on the tundra, you'll find yourself practically in the midst of this great migration

Elder woman making dry meat in Trout Lake, NWT

Harvest Time

Speaking of caribou, autumn is harvest time. Locals head out onto the land to stock their freezers for the coming winter. It's a great time to visit Indigenous camps and learn about traditional lifeways.

Three people standing and smiling atop a cliff beside a large waterfall in Nahanni National Park Reserve, NWT

Crisp autumn hikes

Autumn hiking is no sweat. Get it? No sweat, 'cause the weather's cooler? Seriously, it's the best time of year to trek in the Northwest Territories. If you're in Yellowknife, head down the Ingraham Trail and hike out to Cameron Falls.

A purple sunset with a view of mountains with their first dusting of snow on the side of Dempster Highway in the Northwest Territories

The first dusting of snow

In some parts of the North, they call it "termination dust" – the first snow of autumn, when the peaks become dusted with powder. Over the coming weeks, the snowline works its way downslope – until, too soon, everywhere is white. 

A woman holding a handful of blueberries while berry picking in the Northwest Territories


Om nom nom. Once the nights get cold, the sugar rises in the berries and they become, literally, ripe for the picking. Berry-harvesting is a competitive sport up here, with some folks actually chartering planes out onto the tundra and bringing back hundreds of pounds of juicy goodness. Some of the best picking can be done along the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway. Get yourself a mouthful today. 

hundreds of snow geese flying in the sky above a field on a nice day


You know it's fall-time up here when you hear the geese honking overhead, fleeing southbound. Scores of other species take to the skies as well, making this the best birding time of the year. 

a group of people sitting and reading books while relaxing in their rental cabin in the Northwest Territories

Cozy cabins

In fall, you don't have to feel guilty about being indoors. Snuggle up in a cozy log cabin and do some easy reading. That's what the autumn is for. 

Fresh steaming fish on a platter

Comfort food

You also don't need to feel guilty about fall-feasting. The cold is coming, so you'd better build up your energy reserves. Moose stew anyone? Or grab whatever's on the local menu.

a bushel of bright pink flowers

Brilliant foliage

In late August and September, the tundra turns so red that it looks like it's on fire. Imagine, a whole landscape of radiant crimson. It's the prettiest time of year, especially in the Barrenlands. Book a flightseeing tour to take in the vibrant colours.

a group of people and a photogrpher taking professional photos in the orange fields of the barrenlands in the Northwest Territories

Barrenlands photography

And because fall is the prettiest time of year, it's the time when photographers flock here. You'll find photo workshops taking place at lodges on the Barrenlands, where you'll learn how to turn all that beauty into a image that pops off the page. 

An angler proudly holding his fishing rod while his friend holds a net containing the big fish they just caught


Fall is for fishing. The water's still open, the Pike and Trout and Char are still biting. Pull on a wooly toque and go wet a line! 

Ahhh, no bugs in the Northwest Territories come fall-time.

And best of all, no bugs

Yeah, that's right. 

No mosquitoes. 

No blackflies. 

No no-see-ums. 

No horseflies. 


Life is good ....

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