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Home Story What to Do in the North Slave Region

What to Do in the North Slave Region

Discover the beauty of the North Slave Region! It’s a place where history, Indigenous culture and the wonders of the North’s natural worlds meet and offer visitors countless opportunities for adventures of all kinds. If you’re spending time in the Region, here is everything you must see during your stay in the North Slave Region.

You’ll Find Adventure Abound In Yellowknife

The North Slave’s largest community, Yellowknife, is the territory’s administrative and business hub. It’s the springboard for a variety of activities throughout the Region, no matter what the season.

 

In the heart of Yellowknife, you can start your visit with a view into the past at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. Its vast collections feature everything from airplanes and gold-mining memorabilia to ancient archeological artifacts and a Dene moose hide boat.  

Next door, take a tour of the spectacular domed NWT Legislative Assembly building perched on the shores of Yellowknife’s Frame Lake. The guided tour offers a peek at the stately assembly chamber and its huge polar bear hide. You can also see the diamond-tipped territorial mace, artwork by Group of Seven master A.Y. Jackson, intricate and ornate carvings by Northern artists, plus exhibits capturing the dynamic political evolution of the NWT. The Great Hall is open to the public and is regularly used for concerts, events, and even weddings. 

Then, walk the scenic seven km (4.3 miles) loop around Frame Lake, stopping at the Somba K’e Park in the shadow of City Hall. This grassy park is Yellowknife’s hub of activity all year round, hosting events like the Yellowknife Farmers’ Market in the summer and an amazing display of holiday lights in winter.

Lookout Over The Water In Old Town

Another must-see place is Yellowknife’s most popular lookout, Bush Pilot’s Monument, which rises high above Old Town, providing a stupendous view over Great Slave Lake, Back Bay, and the northern reaches of the city. It’s also a great way to see the Canadian Pacific Float Plane Base and Houseboat Bay. The monument rests atop “The Rock”—a six-story hill where the town’s original water tower once stood—and is accessed via a winding wooden staircase.

After seeing Yellowknife from new heights, wander through Old Town below, checking out its Hudson Bay Co. warehouse, the iconic Wildcat Cafe, and an old log schoolhouse just steps away over on Latham Island.

Take Your Pick Of Nearby Parks

The great outdoors lies close by the City of Yellowknife: you can choose between Fred Henne Territorial Park, Prelude Lake Territorial Park, or Reid Lake Territorial Park, where you can enjoy fishing, swimming, canoeing, hiking, bird watching, and wildlife viewing. The parks offer a safe, welcoming, and comfortable camping or day-visit experience.

In summer you can plan fishing, boating, stand-up paddling, or hiking trips with companies ready to help you out. In the colder season, they’ll assist you in chasing the Northern Lights, taking an ice road trek, or trying your hand at ice fishing.

Don’t Miss A Trip to Dettah

Learn more about Dene history and the traditional ways of life in Dettah, a Yellowknives Dene settlement of about 220 people located only a short drive from Yellowknife. This thriving First Nations community has been a summer gathering site for Yellowknives Dene for generations.

Here, you’ll see many examples of the traditional Dene lifestyle, like whitefish drying on racks and moose hides being tanned in the sun. Visitors can learn about Dene history, culture, arts, and cuisine by getting out on the land with local experts. 

In winter, you can travel to Dettah from Yellowknife across an ice road, a true Northern experience. Many locals and travellers take the scenic trip across the frozen lake by car, but winter bikers, snowmobilers, dog sledders, and even the occasional cross-country skier also take the ice road – your options for winter travel are endless in the NWT.

Łutsel K’e, which means “Place of the cisco fish,” in the Dene language, is the only settlement on Great Slave Lake’s storied (and beautiful) East Arm — site of the Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve. This scenic community of about 300 Dënesųłiné, or Chipewyan Dene, is accessible only by air, boat or snowmobile. From the community, a variety of tours will take you out into the surrounding areas.

Łutsel K’e is the epicentre of northern Dënesųłiné culture and the headquarters of Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve, which covers more than 26,000 sq km (48,650 sq. miles.). The park has received global recognition as a leader in environmental conservation and protection, and it’s easy to see why when faced with the stunning beauty of the East Arm. The community also purchased the nearby Frontier Lake Lodge, offering visitors a unique accommodation option in the Spectacular landscape.

This is where the barrens and subarctic boreal forest converge on the shores of the Great Slave Lake, of one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes, in a stunning display of rugged, northern beauty. The park includes the headwaters of storied rivers like the Thelon and Coppermine, Arctic species such as open-ground grizzlies and muskoxen, and an ecosystem utterly unlike the relatively plush environs of Great Slave Lake.

See The Spectacular Outside Beautiful Behchokǫ̀

Near Behchokǫ̀, an hour’s drive northwest of Yellowknife, you will find the incredible North Arm Territorial Park where you can have a picnic or spend an evening watching the Aurora on one of the best beaches in the entire North. Stop and rest on the picturesque shores of Great Slave Lake to take photos or simply to relax with a picnic. 

As the largest Dene community in the Northwest Territories, Behchokǫ̀  regularly hosts events, meetings, wildly popular handgame tournaments, and other festivities that draw in travellers from across the NWT.

Be sure to notice the changing landscape that surrounds  Behchokǫ̀ — the scenery abruptly changes here from rolling, well-treed Mackenzie lowlands to the stark northern granite of the Canadian Shield. The area is a perfect example of the sheer variety of natural beauty in the North Slave Region.

Get Your Feet Wet in Whatì

Whatì lies on the eastern shore of the pristine Lac La Martre. The community is now connected to the rest of the NWT by the recently constructed Tłı̨chǫ all-season road, making it incredibly accessible to North Slave travellers. The third-largest lake in the NWT, Lac La Martre is full of monster pike and giant trout, which makes Whatì a renowned trophy fishing destination. This lake is also home to Lac La Marte Lodge, owned by the Tłı̨chǫ Dene to share incredible experiences in Tłı̨chǫ territory.

No trip to Whatı̀ is complete without a visit to the thunderous Whatı̀ Waterfall or Nàı̨lı̨ı̨, as it’s known in Tłı̨chǫ Yatıì, the Tłı̨chǫ language. The waterfalls feature two 20-metre (66 feet) high thundering spillways, with several kilometres of cascading rapids downstream with fine grayling fishing in the rapids below. 

It is believed that the appearance of a bright, colourful k’àlemı̨ı̨ – rainbow-  over the waterfall cascading twin spillways is a sign of good luck. Anglers who have caught record-setting fish on a trip to Whatı̀ might agree, or perhaps the best luck is just getting to experience one of the North Slave Region’s most incredible sights.

Bring Your Fishing Gear to Gamètı̀

Situated at the midway point between Great Slave and Great Bear Lakes is this charming community and traditional hunting area of the Tłįchǫ Dene. Immersed in traditional ways of life, here you’ll find fantastic grayling fishing and intricately beaded local crafts.

Access to Gamètı̀ is primarily available via daily flights from Yellowknife, or via winter road from Whatì. However, canoe trippers have been known to fly into Gamètı̀ and paddle their way back to Yellowknife and Great Slave Lake via the Marian Lakes/Camsell River Route.

Behold The Barrenlands Outside Wekweètì

Wekweètì is located on the cusp of the marvelous Barrenlands – the surreal sandy landscape that comprises much of the eastern North Slave Region. As the smallest and most remote of the Tłįchǫ Dene communities, many residents still maintain a livelihood by hunting and fishing – keeping traditional knowledge a part of life and preserving the beauty of the landscape.

A trip to Wekweètì isn’t without many modern amenities as well. There’s also a hotel and lodge for visitors, a store, a health centre and a school. The community is a quiet and comfortable place to return to after a day of hiking, fishing, or touring around the community and surrounding area.

Ready for the road to adventure? Plan your route along the best scenic road trips through the NWT – you’re sure to find a spectacular horizon calling to you.

The Northwest Territories is home to some of the most pristine national parks in Canada. The humbling beauty and wild landscapes of the North are on full display. Read our guide to the 6 Canadian national parks in the NWT  for a taste of what awaits you there.

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