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Travel Notes: North America: Canada: Northwest Territories

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Northwest Territories tourist information with details about travel to and around Northwest Territories.

Where to stay and what to see is made easier with insider tips and hand-selected Northwest Territories links, by dedicated editors and visitors to - The Online Guide to Travel.

Background Information About Northwest Territories

Capital City - City Guides The capital of Northwest Territories is Yellowknife.

Northwest Territories Background Information

Located in northern Canada, Northwest Territories borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the south-west, Alberta to the south, and Saskatchewan to the south-east.

Territorial islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago include Banks Island, Borden Island, Prince Patrick Island, and parts of Victoria Island and Melville Island.

The highest point in the Northwest Territories is referred to as Mount Nirvana (2,773m), near the border with Yukon.

Northwest Territories Government:
This is the land where the world's best northern lights dance during the dark winter months and where the sun never sets during the summer.

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Where to Stay in Northwest Territories

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Accommodation in Northwest Territories

Hotels in Yellowknife:
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See The Sights - Favourite Tourist Attractions Northwest Territories Attractions

What to See in Northwest Territories

Natural features in the Northwest Territories include the Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes, as well as the immense Mackenzie River and the canyons of the Nahanni National Park Reserve; a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Great Bear Lake, in central Northwest Territories, is the largest lake that lies entirely within Canada. Compared to the other lakes, only Lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan are bigger than the Great Bear Lake.


Yellowknife is located on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake. For a panoramic view of the city, climb up the stairs to the top of 'The Rock' in the Old Town; where the Pilot's Monument pays tribute to the flying pioneers.

A log-cabin built in 1937, Yellowknife's Wildcat Cafe has been lovingly restored and operates as a restaurant serving traditional Northern fare of caribou and fish.

Aurora Village:
Located 20 minutes east of Yellowknife, the tepee village is located directly under the Aurora Oval, which is one of the best places to see the Aurora Borealis in the world. Open from November 20th to April 15th in winter, and August 15th to September 30th in summer; the prime viewing times for the Lights.

Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre:
Located at 4750 - 48th Street, in Yellowknife.

There are a number of historic sites and other attractions to visit in Northwest Territories.

Fort Simpson Heritage Park:
The Park, on a bluff with a magnificent view of the Papal Flats and the conjunction of the Liard and Mackenzie rivers, consists of two residential lots; in part of the large area claimed by the Hudson's Bay Company, in 1822.

The Fort Simpson Visitor Centre, the first building on the left as you enter the town, has a small museum displaying the history of the Fort Simpson area. The staff also arrange guided walking-tours of town.

Fort Smith Mission Historic Park:
Between 1876 and the early 1980's, the Roman Catholic Church operated its mission to the entire western arctic from here.

Historical Timeline of The Northwest Territories:
Learn about the Territory's history through 100 major historical events. Attached to each event are resources that bring history to life through photographs, documents, video clips, audio tracks and an array of objects from archives and museum collections.

Idaa Trail:
A traditional route of the Dogrib people that stretches from Great Slave Lake to Great Bear Lake.

Inuvialuit Places:
For at least the past 700 years, the homeland of the Inuvialuit has been in the northwestern most part of Canada in the Beaufort Sea - Mackenzie Delta area. This virtual journey follows a route that goes along the Mackenzie River to the Beaufort Sea, and then east along the coast before heading south to Husky Lakes (Imaryuk).

Kellett's Store House:
In 1853, the men of a British Navy enterprise, under the command of Captain Henry Kellett, constructed a storehouse on Dealy Island (off the south coast of Melville Island, in the Western Arctic Archipelago) to provide a cache of provisions for expeditions in dire circumstances.

Northwest Territories Parks:
Northwest Territories is known for its extensive system of parks; ranging in size from wayside rest stops at the edge of a highway, to vast wilderness preserves where the wildlife outnumbers the visitors.

Old Fort Franklin:
Excavations in 1987 has led to a fuller understanding of the role played by the native people of Great Bear Lake, during Sir John Franklin's Second Arctic Land Expedition (1825-27).

Old Fort Providence Historic Site:
Located near Wool Bay, outside the City of Yellowknife, are the remains of Old Fort Providence; a North West Company, and later a Hudson's Bay Company, trading post.

Old Fort Reliance Historic Site:
On the East Arm of Great Slave Lake is one of the best preserved sites of early exploration in the western Subarctic.

Pingo Canadian Landmark:
For centuries, the pingos (unique ice-cored hills in the Arctic landscape) have acted as navigational aides for Inuvialuit travelling by land and water and as a convenient height of land for spotting caribou on the tundra or whales offshore. Located 5km west of Tuktoyaktuk.

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Official Tourist Information Northwest Territories Tourism

Official Northwest Territories Tourist Information

The ten largest municipalities in the Northwest Territories are Yellowknife, Hay River, Inuvik, Fort Smith, Behchoko, Fort Simpson, Tuktoyaktuk, Fort McPherson, Norman Wells and Fort Providence.

To make planning your trip easier, the Northwest Territories is divided into eight distinct travel destinations, each with its own Aboriginal heritage and role in Canadian history:

Arctic Coast - where the Dempster Highway ends and the Mackenzie River meets the Arctic Ocean.

Big Lake Country - stretching from the north shore of Great Slave Lake, east to the Barrenlands and north-west to Great Bear Lake.

Diamond Capital - share the exuberant spirit of Yellowknife, 'Diamond Capital of North America'.

Great Slave Gateway - one of the biggest, deepest freshwater lakes on the planet, and the second largest lake within Canada.

Mackenzie Valley - the kilometre-wide Mackenzie River is the heart of this Northwest Territories destination, accessible only by air.

Nahanni Country - legends of lost gold, and of a magnificent, remote waterfall that’s twice as high as Niagara.

Waterfalls Route - accessible by road, the Waterfalls Route extends 400km along the Mackenzie Highway, with scenic viewpoints and excellent camping facilities.

Wood Buffalo Country - Wood Buffalo National Park is a northern world all its own, a driveable wilderness at one end of the Mackenzie Highway.

Spectacular Northwest Territories:
The NWT's treasures include several of Canada's greatest rivers, biggest lakes and most important National Parks. Aboriginal tradition thrives in communities built on a rich fur-trade, exploration and mining heritage. Small and widely scattered, they're linked by roads, rivers or bush airlines.

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Excursions and Tours Northwest Territories Tours

What to Do in Northwest Territories

Great Slave Tours:
An active member of the Great Slave Lake Advisory Committee, Shawn Buckley can provide you with scientific research support, winter and summer sport fishing, boat and bombardier tours, or a night-time viewing of the aurora borealis.

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Getting Around Northwest Territories Transportation

Getting To and Around Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories by Air

The GNWT Department of Transportation operates 27 airports in the NWT: Aklavik (YKD), Colville Lake (EB3), Deline (YWJ), Fort Good Hope (YGH), Fort Liard (YJF), Fort McPherson (ZFM), Fort Providence (YJP), Fort Resolution (YFR), Fort Simpson (YFS), Fort Smith (YSM), Gameti (YRA), Hay River (YHY), Inuvik (YEV), Jean Marie River (ET9), Lutsel K'e (YLK), Nahanni Butte (BD6), Norman Wells (YVQ), Paulatuk (YPC), Sachs Harbour (YSY), Trout Lake (EU9), Tuktoyaktuk (YUB), Tulita (ZFN), Ulukhaktok (YHI), Wekweeti (FJ2), Whati (EM3), Wrigley (YWY) and Yellowknife (YZF) - the busiest airport in northern Canada.

A number of airlines connect the Northwest Territories communities.

Air North: (4N)
Yukon's airline flies to Inuvik from Dawson City and Old Crow (Yukon), with seasonal scheduling to Fairbanks (Alaska). Through Whitehorse, Air North continues on down to Vancouver (British Columbia), or Calgary and Edmonton (Alberta).

Air Tindi: (8T)
Based in Yellowknife, the company offers scheduled and charter air service throughout the Yukon, North West Territories and Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic; with aircraft on floats, wheels and skis.

Aklak Air: (6L)
Based in Inuvik, Aklak serves the western Arctic with scheduled flights between Inuvik and Aklavik, Fort Good Hope, Norman Wells, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk, Ulukhaktok, and seasonally to Fort McPherson.

Arctic Sunwest Charters: (ASC)
Based in Yellowknife, the company operate aircraft on floats and skis from their Float Base located on the shores of Great Slave Lake.

Buffalo Airways: (J4)
Operates passenger flights between Yellowknife and Hay River.

Canadian North: (5T)
From Yellowknife, flights go to Hay River, Inuvik and Norman Wells; and down to Edmonton and Calgary (Alberta). Flight paths also stretch out west across Nunavut and down to Ottawa (Ontario) from Iqualuit.

First Air: (7F)
Flights from Yellowstone go to Hay River, Inuvik and through Fort Simpson to Whitehorse (Yukon). There's also a direct flight to Edmonton (Alberta) and numerous routes into Nunavut; connecting through Rankin Inlet to Thompson and Winnipeg (Manitoba) and Iqaluit to Ottawa (Ontario) and Montreal (Quebec).

Great Slave Helicopters:
Rotary wing charter company headquartered in Yellowknife; with further operational bases in Fort Liard, Fort Simpson, Inuvik and Norman Wells, as well as Calgary (Alberta), Churchill (Manitoba) and Dryden (Ontario).

North Cariboo Air: (NCB)
Charter airline headquartered in Fort St. John (British Columbia), with bases in Calgary and Edmonton (Alberta), and Fort Liard.

North-Wright Airways: (HW)
Based in Norman Wells, with satellite bases in Deline and Fort Good Hope. Scheduled flights serve the communities of Colville Lake, Deline, Fort Good Hope, Inuvik, Norman Wells, Tulita and Yellowknife.

Northwestern Air Lease: (J3)
Headquartered in Fort Smith, once the capital of the Northwest Territories, the airline operates a scheduled service to Yellowknife and Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton), with connections to Fort McMurray, Peace River and Red Deer.

Ursus Aviation:
Charter company specialising in flying the Sahtu and Yellowknife area.

Northwest Territories by Road


You can drive to the Northwest Territories from the Yukon, via the Dempster Highway (8); or from Alberta, via the Mackenzie Highway (1).

The Northwest Territories Highways network from Yellowknife and westward around the Great Slave Lake are paved, while the Mackenzie and Liard Highways are gravel.

Further north, the Mackenzie Valley Winter Road system runs from Wrigley to Colville Lake. The Ice Roads are a unique road system built across tundra, lakes and rivers; providing links to remote, off-highway communities for a few ice-cold weeks each winter.

In 2008, the History Channel screened an insightful series about the Ice Road Truckers.

Taking The Bus:

Greyhound Canada comes into Hay River, from Peace River (Alberta); with Frontier Coachlines operating the service to Yellowknife. Edmonton to Yellowknife is about 1,500km and takes some 22 hours by bus.

Cardinal Coach Lines (107 Kam Lake Rd, Yellowknife) also operate coach services.

Northwest Territories Ferry Crossings

There are some ferry crossings in the Northwest Territories; when the ice crossings have melted.

Mackenzie River Crossing at Km 25 on the Yellowknife Hwy (3) near Fort Providence (from mid May to early January).

Liard River Crossing at Km 457 on the Mackenzie Hwy (1) near Fort Simpson (from mid May to the start of November).

N'Dulee/Camsell Bend Crossing at Km 548 on the Mackenzie Hwy (1) on the way to Wrigley (from the end of May to the end October).

Peel River Crossing at Km 74 on the Dempster Hwy (8) at Fort McPherson (from June to October).

Mackenzie River Crossing at Km 143 on the Dempster Hwy (8) near Tsiigehtchic (from June to October).

There's a period of about a month either side when the ice is too thin to carry heavy traffic but too thick for the ferries to run; so make sure you plan to travel when the ferries are running, or the rivers are frozen solid.

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Travel Notes Weather Centre Northwest Territories Weather


View a graphical weather forecast for the week ahead in Northwest Territories.

7-Day Weather Forecasts For Northwest Territories

Coral Harbour, Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Hay River, Inuvik, Yellowknife,

Northwest Territories Weather Videos

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Weather in Neighbouring Provinces

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Yukon Territory.

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