See the Northern Lights

In a UK poll that asked 22 million people what destinations or activities top their Bucket List, 27% (the second highest percentage) said they want to see the northern lights. One of the best places in the world to do this is in Yellowknife. The city lies beneath a halo-like ring known as the aurora oval, where lights flare in the sky with an increased intensity. With few geographical obstructions, and a high percentage of clear winter nights, the northern lights are particularly active from mid-November to mid-April. Experience aurora watching in comfort thanks to tour operators like Aurora Village and Yellowknife Outdoor Adventures, who provide heated viewing decks, hot drinks, and comfortable chairs in cabins removed from local light sources. Watching green, red and blue lights dance across a clear northern sky is a natural spectacle that belongs on Canada’s Bucket List too.


Length of Trip : Typically 4-hour nightly excursions

Cost :
Visit Aurora Village and Yellowknife Outdoor Adventures for the latest package prices. Great Canadian Trails offer a 3-day Northern Lights Eco-Escape that starts from $1560 per person.

Best time to go : Mid-August to the end of September and from mid-November to mid-April

Wheelchair friendly : Yes

Family friendly : Yes

Where to eat :
In Yellowknife:
The Black Knight Pub
Boston Pizza

Official Site :
Great Canadian Trails Northern Lights Eco Escape

Where to Stay :
Accommodation at an eco-lodge is included in your Great Canadian Trails package. In Yellowknife, we recommend: The Explorer Hotel
The Discovery Inn
Days Inn

Getting There :
There are regular flights between Yellowknife and Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, and Whitehorse.
Transportation to Aurora Village or Yellowknife Outdoor Adventure’s wilderness cabin is included in the price.

Note from Robin :
Yellowknife is under the Aurora belt and therefore you’re increasing your odds of actually seeing the mythical lights. But there’s no guarantee. The weather has to be ideal, and the conditions just right. The operators don’t give you your money back if the lights don’t fire, and many a guest (including this one) has left feeling disappointed. This is the nature of natural spectacles! Dress warm, as the best time to see the lights is late night/early morning when temperatures plummet. Ask your hotel if they’ll give you a wake up call if the lights are firing over the city during the night (a tip for the front desk won’t hurt).



Photo: NWT Tourism


Photo: NWT Tourism


Photo: Terry Parker


Further Reading

Interested in this Bucket List item? Here's some suggested reading:

Do It!

Northern Lights Eco Escape

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, is one of the best places in the world for viewing the northern lights. Not only is it directly under the auroral oval (so you are right under the lights as opposed to seeing them on the horizon), but it is mostly flat, providing unobstructed views of the dancing colours above. The eco-lodge is accessible only by bush flight (included in the package) and therefore far away from city lights. Combine all of this with very little precipitation year-round and nearly every night offers the ultimate opportunity to catch one of the world's most breathtaking natural performances. The lodge itself runs primarily on solar and wind power, has a greenhouse and garden producing fresh vegetables in season, initiated a fish management program to maintain a healthy stock of fish, follows a strict recycling and composting program, and engages with the local community through multiple projects and partnerships. Late summer and autumn stays include activity options such as paddling, hiking, swimming, yoga, boating, and local handicraft workshops. In the winter, try your hand at igloo/quinzhee building, snowshoeing, skating, skiing, or even fat biking! Or simply enjoy the open sky views from your room, lounge deck, or hot tub.

Running January through mid-April and late August through mid-October, this trip includes:

• Scenic bush plane flight (Yellowknife - Lodge - Yellowknife)
• All meals and snacks while at the lodge
• 2 nights twin-share cabin (lodge room available at extra cost)
• All night Aurora-Watch service
• Daily 2hr guided interpretive experience
• Use of all seasonal outdoor equipment (canoe, kayak, snowshoes, skiis, ice skates, fat bikes, etc)
• Use of Aurora lounge, fireplaces, northern library, hot tub, sauna, teepee, Aurora viewing decks
• Gratuities

Click here for details, costs and departures from Great Canadian Trails. Don't forget to mention The Great Canadian Bucket List!


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