Outdoors and Recreation


The region’s long winters and short summers, combined with the proximity of the wilderness — in many cases just metres from front doors — make outdoor recreation, whether as a member of one of the city’s many community groups or sports leagues or as an individual, key to making the most of city life. Late spring and fall are transitional periods characterized by break-up — when lake ice is melting and precarious — and freeze-up — when lake ice is forming and equally dangerous, and snow is either melting or falling; as a result outdoor recreation is usually at a lull during these periods.


The essence of Yellowknife outdoors life is learning to love winter and all the recreational opportunities it brings. Even at the chilliest temperatures, you’ll find outdoor-loving Yellowknifers out on the land around the city, getting the most out of this natural playground. The city’s indoor facilities — the municipal pool, the area, the multiplex, etc. — also see heavy use from those looking to catch a break from sub-zero temperatures.


A small but dedicated number of Yellowknifers own, train and operate dog-sled teams, but this is an expensive and time-consuming hobby. Many more Yellowknifers — along with tourists — take advantage of the two dog-sled operators in town, who offer a range of dog-sledding experiences, including Beck’s Kennels/Aurora Wonderland, owned by champion dog-sledding champion Glenn Beck, and Aurora Village.


There are several local ice-hockey leagues you can participate in, depending on age, experience and commitment level.

Ice Fishing

A familiar pastime on the lakes around Yellowknife, ice-fishing attracts two types of practitioners: serious fishers, who head out to favoured spots and bring back serious catches; and more casual adventurers, who head out for a chance to spend some quality time around a hole in the ice, and aren’t that worried about the catch. Be sure, however to get a fishing license whatever your intentions.


The Yellowknife Ski Club is a volunteer-run organization dedicated to celebrating one of the city’s best-loved winter activities. In a town surrounded by ideal cross-country skiing terrain, the Yellowknife Ski Club hosts regular events — skiing and biathlon training programs, races, loppets — and is home to a 14km trail system just outside of town, with routes suitable for everyone from beginner to pro, and a 2km night-time trail with lighting. A heated two-story ski club with a kitchen, washrooms, waxing room, and a great viewing room, is open to members 24/7. Non-members can access everything for a $10/day fee.

You don’t need to stick to the trails, with a multitude of nearby lakes offering plenty of first-class conditions. Many Yellowknifers take to Yellowknife Bay on Great Slave Lake for recreational ski outings on weekends, or head off down the Ingraham trail for some off-track bush skiing. Some even commute to work via cross-country skis. Just be sure, if you’re going onto lake ice, that ice conditions are safe, especially in early winter and late spring.

A relatively recent variation on straight ahead cross-country skiing is ski-joring, a combination of skiing with dog sledding, in which skiers harness themselves up to canine companions for a pooch-powered ride across the snow. Increasingly, Yellowknife offers ski-joring resources for those looking to adopt this trend.

Another high-powered variation often seen on Yellowknife Bay is kite-skiing, in which skiers power themselves along with a kite-flying harness, on alpine skis or snowboards. You’ll find local outfitters who offer training and equipment, including Aquilon Power Kite and Bluefish Services.

Facebook buy-and-sell pages are a good place to find secondhand skis for sale, while local outdoor sports emporium Overlander offers skis and ski equipment — and ski-joring harnesses — for purchase or rental.


With its mostly flat terrain, Yellowknife has never been a snowboarding mecca, but that’s been changing lately, with increased activity by the Ragged Riders Snowboarding Club and the NWT Snowboard Association, who’ve been developing the Bristol Pit on the outskirts of the city as a full-fledged groomed terrain park, with a heated clubhouse and a handle-tow lift rope. An annual membership is $75, while equipment rental is available for $20/day.

Peaking at the Pit


Recreational snowmobiling is an extremely popular winter activity around the city. The main organization dedicated to putting on events, rides and rallies is the Great Slave Snowmobiling Association. The GSSA, a non-profit group, also takes responsibility for clearing trails, adding signage along the trail system, fund-raising for a Kubota RTV to pull a Snowmobile Trail Groomer, and being a voice for snowmobilers within the community. The spring sees a host of snowmobiling races and events across the territory, but groups and individuals can be found on frozen lakes, rivers and trails throughout the winter.

Indoor Facilities

This large multi-purpose facility contains two arenas (Olympic-size and NHL-size), the Yellowknife Gymnastics Club and concession services.

Yellowknife Climbing Club
A volunteer-run club, TKCC offers indoor climbing for every level from novice up.

Ruth Inch Memorial Pool
The city’s pool offers beach access and hot tub lift to allow accessibility for all abilities and ages, as well as a steam room and whirlpool, a large outdoor deck with a BBQ and picnic tables overlooking Frame Lake.

Fitness and Yoga Clubs, Gyms

There are scores of private clubs and gyms throughout the city offering variations on yoga-based fitness, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and squash to keep you fit through the winter:

Arctic Combat Fitness and MMA
MMA, Judo, Kickboxing and others.

Alliance Arctic Jiu Jitsu
Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Breakaway Fitness
Fitness classes and personal trainers.

Collective Soul Space
A wide range of Yogic classes and workshops.

Just Fitness
Crossfit, MMA and intense personal training programs.

NWT Judo Association

Racquet Club
Four squash courts, 40 regular courses a week, and a popular hot tub to help beat the winter blues.

Taiga Yoga and Therapy Centre
Classes, workshops and therapy sessions.

Indoor Winter Sports Leagues

The Yellowknife Curling Centre offers an eight-sheet curling rink with viewing areas upstairs and downstairs, open daily for everyone from beginners to advanced.

There are several local ice-hockey leagues you can participate in, depending on age, experience and commitment level.

Yellowknife Speed Skating Club


Summers are short, but the days are long and Yellowknifers approach them with intensity. Taking to the waters and campsites that surround the city every weekend. Many plan elaborate, weeks-long canoe treks, while others hike to popular scenic spots within a hour or so. And the land is big enough that despite the popularity of these destinations, you’ll never feel crowded.


Yellowknife has multiple campsites surrounding it, including three territorial campsites supplied with modern amenities and facilities:

Fred Henne Territorial Park, just outside the city on Long Lake, has picnic sites, a boat launch and kitchen shelters, as well as a sandy beach, a playground and changing stations. In summer, the lake warms up enough to make it a hotspot for a wide range of water activities. This is the short-term getaway for Yellowknifers.

Prelude Lake Park, around 30 km up the Ingraham Trail, is the largest developed park on the Ingraham Trail, with powered and non-powered campsites, a sandy beach and a trail system.

Reid Lake, 60 kilometres up the Ingraham Trail, is a popular camping site on its own, as well as a base for longer trips into the wilderness.

Hidden Lake Park is an undeveloped 3,000-acre park with no facilities provided, centred around one of the area’s most beautiful lakes. Hike-in access is a series of rivers and lakes linked by short portages, from Powder Point on the Ingraham Trail. Two day-use areas, (Powder Point and Cameron Falls), service the park with picnicking and other facilities.

There are also several day-use parks including Yellowknife River Bridge, Prosperous Lake, Madeline Lake, Pontoon Lake, Cameron Falls, and the Cameron River Bridge, and endless locations along the Ingraham Trail or outside of Yellowknife for backcountry camping.

You can find more detailed information about the campsites, and reserve a campsite online, at NWT Parks.


Located on the shore of the tenth largest lake in the world, Yellowknife is home to a vibrant boating community. There are working boats that ply the waters of the lake, involved in a variety of local industry, and a wide range of recreational vessels, from high-end yachts to kayaks, canoes and aluminum fishing craft. Aside from Great Slave, the region is home to many lakes large and small, as well as the Yellowknife River.

Boat launches can be found at nine local lakes, including Great Slave, Vee Lake/Walsh Lake, Prosperous Lake, Madeline Lake, Pontoon Lake, Prelude Lake, Powder Point, Reid Lake and Tibbett Lake.

There are several outfitters and tour operators in town for anyone wishing to get a taste of  northern boating, as well as companies that offer canoe, kayak, paddleboard and boat rentals, and sales/repairs.

Narwal Northern Adventures offers kayaks at reasonable rates.

Old Town Paddle & Co. have paddleboards for daily or weekend rate.

Omega Marine have aluminum and inflatable boats for rent.

Overlander Sports have canoe and kayak rentals available, as well as sales.

Prelude Lake Marina and Rentals rent fishing boats and pontoons out at Prelude Lake.

There are two boating organizations in the city: The Great Slave Sailing Club, which organizes races and events, as well as offering lessons during the summer,  and The Great Slave Yacht Club.


With all that water surrounding it, Yellowknife is famously a sport fisher’s paradise. There are six major fish species in the Yellowknife area: Arctic Grayling, Inconnu, Lake Trout, Lake Whitefish, Northern Pike, and Pickerel (Walleye). There’s a small commercial fishing industry as well.

Favourite fishing areas include: The Yellowknife River bridge, Pontoon Lake, Prelude Lake, Prosperous Lake and Walsh Lake

Fishing licenses are a must before you head out, for anyone between 16-65. They, along with regulations about fishing in the NWT, can be found online here, or around town at various locations. Recreational boating licenses are not currently required in the NWT, but it is recommended that you take a boat safety course. Information about boating regulations north of 60 can be found here.


Yellowknife has an extensive network of trails in and around it, and many popular hiking destinations close by. Take heed: the further you get from civilization, the more wildlife you will encounter, and that can sometimes include bears. Attacks are very rare but it’s best to take precautions. You can find a guide to safety in black bear and grizzly country here.

The Frame Lake/McMahon Trail System: 5 km of walking paths connecting the downtown core with the residential and commercial neighbourhoods.

Prospector’s Trail: 4 km trail that starts and finishes in the Fred Henne Territorial Park.

Niven Lake Trail: 2 km trail circles a small lagoon. It connects to trails that lead to the Yellowknife Ski Club, and to the historic Back Bay Cemetery.

Range Lake Trail: A 1 km trail connects to the Frame Lake trail system to include suburban Frame Lake South.

Tin Can Hill: A popular off-leash area for dog walkers that once connected Yellowknife’s Old Town with the Con Mine site.

Ranney Hill Trail: Accessible off the Vee Lake Road, this 2.5 km natural hiking trail is a popular afternoon adventure.

Big Hill Lake: A 6 km (round trip) trail accessible via the Ingraham Trail to Madeline Lake.

Prelude Lake Trail: A 2.5 km scenic nature trail loop within the Prelude Lake Territorial Campground (30 kilometers east).

Cameron Falls Trail: A 2 km round trip pathway to Cameron Falls on the Cameron River, accessible from the Ingraham Trail, 46 kilometers east of Yellowknife.