Stop by the Northern Frontier Regional Visitor Centre (tel. 877/881-4262 or 867/873-4262; www.northernfrontier.com), on 49th Street (just north of 49th Ave.) on the west edge of town, to see a number of exhibits explaining the major points of local history, ecology, and Native culture. You'll want to put the kids on the "bush flight" elevator, which simulates a flight over Great Slave Lake while slowly rising to the second floor. The center also has a video library and information on walking trails, parks, and outdoor activities. Also, pick up a free parking pass, enabling you to escape the parking meters. It's open May through August daily 8:30am to 6pm, and the rest of the year Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm and weekends noon to 4pm. In many ways, Yellowknife is a city of one: one movie theatre (Capital Theatre; 4920 52nd St.; tel. 867/873-2302), one book store (Yellowknife Book Cellar; 4923 49th St.; tel. 800/944-6029 or 867/920-2220), one swimming pool (Ruth Inch Memorial Pool; 4807 52nd St.; tel. 867/920-5682), and one must-see museum (Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre; 4750 48th St.; tel. 867/873-7551; www.pwnhc.ca). The museum highlights the history, artifacts, and Aboriginal languages of the Northwest Territories. Permanent collections include a northern Aviation Gallery; an exhibit about Yamoga, the legendary Dene traveler and lawmaker; and a narrated documentary about a handmade moose-hide boat. You'll also learn about local hunters and early prospectors. Admission is free. June to August, it's open daily 10:30am to 5:30pm; September to May, it's open Tuesday to Friday 10:30am to 5pm and on weekends noon to 5pm. For information about new collections, visit http://pwnhc.learnnet.nt.ca. The museum's Heritage Cafe (tel. 867/873-7570) serves lunch Monday to Friday from 11:30am to 2pm and features homemade soups, sandwiches, and desserts. It's so popular with locals, reservations are recommended, especially on Fridays. While at the museum, drop by the NWT Legislature (tel. 800/661-0784 or 867-669-2230; www.assembly.gov.nt.ca) for a guided tour. The building is shaped like an igloo and looks like a giant glowing flying saucer at night. Free guided tours are held Monday to Friday at 10:30am. Additional tours are offered in the summer. Reservations are recommended for large groups.
Yellowknife honors its bush pilots in a number of ways. Bristol Monument is the actual airplane of legendary pilot Max Ward, founder of the now-defunct Wardair, which served international destinations in the 1980s after starting as a humble local air charter business. The aircraft was retired in 1968 after touching down at the North Pole. Rising above Old Town, the Bush Pilot's Monument is a stone pillar paying tribute to the little band of airmen who opened up the Far North. The surrounding cluster of shacks and cottages is the original Yellowknife, built on the shores of a narrow peninsula jutting into Great Slave Lake. Sprinkled along the inlets are half a dozen bush-pilot operations, minuscule airlines flying charter planes, as well as scheduled routes to outlying areas. The little floatplanes shunt around like taxis, and you can watch a landing or takeoff every hour of the day. Off the tip of the Old Town peninsula lies Latham Island, which you can reach by a causeway. The island includes N'dilo, a small aboriginal community with a few luxury homes and a number of B&Bs.
Tours & Excursions
Yellowknife Outdoor Adventures (3603 Franklin Ave.; tel. 867/444-8320; www.yellowknifeoutdooradventures.com) offers fishing trips ranging from C$125 to C$350, bird watching from C$100 to C$180, ice road tours for C$185, city tours for C$220, aurora watching by dog sled for C$155, and bison-viewing tours for C$195. Rates are per person but depend on a minimum of three people. The company will also customize an overnight trip to Hay River aboard a Buffalo Air DC-3 airplane for C$1,000 (which includes the flight and hotel). Buffalo Airways (tel. 867/873-6112; www.buffaloairways.com) is the airline profiled in the History Channel's smash hit NWT Ice Pilots.
DogPaddle Adventures (tel. 867/444-2242; www.dogpaddleadventures.com) offers, by season, canoe fishing trips or winter excursions involving dog-sled rides, snowmobiling, ice-fishing, and snow-shoeing, plus a primer on dog handling for mushers. Rates range from C$50 for an hour's dog-sled ride to C$250 per person for a day of ice-fishing and dog-sledding at a remote day camp.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.