Canada’s Northwest Territories are so remote that they border the Arctic Ocean. In some places, bears outnumber humans and the scenery – soaring mountains, glassy lakes and lush forests – is captivating.
But the biggest drawcard is the northern lights. Nature’s most magnificent lightshow unfolds above this other-worldly landscape on an average of 240 nights a year, filling the atmosphere with a phosphorescent mist that slowly thickens before casting vast curtains of emerald green, yellow and purple lights across the night sky.
A 2.5-hour flight from Vancouver, on the northern shores of Great Slave Lake, Yellowknife is the gateway to the Northwest and the epicentre of northern lights viewing. The city is inland so it’s usually free of haze and cloud. Throw in minimal light pollution and conditions are optimal. There are two aurora seasons: late August to October, when temperatures are relatively benign; and mid-November to early April, when it’s freezing but the sky is clear.
Aurora hunters usually stay in hotels like The Explorer or Chateau Nova before venturing out of town to a viewing location. Rug up well – or indulge in Aurora Village’s fire-heated VITeepee experience.
Further off-grid, the eco-award-winning Blachford Lake Lodge & Wilderness Resort is accessible only via a 25-minute floatplane flight from Yellowknife and offers lodge or log-cabin accommodation with in-house chefs.