It’s that time of year. Out with the old, and in with the new. Resolutions you hope to keep for more than a few weeks. And additions to your ever-growing bucket list. While it may be difficult to purge bad habits from your life, you only need a few vacation days and a little planning for your wish list of far-flung experiences to become a reality.
If your wish list includes a lot of winter activities, Yellowknife is the place to go. The capital of the Northwest Territories–one of Canada’s three federal territories–is located only 400 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle. Settlers first moved onto the land of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation when gold was found in the 1930s. Today, Yellowknife is known more for diamonds than gold; it became Canada’s “Diamond Capital” when the unbreakable mineral was found north of the city in the 1990s.
You’d never know it upon landing, though. Yellowknife seems to pop out of nowhere on the stark landscape. It’s surrounded by boreal forests and, for much of the year, frozen lakes. The city sits on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake, the deepest body of water in North America. This time of year, expect about five hours of daylight and temperatures well below zero. But with fur-trimmed parkas and caribou-skin mittens, you’ll be ready to play outside long after the sun sets.
Get to know Yellowknife by walking through Old Town, the first area settled along Yellowknife Bay. Here old trappers’ cabins line Ragged Ass Road, and the Bush Pilot’s Monument is dedicated to those who first opened up the far north. Join North Star Adventures on a snowmobile trip across the lake and try not to jump when the ice cracks. Learn how to drive your own team of sled dogs from a world champion dog racer at Beck’s Kennels. Follow the Ingraham Trail north to snowshoe around Tibbitt Lake. Keep an eye out for bison crossing the 45-mile road. And watch the aurora borealis dance across the dark sky from heated seats at Aurora Village.
After an active day, refuel at Bullock’s Bistro, a cramped old cabin where you help yourself to drinks and try to find an empty spot to add your signature to the counter or even the ceiling. Warm up with moose stew, and then order whatever fish was caught earlier that morning. Prefer something a little plusher? Fuego serves caribou, bison, and live music.
You’ll make friends wherever you eat dinner, and you’ll quickly be invited to join a hockey, a curling, or a broomball match in the morning. Now you’re knocking things off that hadn’t even made it to your bucket list yet.