When it comes to popular bucket list items, seeing the Northern Lights is right up there with skydiving and bungee jumping. Everyone has seen the images of bright, vibrant colours filling the dark night sky, but these images don’t even come close to experiencing it in real life. And if you want to experience the real thing, the Northwest Territories is the place to do it.
Capital city Yellowknife has been dubbed the Aurora Capital of North America, but the entire territory provides unrivaled opportunities to see the skies explode with reds, blues, and greens.
There are so many different ways you can choose to experience aurora-watching.
Maybe you'd like to watch the Northern Lights in rustic wilderness luxury? Fly on a bush plane--equipped with floats in autumn and skis in winter -- and land alongside Blachford Lake Lodge, an oasis of rustic luxury in the Northwest Territories' wilderness near Yellowknife. In autumn you can spend the day hiking, paddling and fishing before watching the Aurora blaze the night sky. In the winter, ice skate on the frozen lake, mush huskies on a dogsled, stomp off on snowshoes or hop on a snowmobile and experience the wide-open Northern backcountry. Sit down to local cuisine like bison and pike, then slip into the hot tub and watch flowing curtains of Northern Lights shimmer and loop across the horizon--fireworks on a cosmic scale.
Maybe you'd prefer a teepee to a cabin? Head to Yellowknife's Aurora Village, and marvel at the sight of large, brightly-lit teepees set among the trees. These traditional structures will be your home for the night, but don't worry--a wood-stove and warm drinks will help keep you comfortable after precious hours spent admiring nature's light show.
Or maybe you'd rather the Northern Lights be the final stage of a true Northern adventure. Help hitch up a furry pack of enthusiastic huskies, and then slide into the sled behind them. Dash across moon-lit snow with your experienced Beck's Kennels' musher to a cosy cabin beneath the stars. When the coloured ribbons of Mother Nature's lightshow begin to shimmy across the sky, zip into a warm parka and head outside. After you've lived through the magic, step inside to share your pure joy with your fellow guests over hot drinks, soup, and traditional bannock bread.
The Northern Lights are visible in Northwest Territories for 240 nights every year. Pick your day, and start planning your visit with the help of the Northwest Territories Tourism website.