Sample the rugged landscapes and wildlife and rich Indigenous culture of Canada’s Northland with a road trip between Yellowknife and Fort Providence. The Northwest Territories stretch from the Great Slave Lake through the Arctic Circle, encompassing the scenic Canadian Shield and Mackenzie Mountains. While this landscape might feel untouched by civilization, towns like Yellowknife and Fort Providence prove otherwise, providing welcoming hubs for experiencing life north of the 60th parallel. And what a unique life this is. Watch for moose, wolves, and bison while you’re driving through. Or, pull off the road to take in the area’s epic scenery. Recreation varies by season, but these residents don’t let the long winters trap them indoors.
Be sure to pack food and drinks for this trip, because the 3.5-hour drive doesn’t offer many stops when it comes to dining.
Canadian Midas locations
Midas wants to help you get ready for your summer road trip, starting with your vehicle. Our techs can run a completely free Closer Look Vehicle Check. This in-depth visual inspection lets you know what needs fixing now and what can wait, so you can hit the road with confidence.
Make the trip before the trip to Midas and get $20 off a full-synthetic oil change. Request your appointment at Midas.com.
Start your road trip in the capital (and only city of the Northwest Territories), Yellowknife. Named after the Dene Tribe, the “Yellowknife Indians,” Yellowknife is rich in Canadian history and one of Canada’s most popular tourist attractions, thanks to incredibly long summer days and natural landscapes you won’t find elsewhere. With a wide range of places to stay, a diversity of delicious food, and activities for all ages, a visit to Yellowknife is a must.
Venture to the banks of Great Slave Lake to stand on the shores of North America’s deepest lake. If you visit in winter, be sure to take a dog-sledding excursion, go ice fishing, and drive the Dettah Ice Road for a true Northland adventure. In spring, the waters flow, welcoming paddlers, boaters, and anglers.
Aurora Village is a place you honestly have to see to believe. Home to a mystical green aurora that has allegedly inspired dozens of Canada’s northern legends, there’s nothing quite like staring into the mesmerizing Aurora Village sky. With friendly and informative guides and several full-service packages to choose from, you can grab a flight, hotel, and viewing package for a price that won’t break the bank. Relax in the Teepee Village as you await the sky dance, and don’t forget your camera to capture all the magic of the Northern Lights.
Make your way to Wildcat Cafe to get your caffeine fix, along with your choice of delicious food. Open during the summer season, the historical log-cabin cafe represents the mining lifestyle when the city of Yellowknife was first founded. Renovated in 2011, Wildcat is a popular destination for visitors from around the world. A replica of the cabin was added to the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
For a complete and thorough showcasing of the Northwest Territories’ culture and heritage, visit the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. Welcoming more than 60,000 visitors each year, the museum is loaded with historical artifacts, cultural exhibits, museum collections, Northwest Territories-inspired art, and more. After seeing boots from 500 B.C.E., a sewing kit from 1907, and moccasins from 1950, you’ll have a vivid idea of the history that makes the Northwest Territories so unique.
Reid Lake Territorial Park
Become one with nature at the breathtaking Reid Lake Territorial Park. With more than 65 non-powered campsites and 11 tent pads to set up your temporary home, Reid Lake Territorial Park is the perfect place to fish, swim, canoe, hike, and observe the virtually endless diversity of wildlife that calls the park home. Canoe down Lower Cameron River or the Jennejohn Lake Canoe Route, or hike your way through the Waterfalls Route. Reid Lake Territorial Park is home to world-class nature views and plenty to keep the entire group entertained for days.
North Arm Territorial Park
The second of three incredible parks during your trip through the Northwest Territories, North Arm Territorial Park does not disappoint. Home to magnificent views of the Great Slave Lake and an endless number of spots to picnic or relax, it’s the perfect day getaway to enjoy nature. Just off the highway, you’ll have access to free parking, restrooms, and wooden benches to soak in the surrounding scenery.
Chan Lake Territorial Park
Another gorgeous day park, Chan Lake Territorial Park is at the northern tip of Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary. If you haven’t seen any bison yet, that’s likely to change as the local bison frequently walk on the highway. This quiet spot just off the road gives access to picturesque views of the surrounding land and has picnic tables and fire pits, which are perfect for a cookout. Easily accessible, clean, and modern, you’ll be glad you took a few hours to stop and take in the sights.
Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary
Get up close and personal with one of nature’s most majestic animals at the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary. Established in 1963, the sanctuary allows hundreds of bison to roam free in their natural habitat. Home to two distinct types of bison, the sanctuary showcases the beauty of these massive mammals. The Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary is the first-recorded successful bison relocation program and is sure to increase your sense of appreciation and wonder.
Fort Providence is one of Canada’s most idyllic small towns with only slightly more than 600 residents. Located on the banks of the Mackenzie River, Fort Providence is surrounded by waterways, wildlife, and wild spaces. Explore some of the surrounding forests and waterfront trails, go fishing or boating, or take the Waterfalls Route to Kakisa to find several waterfalls in the region, including Lady Evelyn Falls. Fort Providence is stocked with an assortment of rental cabins, restaurants, supermarkets, craft shops and more.
Wind down your trip through the Northwest Territories with a drive along the Mackenzie River, the longest river system in Canada. Covering five Canadian provinces, the “great river” is an essential part of the Canadian landscape. Twisting and turning through forest and tundra, the Mackenzie River offers a variety of incredible views. Take a drive across the Deh Cho Bridge to marvel at the engineering of the longest bridges in northern Canada.
With more than 1,144,000 square kilometers of mystifying landscapes, this region has countless reasons for you to stay and experience more. Continue west to Nahanni National Park Reserve to explore a land of caves, canyons, and waterfalls. Go north to find the pristine waters of Great Bear Lake. Or, stay near Fort Providence and Yellowknife, as you’ve barely scratched the surface of all these towns offer.