When to visit the Northwest Territories

by SmarterTravel Staff

The Northwest Territories is a popular four-season destination, attracting adventurers and stargazers. The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, dogsled races, snowmobiling, and ice fishing attract many visitors in the winter and early spring. Summers are the ideal time to hike and explore the wilderness of the Territory, with warm weather and endless sunlight. The fall brings caribou migration and colorful barrenland foliage.

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  • high season: June to mid-August
  • low season: October to May
  • shoulder season: mid-August to September

Viewing the Northern Lights is a major attraction in the Northwest Territories, and they are only visible during the eternal nighttime (up to 24 hours per day) that occurs from the early winter to early spring. The peak time for Northern Lights viewing occurs during January and February.

Weather Information

The summers are sunny and warm, with temperatures ranging from 69 degrees in June to the low 80s in July and early August. Winters can be dry and cold, with snow and temperatures occasionally reaching 40 degrees below zero.

Crowd Information

The Northern Lights attract many visitors, especially Japanese tourists to Yellowknife from December through March. Major events that also draw crowds are the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik and Folk on the Rocks in Yellowknife in mid-July.

Closure Information

Hotels remain open throughout the year, while most shops close for public holidays. Seasonal tourism operators close when the season ends.

When to Save

Prices for accommodations and tours do not fluctuate seasonally. Visitors traveling in large groups can receive discounts for the Northern Lights tours.

When to Book

Book at least a few months in advance to ensure availability and the best prices. Since summer airfare can be more expensive, it's best to book during the winter for summer travel.

Information provided by Northwest Territories Tourism.

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