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November 29, 2021

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Northern sights

Around Yellowknife, the fall delivers impressive aurora watching without the cold and snow

If you think the depths of winter are the only time to see the aurora borealis, banish the thought! And if you think autumn’s parade of colour is the exclusive offering of those leafy, East-Coast deciduous forests, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

It turns out the colourful combo of two of nature’s best shows are on display simultaneously each fall in the Northwest Territories. Locals know the shoulder seasons — fall and spring — deliver impressive displays of the Northern Lights.

Meanwhile, leaves on dwarf birch, willow and other trees and shrubs start their colour transformation in the late summer. It’s a 24/7 colour extravaganza. By day, you can see the land turning into a fiery carpet of colour; by night you can watch the dancing aurora in the northern skies reflected in a still lake.

The best part? You get to kick back to enjoy the show without the snow and cold. Photographers: picture shooting a dimly lit sky filled with swirling northern light with its complete reflection mirrored in a northern lake -- and no gloves!

A number of Northwest Territories tour operators offer fall aurora-viewing packages, usually from late August through September. Though the aurora season stretches all the way to April.

For example, True North Safaris (tel: 888-359-9532; runs fall aurora viewing out of Mackay Lake Lodge. The tour includes charter flights from Yellowknife to the lodge, all accommodations, guides and meals. Rates start at $1795 for a three-night stay from Friday to Monday.

And Blachford Lake Lodge (tel: 867-873-3303; offers spectacular views of the aurora from their hot tub. A five-night package runs for $2675, including flight from Yellowknife, all meals and two interpretive tours a day. For more information, consult Northwest Territories Tourism (tel: 800-661-0788;

Courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission. The text has been modified from the original.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.


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