Paddling in Yellowknife

Situated on the Northern shore of the Great Slave Lake in Canada, Yellowknife is the capital city of the Northwest territories and its biggest community. When gold was found in the vicinity in 1934, the city became popular for its mining potential. Yellowknife seems to have maintained this reputation as, from 1991, people began to mine diamonds.

Yellowknife’s population of around 20,000, is made up of a diverse range of ethnicities. Of the 11 languages officially spoken in the northwestern territories, 5 are spoken in Yellowknife. The area is described by the lonely planet as “friendly, multicultural, subarctic” (Yellowknife is only around 250 miles from the arctic circle). It is popular all year round whether summer or winter, and a wide range of activities can be enjoyed including dog sledding, hiking, golf and fishing. Yellowknife is also described as an ideal location to see the beautiful northern lights.

Why Yellowknife is popular for paddling

Being so close to the great slave lake makes Yellowknife an ideal place for paddling. The surrounding area plays host to a variety of lakes and rivers which give visitors the opportunity to test their skills in the water. Various routes are available for tourists; ranging from one-day trips, to longer (weekend plus) trips, if you have the time. On many of the routes, there is also campground allowing more ambitious tourists to be close to nature for the night, before setting off to get their thrills in the water the next day.

One factor which makes Yellowknife’s paddling experience popular, is the breath-taking scenery. Words only have a limited effect, so, for a taste of the Yellowknife experience, it is worth watching one of the many videos such as:

. Watch the sun beaming down on the canoer as he negotiates his way around the rocks and other hazards. The still weather shows how scenic his journey is as the clear skies place him in the spotlight. You will also notice the dense wilderness around him – touring Yellowknife can feel like you are exploring previously unchartered territory.

Paddling routes near Yellowknife

Luckily for tourists,, Yellowknife has been explored and routes have been suggested by various outdoor activity organisations to enable you to safely explore the environment. Check out some of the routes at Overlander Sports who provide you with a guide as to how you can experience Yellowknife at its most impressive, whether you are staying for a short or long period of time. The website provides useful advice for experienced paddlers, explaining the best routes for camping, and warning of the potential hazards caused by the weather.

Kayak lessons in Yellowknife

Before embarking on the big trips, however, it is sensible to learn your form of transport as best you can! Naturally, Yellowknife has a range of organisations who are able to offer assistance. The Visit Yellowknife website has some good information under ‘things to do’, including information on where you can rent canoes and kayaks. Kayak lessons are ideal for beginners, children and those that haven’t paddled in a while.

Paddle boarding lessons

A more modern form of water transportation, is known as paddle-boarding. This can be done in a variety of ways. The board is placed in the water, and you can then choose how you balance on the board, depending on your level of ambition. Many people begin by lying on the board, and paddling using their arms to travel on the water. Other, more daring participants stand on the board and use paddles to transport themselves. There are a wide range of board options to choose from, including the relatively new inflatable options which are proving popular amongst river paddlers because they can withstand knocking into rocks and pebbles.

Or, if you want to progress from lying down, try kneeling on the board and use either your arms or paddles to move! Whichever method you adopt, paddle-boarding can be enormously fun and as your group may consist of different ability levels, you can all participate in the activity at the same time, making it an ideal group activity.

Yellowknife provides lessons for paddle-boarding. Check out the video below from Old Town Paddle for a general overview of stand up paddling in the area.

Once mastered, stand up paddle can be an incredible way of travelling along the water to take in the breathtaking scenery that Yellowknife has to offer. If you can create a good technique, you will find yourself moving along swiftly; barely paying attention to the water moving in front of you. What a fantastically, relaxing way of getting fit whilst exploring the great outdoors!

Whichever method you choose to explore Yellowknife, ensure that you use one that you are comfortable with and suits your skillset and levels of fitness. If you want to progress your skills, why not learn them in between visits as we can guarantee that you will not be able to see all of Yellowknife during a short stay. Come back next year and participate in the full experience (perhaps including camping) and it is quite possible that you will not even consider holidaying anywhere else in the future. With the wilderness decreasing on a day by day basis, be sure to check Yellowknife out while you can.