THE SUMMER AURORA DREAM

Let me break your heart right from the start here. Unfortunately, if you're planning to be here in May, June, or July, you really, really aren't likely to see the aurora because of our long daylight hours through the summer months.

Aurora season in Yellowknife is August to April. These are our safe zones. I've seen the aurora as early as the 22nd of July, and as late as the 11th of May - but it's a good idea to keep your visits from anytime in August all the way through to the very end of April if your main focus is the northern lights. 

AUTUMN:

Warm, longer northern days make it more likely to combine the sunset and subsequently gorgeous twilight skies with the northern lights all in one. If you've ever dreamt of seeing the aurora dance while witnessing a lightning storm in the distance, this is the time of year for you. Reflections of the northern lights off the water will take your breath away before things begin to freeze up in November. We'll leave the parkas inside for these few months, but carry ample mosquito repellent for August and perhaps a few days in September.

August; late evening sunsets will take us right into our aurora chasing hours which can present us with spectacular photography opportunities. The days are warm, the nights are beginning to cool down - even to 5ºC, and the skies very often clear - my favourite conditions. Of note: particularly during the first half of August, it's likely our tour length may be reduced based on longer summer days. We may not depart until as late as 23:00, and return home between 2am - 4am, but we will ensure we take advantage of the unique night sky we do have this time of year!

August; late evening sunsets will take us right into our aurora chasing hours which can present us with spectacular photography opportunities. The days are warm, the nights are beginning to cool down - even to 5ºC, and the skies very often clear - my favourite conditions.

Of note: particularly during the first half of August, it's likely our tour length may be reduced based on longer summer days. We may not depart until as late as 23:00, and return home between 2am - 4am, but we will ensure we take advantage of the unique night sky we do have this time of year!

September; because the autumn equinox falls within this month, it's not uncommon to witness heightened aurora activity through September, and into October. The weather is generally quite favourable carrying over from August, although there will be cloudy nights, and we will need to chase clear skies. If someone tells you it's going to be 'warm' overnight this month, they're lying. Temperatures will hover around 0°C for much of the month. Bring warmer clothes than you think you'll need.

September; because the autumn equinox falls within this month, it's not uncommon to witness heightened aurora activity through September, and into October. The weather is generally quite favourable carrying over from August, although there will be cloudy nights, and we will need to chase clear skies. If someone tells you it's going to be 'warm' overnight this month, they're lying. Temperatures will hover around 0°C for much of the month. Bring warmer clothes than you think you'll need.

October; the ultimate balance between typically really good auroral activity, and the beginning of winter. And freeze up around here does mean we're going to have some cloud this month - although your first week to two weeks are usually a safe bet that falls inline with September's tendencies. During the last half of October, lake effect cloud is something to be aware of, and often general forecasts do not account for this. What it means, is as colder air masses move over Great Slave Lake, it picks up warmer, moist air over the lake, forming broken or overcast mid-altitude cloud which can linger over Yellowknife for days at a time. So while the payoff is often great in October, be also prepared to spend some nights cosied up at your accommodation under cloud, but hopefully armed with candles, coffee, and a book.

October; the ultimate balance between typically really good auroral activity, and the beginning of winter. And freeze up around here does mean we're going to have some cloud this month - although your first week to two weeks are usually a safe bet that falls inline with September's tendencies.
During the last half of October, lake effect cloud is something to be aware of, and often general forecasts do not account for this. What it means, is as colder air masses move over Great Slave Lake, it picks up warmer, moist air over the lake, forming broken or overcast mid-altitude cloud which can linger over Yellowknife for days at a time. So while the payoff is often great in October, be also prepared to spend some nights cosied up at your accommodation under cloud, but hopefully armed with candles, coffee, and a book.

WINTER:

While there's certainly no question these months can bring us some challenging conditions, it's what being north of 60º is all about. These months will provide some of the greatest payoffs in terms of your experience. November and early December may mean longer drives chasing for the aurora in the way of searching out clear skies, but we'll find music you enjoy, and conversation that's inspiring while you stretch out and keep warm in my Transit. This to me, is what aurora chasing is all about, these are the nights that thrill me the most. And for those evenings where we may see the temperature drop to -40ºC, we'll keep you warm bundled up in Canada Goose gear, or inside the vehicle if you prefer - where you can take in the aurora through the panoramic moonroof. There's nothing like being here in winter.

November; not as bad as you've probably heard. Some tour companies up here shut down, but not this one. In fact, in the 2013-2014 aurora season, November was the third clearest month (August-April). We will pay more special attention to weather patterns here, and drives in November may be longer some nights, but all with the intent of getting us in the direction of clearer skies. And all of that means one thing - the best chance of viewing the aurora; where the results will be breathtaking and worthwhile in a particularly beautiful winter wonderland of trees and landscapes all covered in fresh snow. Of note: while I would never (in a million years) recommend gambling with just a one or two night stay up here seeking out an experience under the aurora, it's an especially bad idea this time of year because we may need to wait out some cloud. Give yourself an extra night or two, or three. 

November; not as bad as you've probably heard. Some tour companies up here shut down, but not this one. In fact, in the 2013-2014 aurora season, November was the third clearest month (August-April). We will pay more special attention to weather patterns here, and drives in November may be longer some nights, but all with the intent of getting us in the direction of clearer skies. And all of that means one thing - the best chance of viewing the aurora; where the results will be breathtaking and worthwhile in a particularly beautiful winter wonderland of trees and landscapes all covered in fresh snow.

Of note: while I would never (in a million years) recommend gambling with just a one or two night stay up here seeking out an experience under the aurora, it's an especially bad idea this time of year because we may need to wait out some cloud. Give yourself an extra night or two, or three. 

December; November was cold, until you're into December. But as colder nights return, so do the clear skies which once again give us better odds of seeing the lights. If Yellowknife has had a particularly cold beginning to winter, it's possible the ice roads will open up toward the end of the month, although January is a more sure bet for that. 

December; November was cold, until you're into December. But as colder nights return, so do the clear skies which once again give us better odds of seeing the lights. If Yellowknife has had a particularly cold beginning to winter, it's possible the ice roads will open up toward the end of the month, although January is a more sure bet for that. 

January; the holidays have come and gone, and how many of you got goose down parkas for Christmas? Because you're going to need them. Just kidding, we'll get you set up with some, but this is the month to bundle up. Temperatures can be frigid, but wonderful opportunities to lay out on frozen lakes where the landscapes around us will be painted green from the aurora dancing the entire sky overhead will be plentiful.

January; the holidays have come and gone, and how many of you got goose down parkas for Christmas? Because you're going to need them. Just kidding, we'll get you set up with some, but this is the month to bundle up. Temperatures can be frigid, but wonderful opportunities to lay out on frozen lakes where the landscapes around us will be painted green from the aurora dancing the entire sky overhead will be plentiful.

SPRING(ISH):

Ahhh, March 21st, the first day of spring. Rejuvenation, rebirth, everything's blooming, all that stuff. Except March in Yellowknife has seen -35ºC, there's still ice on the lakes in May, and the winds aren't exactly 'warm' just yet, which makes spring in up here a little different. What isn't all that different is the way the days lengthen so quickly. Sunset stretches later into each evening, bringing back the possibility to view the aurora under a deep twilight coloured sky. Then, there's the excitement I personally feel this time of year - knowing the aurora is closing in on it's final days before giving way to bright summer nights where this far north, we won't see the lights back in the sky again until August.

 

February; carrying right over from January, we can expect very similar conditions in terms of weather and temperatures. Although clear skies remain abundant, and still the nights will be very cold, warmer temperatures (around the -20ºC) can bring in occasional cloud. Few things rival the clear, still, nights enjoyed under great big skies on great big lakes.

February; carrying right over from January, we can expect very similar conditions in terms of weather and temperatures. Although clear skies remain abundant, and still the nights will be very cold, warmer temperatures (around the -20ºC) can bring in occasional cloud. Few things rival the clear, still, nights enjoyed under great big skies on great big lakes.

March; beginning to exit the more harsh temperatures of the last few months, March is when the days flip to become longer than the nights. While some inconsistency in the weather can be expected as the seasons begin to shift, it's likely longer spells of clear nights do continue into April. In my experience, this time of year has brought some of the more dramatic displays of the northern lights that I recall. Also, through the last two-three weeks of the month, it is possible to enjoy the sunset, twilight and the aurora together should we be blessed with the right timing and right auroral activity which is something we will monitor with great eagerness. Overall, there's no question this is a great time to chase the aurora in Yellowknife!

March; beginning to exit the more harsh temperatures of the last few months, March is when the days flip to become longer than the nights. While some inconsistency in the weather can be expected as the seasons begin to shift, it's likely longer spells of clear nights do continue into April. In my experience, this time of year has brought some of the more dramatic displays of the northern lights that I recall. Also, through the last two-three weeks of the month, it is possible to enjoy the sunset, twilight and the aurora together should we be blessed with the right timing and right auroral activity which is something we will monitor with great eagerness. Overall, there's no question this is a great time to chase the aurora in Yellowknife!

April; moving gently on from the spring equinox, the days have now become considerably longer than the darkness of the nights, and warming days and nights are well on their way! Amongst all this good news, is that April usually gives us long strings of clear skies as well. Along with August, this is one of the best months to combine twilight skies into aurora viewing which obviously makes for exceptional photography under the right conditions. Please note: during the last few weeks of April, there is a probability that tour departure times may be later than usual because of the increased daylight hours. Expect departures as late as 23:00, with us still returning anywhere between 2am and 4am.

April; moving gently on from the spring equinox, the days have now become considerably longer than the darkness of the nights, and warming days and nights are well on their way! Amongst all this good news, is that April usually gives us long strings of clear skies as well. Along with August, this is one of the best months to combine twilight skies into aurora viewing which obviously makes for exceptional photography under the right conditions.
Please note: during the last few weeks of April, there is a probability that tour departure times may be later than usual because of the increased daylight hours. Expect departures as late as 23:00, with us still returning anywhere between 2am and 4am.