“You’re sitting around the campfire, you’re looking up, and the aurora are dancing across the sky. It’s an incredible experience.”
At Yellowknife’s Trailblazer Tours, it’s an experience you can almost reach out and touch – helped by platforms above each of their cabins on the ice.
“Once the ice is safe, customers rent the cabins overnight or just to go out and view the aurora. You can go out and have a warm cabin, relax and view the aurora from inside through the skylight or go outside and sit around the fire,” said Nadine Ellsworth, Trailblazer Tours owner and operator.
This holiday season, you can pick up gift cards that cover or contribute toward a trip for loved ones or friends – whether that’s aurora viewing, ice fishing or snowmobiling.
You can take snowmobile tours of the scenery around Yellowknife or head out on a snow machine on a four-hour ice fishing trip.
“When we take customers out, we do a fish fry when we pull the fish out of the water. Some people have never been ice fishing before or they’ve never experienced net pulling – and some of them have never eaten fish. It seems to be one of our biggest draws,” said Ellsworth.
The tour operator has even found an audience in the healthcare workers who come to Yellowknife for short periods to keep services running at the city’s hospital.
“We have locals that want to bring their families out when they come up for visits, we have people that come up from down south for meetings who want to get out and experience something different, and a lot of locums that come in, like doctors and nurses,” Ellsworth said.
“They want to experience something. After they’ve had a long shift at the hospital, they want to get out and do something different.” (One Yellowknife emergency room physician recently suggested helping locums to uncover experiences around the city in a bid to encourage them to stay and contribute to the North.)
All the equipment and clothing you need for a winter snowmobile, aurora-viewing or ice-fishing trip is provided by Trailblazer Tours. All guides live locally, Ellsworth said.
“Growing up as a kid in northern Newfoundland, some of my greatest memories were that our parents would take us out on the land, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling,” she said, explaining the spark that drives her business.
“What we’re hearing from a lot of our customers is that they want to make memories with their kids as well.
“Getting out on the land connects them as a family, de-stressing and taking care of their mental health and their wellbeing. It brings a lot of joy to us, as well, that we can provide that to our customers.”
This article appears as part of a paid partnership with NWT Tourism inviting northerners to Give the Gift of Experience this holiday season. Watch out for six articles highlighting different experiences you can try in the Northwest Territories, even if you already live here.