Exploring Yellowknife

How to go canoeing or kayaking around Yellowknife

fishing in Yellowknife

In Yellowknife, we have four months of open water from June through September. With our 18 to 20 hour days, Great Slave Lake and hundreds of smaller lakes right on the doorstep, you can enjoy a lot of time on the water. Rent a canoe or kayak, windsurf on Back Bay, standup paddleboard, charter a motorboat or a sailboat. You can go fishing with a guide, or take a dinner cruise on one of our fully equipped tour boats. If you have the time, take a once in a lifetime cruise to the spectacular East Arm of Great Slave Lake.

If there ever was a place on this earth to have a canoe, surely Yellowknife is it. Dotted with hundreds of lakes and myriad waterways, you can go for a half hour paddle, a three-day trip or a month-long expedition, by changing direction from any one of several drop-in points.

Canoe, Kayak, Standup Paddleboard Rentals

Canoes, kayaks, standup paddleboards are easily rented in Yellowknife and owned by many residents. If you would like to rent one you can check at the following places:

Overlander Sports
4909 50 Street
View map

Narwal Northern Adventures
4702 Anderson-Thomson Blvd
View map

Old Town Paddle
3506 Raccine Road

Please practice safe canoeing and kayaking. You’ll be in a remote area with few people to help you. Never travel alone. Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Always travel with a good insect-proof shelter, rain gear, cooking gear, extra paddles, and rescue equipment. Wear a personal flotation device or lifejacket at all times. Our water temperatures are usually cold and hypothermia from a sudden upset is a real danger, even on the warmest days.

Below is some more information on day and multiple day trips for either canoes or kayaks. For more information and place to go, we suggest talking to the folks at Arctic Tern who have put together several maps of popular and not so popular routes. You can find them at mapsnwt.com.

Day trips for experienced paddlers

Hidden Lake – Drop in at Powder Point, 40 km from Yellowknife on the Ingraham Trail. Several short but strenuous portages take you into one of the most scenic lakes in the Yellowknife area. Suitable for one, two or three day trips.

Lower Cameron River – A one-day trip for experienced paddlers, starting at Reid Lake about 60 km from Yellowknife on the Ingraham trail. Canoeists follow the Cameron River, portaging around several scenic waterfalls, to Powder Point.

Tartan Rapids – To really enjoy this trip some whitewater experience is necessary, but a portage trail allows novices to avoid the rapids, and enjoy the scenery. The trip starts at Cassidy Point, about 17 km from Yellowknife, and paddlers can return to the start, or follow the Yellowknife River to the Yellowknife River bridge.

Longer Trips

Tibbitt Lake Loop – An easy weekend trip, this route circles back to the start, at the end of the Ingraham Trail, 65 km from Yellowknife, and features a variety of wilderness scenery and good camping.

Powder Point to Yellowknife River Bridge – This is a four-day trip crossing big lakes, with excellent camping, and just a few portages. However, because Prelude and Prosperous Lakes are so large they can be dangerous in windy conditions. A shorter trip might start, or end, at the Prelude Lake boat launch.

Pensive Lakes – This four-day wilderness trip for experienced canoeists takes you north from Tibbitt Lake, through good camping country, to reach the top of the Cameron River rapids, an 8 km run.

Upper Cameron River – This two day trip for whitewater enthusiasts starts at Tibbitt Lake, 65 km from Yellowknife and heads south and west to follow a challenging but enjoyable route with several rapids and a waterfall. The trip ends at Reid Lake campground.

Jennejohn – This is a five-day wilderness canoe trip, with several portages, for experienced canoeists. Starting at Reid Lake, the trip follows a string of beautiful lakes and ends at Akaitcho Bay on Great Slave Lake, near Dettah. A map and compass are necessary, and wind can be a problem on Reid, Jennejohn and Great Slave lakes.


About the author

Kyle Thomas

Kyle grew up in Yellowknife and is a local entrepreneur, writer, baker, and Yellowknife Advocate who is addicted to learning as much as he can about the community and sharing it with anyone who'll listen. In 2009 he developed YkOnline.ca. A website all about living, working and thriving in Yellowknife for residents, newcomers, and visitors.


  • Great comprehensive compendium of advice and information – just right for this Yellowknifer who wants to set out! Thank you

    • Have fun, Tasha. Let us know if you have any tips and information of your own you want to share!

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