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Yellowknife in June – what to expect and pack

Quick facts about Yellowknife in June

Weather, daylight, and Aurora in June

Average Temperature: 13.1°C – Warmest 18°C, Coldest 8.2°C
Average Hours of Daylight: 19:47:16 – Shortest 19:15:21, Longest 19:59:58
Average Aurora Observation Nights: 0
Tourism Popularity: Road trip travelers and fishing enthusiasts arrive in Yellowknife

June is breathing in the sweet smell of the forest foliage. June is finally getting out on the big lake. June is finally tending a garden that isn’t at risk of freezing. June is the start of the Yellowknife Farmers Market. June is staying up all night forgetting you have to work in the morning. June is spending the weekend at the ball diamond. June is avoiding all the road construction projects.

Okay, maybe the first couple of days of June won’t be the warmest and all of the ice might not be off Great Slave Lake yet, but it is still summer, dammit.

Prepare yourself for the longest days of the year and let’s jump into June.

Weather and Climate

June is the first month of the year where the temperature will be completely above 0ºC, or so it is supposed to be. By the beginning of June, most small lakes will be open with only Great Slave Lake, Prosperous Lake, Predule Lake and a handful of other larger lakes still partly covered with ice.

Yellowknife does see minimal rainfall which varies greatly from year-to-year. June sees the least amount of rainfall for months with no snowfall. And usually, the rainfall only occurs over the course of at most 3 days. This was a complete lie in 2018 where Yellowknife saw record rainfall in June for multiple weeks on end.

While most lakes do have open water it will take a couple weeks for that water to warm up enough for it to be comfortable to swim in. However, prepare yourself for an insane amount of sunlight, especially leading up to and after the summer solstice of June 21.

Aurora Forecast and Viewing

Let’s just cut to the chase for Aurora in June. You can not see the aurora borealis in June in Yellowknife. There is simply too much sunlight. The sky does not get dark enough.

It is so unrealistic to see the aurora in June that the organization, Astronomy North, that tracks viewable aurora nights throughout the Fall and Winter stops tracking at the end of April.

If you would like to view the Northern Light during warms temperatures look into visiting in August or Septemeber.

What to wear in June

Parka away, shorts outs.

By the end of June, you will be in full summer mode with shorts, tank top, and sandals. Don’t burn yourself though, get some sunscreen on that skin of yours that hasn’t seen sunlight in 8 months.

What to wear in June in Yellowknife is based more on where you are going to be and what you are doing. Here are some different scenarios:

Boating

On the water where it still might be a little cooler, you might need a hat, sunglasses, shorts, t-shirt, but with the option to full on a sweater and windbreaker. Sunscreen isn’t a bad idea either.

Baseball

During those days and evening on the ball diamond, you might need a hat, sunglasses, running shoes and long pants and shirt, or lots of bug spray. Days are hot and sunning, but evenings can be cool and perfect conditions for those mosquitos to feed.

Camping/Lounging

When out camping it should be all about the relaxation but without bug spray, you’ll be sorry. Shorts, t-shirt, sandals, a hat, and sunglasses might be ideal.

Hiking

While out hiking, especially in shaded swampy areas you will be subjected to the swarms of bugs, therefore, light, breathable pants are ideal as well as closed toed shoes. A t-shirt is acceptable with ample bug spray or a bug jacket. A hat and sunglasses are also ideal.

Basically just carry bug spray with you everywhere.

What else should you pack

Packing for the warmer month in Yellowknife is much easier than the winter. You need much less. During June, and depending on why you’re visiting, you really only need your essential clothing as mentioned above. Everything else is up to you. Here are some ideas:

Camera – A good camera is a requirement for taking good photos of the Aurora Borealis, but without them, most phone cameras work just as well, unless you are specifically looking to photograph the landscape and wildlife.

Telephoto Lens – If you’re a photographer looking for some good shots, bring a good telephoto lens for those opportunities to photograph wildlife and birds

Tripod – With that telephoto lens you will want some stabilization, even a small tripod will help.

For Anything Outdoors

If you are planning on doing anything outside here are some basic things you should carry with you at all times.

Extra Socks – If you’re out for a walk or hiking you may unintentionally hit a wet spot giving yourself a good soaker. Have that extra pair of wool socks on hand.

Snacks – Keep yourself fueled or as a backup if you’re longer than expected.

Whistle – For those times when you might need to make some noise.

Map – Know where you are going.

Sunscreen – The sun is strong and long this time of year.

Bug Spray – Save yourself before you get carried away. Bug spray will save your life and blood supply.

Bear Protection – Bears are out and about with young cubs so it doesn’t hurt to be prepared with a bear banger or spray.

Things you can do in June

Here are some of the key activities you can do in June (did we miss anything?):

Camping

Campgrounds open up in the middle of May as mentioned above, but nothing is stopping you from packing your bag and heading out on a hike for a night or two. Just note that around Yellowknife there are few designated hiking trails that are more than 10km.

Hiking

Hiking is an easy weekend activity and a quick escape from the city. We have a Yellowknife Online Hiking Trail Guide found here. A reminder though, Yellowknife is not a well established National Park. We have an abundance of wilderness but few long-trek marked trails for hiking. If you’re interested in multi-day excursions, canoeing might be more your style.

Birding

An activity that is slowly gaining more popularity around Yellowknife is birding. Into June different birds return and are flying through the area for many to watch and photograph. In the early part of June songbirds usually start arriving in Yellowknife. A good resource to learn more about birds in the NWT and Yellowknife is the Facebook groups Yellowknife Bird Arrivals and Birding NWT.

Biking

Whether it be with a regular bike, mountain bike or fat bike, with the snow gone summer biking season begins. Fat Bikes, which are great all year, provide a fun way to crawl over the rocky landscape Yellowknife sits on. Fat Bikes can be rented or you can join a Fat Bike tour. For the regular mountain biker, there are many trails that have been noted or are under development by the local MTB club. Trailforks has most of them mapped out.

Outdoor Sports

With summer comes the return of many outdoor organized sports like slow-pitch, fastball, volleyball, soccer, ultimate frisbee, golf, and cricket. There any many more sports that are always looking for people, so even if you don’t have a team, there is usually one looking for more people, just put yourself out there. A good list of all the sports organizations in Yellowknife can be found on the City of Yellowknife’s website.

Water Sports

Be it boating, canoeing, kayaking or SUPing(?), it is easy to be on the water when in Yellowknife. You can explore lakes forever around Yellowknife it seems. And don’t worry if you don’t have a vessel yet, you can always rent one to try out or if you’re just visiting.

Garage Saling

This is loved by locals and might be a little strange for a visitor, but we love garage saling in cities we’re visiting. Yellowknife is a die-hard garage sale community. So if you want a fun Saturday morning activity try your hand at garage saling, and believe me, it is more intense than you think. Best places to find a list of sale: Yktrader.com

Other things you can do in June

Eat Out – Yellowknife is a melting pot of different cultures from all over the North and the World. From Vietnamese and Ethiopian to Northern Fare and just good diner food with a twist. You would need more than a week to successfully eat a different cuisine each day while in Yellowknife.

Grab a Coffee – Like the abundance of eateries, Yellowknife likes coffee too, local coffee. Sure we have two Tim Hortons, but we love our local shops. Be it Luluz, Javaroma, Birchwood Coffee K’o, Gourmet Cup, Dancing Moose Cafe, Mario’s Marvelous Movie Emporium or Barren Ground Coffee. Yellowknife has your caffeine fix on lockdown.

Things you can not do in June

June is a summer month. Can we please call it that! It might be a little cool at first, it is definitely summer. So while Yellowknife embraces and loves its winter activities and lifestyle there is still a snowless and warm summer therefore not abling many activities prominent in the winter from being possible.

  • Aurora Viewing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Drive on an Ice Road
  • Dog Sledding
  • Ice Fishing
  • Visit the Ice Caves
  • Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Skating on an outdoor rink
  • Ski-joring/Kicksledding
  • Kite-skiing
  • Visit the Snowcastle

Annual Community Events

June brings the first slew of summer festival and events happening throughout the city.

Yellowknife Farmers Market

June is the start of the popular weekly event that happens Tuesday evenings at the City Hall/Somba K’e Civic Plaza. The Yellowknife Farmers Market brings together artisans, chefs, growers and bakers in a celebration of locally grown and produced food. It is a great event to bring the whole family to each week for something to eat and stock up on for the week ahead (we sell freshly baked bread there ;). yellowknifefarmersmarket.ca

Mine Rescue Competition

The Mine Rescue Competition is a celebration of safety in mining across the North. Several mine rescue teams compete to see who is the safest and most efficient at their job. The event is put on by the Workers’ Safety & Compensation Commission.

Northwords Writers Festival

A celebration of the literary arts in the north with several visiting authors from around Canada. Usually happens during the first weekend in June. northwordsnwt.com

Beer Barge Festival

Beer Barge Festival is an annual event put on by the Yellowknife Historical Society to celebrate the return of summer. Back in the day, this meant the return of the barges that restocked Yellowknife’s supplies, including its beer, which would have run out sometime over the winter. yellowknifehistory.com/events-0

Indigenous Peoples Day

National Indigenous Peoples Day happens annually on June 21. In Yellowknife several events take place. Usually, a Fish Fry happens at City Hall over lunch where fresh Great Slave Lake white fish and bannock are served. At the same time and throughout the day and evening activities take place on traditional Yellowknife Dene First Nations land near the Yellowknife River. ykdene.com

Festival on Franklin

The Festival on Franklin is an evening of fun on Franklin Avenue in the downtown core of Yellowknife. From 5 pm onward Franklin Avenue is closed down and vendors and activities of all types take to the streets to celebrate summer, the solstice, and Yellowknife downtown businesses.

Driving in June

Road conditions in June are not out of the ordinary. The snow and ice are all gone, replaced by gravel patches and potholes. Some might say those potholes are worse than driving on snow and ice, so don’t get swallowed up in one. Also, try not to spray the vehicle behind you with gravel should you be stopped on some.

Road Construction Season

What June is, is the start of the Road Construction Season. With only a short season to dig into the ground, it seems that road construction is abundant. Throughout the season different roads or lanes are shut down to allow for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. You can check the City of Yellowknife website for ongoing construction and road closures to plan your routes accordingly.

Have something to add? Leave us a comment or send us an email.

Yellowknife by the month is a series we are producing to give you a better idea of what Yellowknife has to offer throughout the year. To learn about what Yellowknife is like in other months follow our tag Yellowknife by the Month.

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About the author

Kyle Thomas

Kyle grew up in Yellowknife and is a local entrepreneur, bread maker, and Yellowknife-ophile 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.

7 Comments

  • Hello,

    I have enjoyed these monthly posts because I am planning to visit Yellowknife this coming August. In connection with that, though, I would greatly appreciate knowing in advance what August is like in Yellowknife. Getting a column written in August will be too late for me to plan, so I am wondering if it might be a good idea to write July, August, and maybe even September in advance of those months coming up, so those of us planning to visit can have some advance information for good planning purposes. Thanks

    • Yes, that is one of the hurdles I’m trying to overcome at the moment. I just need to sit down and write out those other months. I do know most people plan their trip at least 3 months in advance. This first year, getting all the posts out is my struggle. Working on it though. Thanks for the comment.

  • Hello. Looking forward to visiting Yellowknife this June/July. I am wondering what the road is like south of Yellowknife as I will be driving a motorhome. I hope to do some fishing, golfing & of course I will be looking for a campsite. Great website! Wish I had found it sooner!

    • For about 100km out of Yellowknife, the road is a little uneven to do constant permafrost heave. You have to take it slow, but many motorhomes and transport truck drive it daily. After that the roads are great. Fred Henne Territorial Campground is the campground within Yellowknife, but I would check sooner than later as it will book up quickly.

  • Thank you for all information. Such a useful site. Planning visiting Yellowknife June 20-22; now I have an idea what to expect during my visit. Again thank you 🙂

    • No problem. We hope you enjoy Yellowknife. Don’t forget to check out Aboriginal Day Fish Fry at City Hall and the Festival on Franklin if you’re still in town.

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