Auroras of the Northwest Territories Photo Tour

With Rod Barbee and John Barclay

September 7-14 2018
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
$4734 single occupancy.
$4199 double occupancy.
($1000 deposit with balance due 60-days prior to tour)

Limit 10  (Sold out. Contact me to get on the waiting list)
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Without a doubt, the most incredible display in nature has to be the auroras. They are jaw-droppingly amazing. Twisty green ribbons crawl across the sky, occasionally bursting open like a hand reaching down from space with hints of pink and red, moving as if under a will of its own. The Milky Way, Big Dipper, and the Pleides nearly pop out of the sky adding a beautiful backdrop to the aurora experience. Your camera will actually capture more than your naked eye can see, the longer exposures allowing the light of the aurora to build up and reveal colors you didn't know were there. And the resulting pictures are ones you'll treasure and want to share.  You'll find that seeing and photographing auroras will be one of most exhilarating experiences of your life.

And Yellowknife in Canada's Northwest Territories is one of the best places to see and photograph them.

Yellowknife sits right beneath the aurora oval and is known as a place that has one of the world's highest percentage of aurora sightings. Its geographic location also means a high percentage of clear nights. In Yellowknife, you can see the aurora an average of approximately 240 nights a year.

Along the Cameron Falls trail, Hidden Lake park.

Along the Cameron Falls trail, Hidden Lake park.

The best aurora viewing seasons in Yellowknife are from mid-August to the end of September and mid-November to mid-April. There are at least two advantages to visiting in September. One is that the temperature is comfortable, and the cool nights for aurora photography are tolerable. The other advantage is fall color. We'll see aspens, birch, and possibly Larch (Tamarack) as well as Willow, Mountain Ash, and wild rose. This can make for a color palette ranging from bright yellow, to orange, and red.

Even if this tour is mainly about photographing the auroras, we'll find more to see and do. There are parks with spectacular fall color. There are a couple of nice waterfalls to photograph as well as lake shores and nature trails. If we're lucky we'll encounter some wildlife too. Old Town Yellowknife also has its charms (the painted dumpsters are very cool) and there are visitor and cultural centers you're sure to find fascinating. Just take a look at the slide show at the top of the page for a tease of what you can expect.

It's hard to describe a typical day since we may be up photographing auroras past 2 a.m. Most likely we'll have a late breakfast or lunch and then a trip out to photograph fall color. After returning to our hotel we'll take a break. After dinner we'll head out to our aurora site. Some nights we might just grab some boxed dinners and snacks and head out for a sunset location where we'll also wait for the aurora. These can be long nights but we'll be close to our van for those needing to warm up.

We've got a variety of locations from which to photograph the northern lights. Some of these are on lakesides so you'll be able to photograph reflections of the auroras.

And John and Rod will be there to help you capture those magical auroras. Even before the tour begins we'll be sending you information and tips on aurora and night photography so that you'll be as prepared as possible. we'll be making recommendations for clothing, headlamps, and other gadgets as well as passing on some practical suggestions and a helpful reading list. All this so that when you're in the field and it's dark out and the auroras are dancing and you've been awestruck, you'll be ready to capture the magic.

Our itinerary will include Prosperous Lake, Prelude Lake Park, Cameron River and Cameron Falls, fall color along the Ingraham Trail highway, the Great Slave Lake area, Old Town Yellowknife, and more.

As this is a photo tour rather than a workshop, we may or may not have any formal classroom teaching. This doesn't mean we won't try to get together to share images and answer questions. It will be a matter of available time and meeting space.

the easy Cameron Falls hike ;-)Arrival:

Plan to arrive some time on September 7. You're room will be waiting for you after check-in time on the 7th.

Breakfast on the 8th will be on your own and we'll officially start the tour by gathering midday on the 8th for introductions and orientation. You should have enough time that morning to go explore the town and we'll give you some suggestions of what to see and directions to a grocery store that's within walking distance.

Hiking and exertion:
While the most tiring part of this trip will most likely be staying up late to photograph auroras, we do have a few short hikes planned. The longest is the hike to Cameron Falls. This isn't a strenuous hike for anyone in average shape, but it does have some elevation gain and it does traverse some open rock areas that, while not too steep, may challenge those with balance or leg strength issues. There are stairs in some areas, making the hike a bit easier. It's 1.2 km each way (about .75 miles).

The Dancing Moose CafeWhat's included:

  • Lodging at the Chateau Nova for the nights of September 7-13, 2018.
  • All meals from lunch on the first full day (Sept. 8) to breakfast on the last morning (Sept. 14). Many of our meals will be in some of the finest local dining establishments.
  • Snacks and water during our daily and nightly outings.
  • Transportation in our comfy rental van(s) during the tour.
  • Instruction and assistance from two professional photo instructors.
  • Ample teasing.

What's not included:
alcoholic beverages, tips for any guides we may hire, airfare, whining.


$4734 single occupancy. To choose this option, add the Single Supplement in the Cart.
$4199 double occupancy. If you already have a roommate, choose this option. We can try finding you a roommate but can make no guarantees. If a roommate is not available, the single supplement cost will be added to your invoice.

Please read the Policies page before sending any money.
We also highly recommend travel insurance.

Participants Page

Click here to go to the participant's page, which is just filled to the brim with more good information.


I found this journey to be one of the most amazing and wonderful I have ever gone on--and I've been on plenty!  Thank you, Rod, for making the Aurora show its face so many times!
--Kathy L.

I just wanted to say THANK YOU !! to each of you for the wonderful experience we had in Yellowknife. You did an awesome job with the logistics, eating and more eating, and trying to provide us with the opportunities to experience and capture the Auroras. This adventure was all I was hoping it was going to be. I like several of my Aurora shots, but I enjoyed the experience even more.
--Brent W.

The tour was fabulous, and we had a wonderful time... Thanks for being so generous with your time and knowledge.... You were both great on this trip, and I look forward to seeing you again.
--Linda H.


Many of your questions may already be answered on my FAQ page.

Workshops and Tours in planning

  • Silver Falls in the autumn, October 2018

Trip insurance

We understand that sometimes folks need to make cancellations due to illness, family, or business matters. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide refunds or credit to future workshops for cancellations less than 60-days out from a trip (75-days for international trips). We therefore highly recommend trip insurance.

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