Churchill offers an incredible array of options for indoor and outdoor activities all year long. Depending on the season, one can supplement stellar wildlife viewing with year-round site specific activity options that only Churchill can provide with ease of accessibility. The main attraction in Churchill is the “King of the Arctic”, the mighty and majestic polar bear. A wide array of wildlife viewing exists a majority of the year with peak seasons being summer and fall.
– Polar Bear Viewing
Churchill is predominately known for polar bears and their migration through the area as they wait for the Hudson Bay to freeze over in November. Traveling to Churchill and arranging the opportunity to see polar bears can be a difficult task. However, once aboard a custom Polar Rover taking in the expanse of the tundra along the Hudson Bay coast, words cannot express the thrills in store.
– Northern Lights Viewing
Churchill is one of the best and most accessible places to view northern lights or aurora borealis due to its location beneath the Van Allen belt. this band of highly charged particles is held in place around Earth by our planet’s magnetic field. Most of these charged particles are a result of solar winds. When these charged particles come in contact with atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere, electrons in these atoms increase levels of energy. When these electrons return to the lower energy state photons or light is produced. the end product of these reactions is amazing colored aurora borealis in the sky above Churchill.
Churchill has various options for comfortable northern lights viewing including Aurora Domes, Natural Habitat’s Aurora Pod, the Tundra Lodge and the Churchill Northern Studies center. Additionally, dogsled camps such as Wapusk Adventures and Churchill River Mushing offer rustic settings in the boreal forest for groups to enjoy the incredible spectacle.
When charged particles from the sun strike atoms in Earth’s atmosphere, they cause electrons in the atoms to move to a higher-energy state. When the electrons drop back to a lower energy state, they release a photon: light. This process creates the beautiful aurora, or northern lights.
Churchill has become a dogsled mecca of the north. Multiple mushers raise and train their dogs outside the town limits of town. No resident is allowed to keep more than two dogs in town to diminish the chances of “packing up” as husky breeds tend to do. The dog camps on the outskirts range from basic housing and bedding to full service dogsled excursion outfits. If you have the urge to get on a sled, there certainly are plenty of options.
Curling is one of the many activities based out of the Churchill town complex. The two – sheet rink provides a cold weather refuge for town’s people as well as travelers wanting to taste the truly Canadian sport. A local expert can be hired to teach the rules and techniques needed to have great fun. Local “Bonspiels” or tournaments bring Churchillian’s together for a weekend from time to time. Throwing rocks or sweeping a broom has never been this fun.
A full size skating and hockey rink is housed inside the town complex. Public skating hours are offered as well as local hockey games and tournaments for your viewing enjoyment.
A scaled down bowling alley in the complex allows for limited hours and private parties. A great way to spend a cold winter night or day…knocking down some pins and beers.
There’s no question that the highlight and draw of the summer in Churchill is beluga whale watching out on the Churchill River and Hudson Bay. Birding and other wildlife viewing also can reward even the most ardent enthusiasts.
– Snorkel with the belugas
Getting in the water and getting a feel for the underwater world that beluga whales live in is a truly amazing experience. You do brave the cold water with all the best dry suit and accessories allowing for the maximum time in the water. Sea North Tours in Churchill runs these excursions and Natural Habitat Adventures offers extensions of this nature on all Churchill Arctic Summer trips.
– Kayaking With The Belugas
Another amazing experience in the summer is kayaking with the beluga whales on the Churchill River and even out into the Hudson Bay. This can be phenomenal if the belugas are between mass feedings on capelin. Hearts tend to accelerate somewhat when approached by a pod or even just a few belugas. Their curious nature moves them to nudge the plastic shells just enough to provide a thrill of a lifetime!
Bird observation in Churchill is some of the best in the world. Over 200 species of birds migrate through the region on an annual basis. Spring and summer allow ample opportunities for checking off some of those “life –list” birds. The Ross’s Gull is the most prized bird to sight in Churchill and more often than not observed along the Churchill River by the port.
– Touring Fort Prince of Wales
During the Churchill Arctic Summer season a tour Fort Prince of Wales is an incredible journey back in time and will inspire the trapper and pioneer in you. Parcs Canada gives informative guided interpretations of the history and more recent archeological research conducted within the fort. The stark landscape seemingly usurps the stone sentinel at the mouth of the Churchill River. Once up close and on foot, the fort inexplicably comes alive in full 18th century splendor. Well worth the short boat ride across the Churchill River.
– Polar Rover Coastal BBQ
Though most polar rovers have long since been stashed away in the garage since last polar bear season, a few gain early -release from dormancy to provide excursions through the Churchill Wildlife Management Area to the coast for a northern barbecue and chance to hike along the rocky coastline. Wildflowers and berries cover the tundra with panoramic views of the Hudson Bay to the north. The exposed Precambrian shield forms ridges and precipices along the shore providing exhilarating views of the bay and sky.
Polar bears can be sighted at times along the coastal peninsulas or nestled in the rocks rolling down to the Hudson Bay. Arctic foxes and red foxes scamper along looking for lemmings. Arctic hare in summer fur scamper through the tundra. Caribou and moose wander the vast land sometimes in groups or small herds. And, of course, the summer bird life is fantastic with over 200 species calling Churchill home in this fruitful season.