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Wood Buffalo National Park

Wood Buffalo National Park

Wood Buffalo National Park is Canada’s largest national park. It was established in 1922 to protect the world's largest herd of free-roaming wood bison, currently estimated at more than 5,000. It is the only known nesting site of whooping cranes.

Though massive in scale, there are several easy-to-moderate activities that allow Fort Smith residents and visitors to access Wood Buffalo National Park.



Hikers, cyclists, and skiers can make good use of the Park’s trail system, which includes trails at the Salt Plains, Salt River Day Use Area, Pine Lake, and Lane Lake. The trails are accessible all year round, though snowfall determines by which means they can be used.

Snowmobiles and off-road vehicles are not allowed in the park.

Snakes in the Park

Every spring (April and May), visitors flock to the Salt River Day Use Area to check out the “Snake Pits”, the northern-most colony of red-sided garter snakes in North America. During this time, the snakes make a brief above-ground appearance for mating prior to migrating to their summer feeding grounds. At this time, the males form “mating balls” around the females, resulting in piles of dozens of small garter snakes all over the ground. Children especially seem to delight in the slithering piles of snakes.

Pine Lake 

Pine Lake is an aquamarine lake in the middle of the boreal forest, about 60 km (a 45-minute drive) from Fort Smith. Created by a series of three sink holes, the lake is a get-away destination for residents of Fort Smith.

The Pine Lake campground is used by campers in both RVs and tents. The campground is open from the May long weekend to the September Labour Day weekend.

The Pine Lake day-use area features a cook shelter, picnic tables, fire pits, firewood, outhouses, playground, change rooms, and a beautiful sandy beach for swimming. The day-use area is open from May to the first snowfall (usually in October).

The Kettle Point Group Camp is a lakeside facility with a large log shelter, tenting area, beach, fire circle, firewood, picnic tables, outhouses, and a playground. It is open from the May long weekend to the September Labour Day weekend. Reservations are required, with a minimum group of eight people. Please call (867) 872-7960 to register.

Pine Lake Picnic

On the third Sunday in July, the Pine Lake Picnic attracts visitors to the Pine Lake day-use area for a day of family-friendly outdoor activities, and barbecued hotdogs and corn-on-the-cob.

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