You can’t get to Fort Smith without passing through Canada’s paramount northern national park and wildlife preserve, Wood Buffalo National Park. With 44,741 square kilometres of boreal wilderness and abundant wildlife, you’ll want to explore more than what’s visible from Highway 5 or the winter road from Fort McMurray.
Whether you’re camping or looking for a day trip, you’ll see sights you’ve never seen before.
Here are our top five favourite activities to do in Wood Buffalo National Park:
1. Explore the Salt Plains: Created by ancient seabeds the salt plains make for fantastic photos, as do the animal tracks weaving among salt-tolerant plants. You might be lucky enough to spot the endangered whooping cranes who have nests nearby.
2. Paddle in Pine Lake: The perfect get away for both locals and tourists alike. The lake is a combination of sinkholes that have become a striking part of the park’s aesthetic and the unique karst topography throughout the region. There are sandy shores, blue waters, cozy cabins and great opportunities to swim, hike, paddle, stargaze and relax.
3. Attend Summer Festivals: Bring the kids for some family fun at the Pine Lake Picnic in July, a gathering for some old fashioned fun from canoe races to corn husking competitions. We also love the Thebacha & Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Festival in August! Where we get to rub shoulders around the campfire with some of Canada's astronauts, and the best minds in science and astronomy. Not to mention great food, rocket launching and the glow-stick party!
4. Hike to Grosbeak Lake: Discover the lunar landscape at Grosbeak. Wander amongst the salt-eroded boulders left by glaciers long ago in this fascinating salt-encrusted ecosystem.
5 Wildlife Watching: You are sure to see bison as you travel along the road into Fort Smith or the roads heading into the park towards Pine Lake. In the spring the northern most red-sided garter snakes put on a fascinating mating display of large masses of snakes. You might also see black bears, moose, wolf, lynx and many bird species including sandhill cranes and the elusive and endangered Whooping Crane.
Wood Buffalo National Park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983 because:
- It hosts one of the largest free-roaming and self-regulating bison herds in the world.
- It’s the last remaining natural nesting area for the endangered whooping crane
- It has unique salt plains created by an ancient seabed.
- It has some of the best examples of gypsum karst landforms in North America.
- It contains over 44,000 square kilometres of undisturbed boreal wilderness, an area the size of Switzerland.
For more information about Wood Buffalo National Park:
Website: Wood Buffalo National Park
Address: 149 MacDougal Road.
Check out all our summer programs in the document attached below!