Parks & Nature
Wood Buffalo National Park
Established in 1922, Wood Buffalo National Park is Canada's largest National Park and straddles the border between Alberta and the Northwest Territories. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a bird nesting area in 1983.
Covering almost 45,000 square kilometres, Wood Buffalo National Park is one of Canada’s ultimate outdoor recreation destinations. WBNP offers remote hiking and camping opportunities in the muskeg and boreal forest.
Visitors to the park can also view bison herds in their natural habitat, explore massive salt plains and the deltas of the Athabasca and Peace Rivers, or gaze at the mesmerizing stars and aurora borealis in the world's largest Dark Sky Preserve.
Dark Sky Festival
The Thebacha & Wood Buffalo Astronomical Society invites you to explore the wonders of the universe at their annual, multi-day dark sky festival in Wood Buffalo National Park. The event is typically held around mid-to-late August. Learn more.
At 45,000 square kilometres, Wood Buffalo National Park is the largest in the Parks Canada system. The park is prime habitat for some 3,000 wood bison, and is also home to the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserve. WBNP is also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a bird nesting area for whooping cranes and other species.
As one of the more remote parks in the Parks Canada system, the only year-round road access to Wood Buffalo National Park is via Fort Smith, NWT, where the main Visitors Centre is located.
Once the winter weather sets in, the Fort Chipewyan Winter Road links Fort McMurray with WBNP. It's about 500 kilometres from Fort McMurray to Fort Smith via Fort Chipewyan along the winter road. Before attempting the trip, be sure you're well prepared for winter travel through extreme conditions and wilderness.
To break up the trip, consider making the trip in two stages—starting with the 270 kilometre drive from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan, followed by 228 kilometres to Fort Smith the next day.
Websites & Contact Info
Wood Buffalo National Park website
Fort Smith Main Park Office: 867-872-7960, 24hr Park hotline: 867-872-7962
Fort Chipewyan Park Office: 780-697-3882