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 it is larger than Switzerland and abundant with wildlife, wilderness and great places to explore.
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 and Relax at Pine Lake: The perfect get away for both locals and tourists alike. There are sandy shores, blue waters, cozy cabins and great opportunities to swim, hike, paddle, stargaze and relax. Some bison might even join you for a swim!
3. Attend Summer Festivals: Bring the kids for some family fun at the Pine Lake Picnic in July, with old fashioned fun from canoe races to corn husking competitions. You can't miss the Thebacha & Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Festival in August! You might get to rub shoulders around the campfire with some of Canada's astronauts, and definitely 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 and landscape that create this enticing ecosystem.
5 Wildlife Watching: You are sure to see bison as you travel along the road into Fort Smith or heading towards Pine Lake. In spring, red-sided garter snakes put on a spectacular mating display. You can also see black bears, moose, fox, wolf, lynx and many bird species including sandhill cranes, ravens and the most coveted wildlife sighting, though rarly spotted, is the 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.