Discover Wood Buffalo National Park

Welcome to the gateway of natural wonder, where sprawling landscapes and diverse ecosystems converge: Wood Buffalo National Park. Stretching across the border of Alberta and the Northwest Territories in Canada, this vast sanctuary stands as the country’s largest national reserve, boasting a staggering 44,807 square kilometers of pristine wilderness. Established in 1922 to protect the last remaining wood bison herds, it now serves as a beacon for conservation and exploration.

You’ll encounter a tapestry of habitats within its borders, from boreal forests to expansive grasslands, wetlands, and winding rivers. The park’s crown jewel, the Peace-Athabasca Delta, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a vital stopover for migratory birds, and a sanctuary for countless species, including the majestic whooping crane.

Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer seeking remote wilderness or a curious soul yearning to connect with nature, Wood Buffalo National Park promises an unforgettable journey through the untamed beauty of Canada’s northern frontier.


Top 3 Facts About Wood Buffalo National Park


Unparalleled Size

Covering an impressive area of 44,807 square kilometers, Wood Buffalo National Park is not only Canada’s largest national park but also one of the largest in the world, offering endless opportunities for exploration and adventure.


Important Wetland Habitat

The Peace-Athabasca Delta, located within the park, is the largest inland freshwater delta in the world. This vital wetland habitat is a crucial breeding ground for waterfowl and supports a complex ecosystem of plants, fish, and other wildlife.


Ancient Bison Herds

The park is home to the planet’s largest free-roaming herd of wood bison. These majestic animals, descendants of the ice age giants, roam freely within the park’s boundaries, embodying the spirit of untamed wilderness.

Camping and transportation in Wood Buffalo National Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Wood Buffalo National Park

Due to its remote location, getting to Wood Buffalo National Park requires some planning. Here’s a guide:

  • By Air: Fort McMurray International Airport (YMM) in Alberta, Canada is the closest major airport. You can rent a car and drive to the park, about five hours north.
  • By Road: Wood Buffalo National Park is accessible by road, primarily via Highway 63 from Fort McMurray, Alberta, or Highway 5 from Hay River, Northwest Territories. Both routes offer scenic drives through boreal forests and northern landscapes.
  • Ferry Crossings: If you’re entering the park from the north, near Fort Smith, you’ll need to take a ferry across the Slave River. The Fort Smith – Fitzgerald ferry operates seasonally, typically from mid-May to mid-October. Plan your trip accordingly to avoid delays.
  • Guided Tours: Consider joining a guided tour or expedition, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area or prefer a more structured experience. Local tour operators offer guided trips into the park, providing insights into its natural and cultural heritage.

Places to Stay Near Wood Buffalo National Park

While there are limited accommodations within Wood Buffalo National Park itself, several options are available nearby:

  • Fort Smith, Northwest Territories: The town of Fort Smith, located near the northern entrance of the park, offers a range of accommodations, including hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts. This is a convenient option if you’re entering the park from the north.
  • Fort Chipewyan, Alberta: Situated near the park’s southern entrance, Fort Chipewyan provides lodging options such as hotels and lodges. It’s a good base for exploring the southern reaches of Wood Buffalo National Park.
  • Campgrounds: Wood Buffalo National Park has several campgrounds within its boundaries, offering both frontcountry and backcountry camping experiences. Facilities vary, but most campgrounds provide basic amenities such as pit toilets, picnic tables, and fire pits. Registration and fees may be required, so check the park’s website for details.
  • Backcountry Camping: For a more immersive experience, consider backcountry camping within the park. Permits are required for backcountry camping, and regulations regarding food storage and wildlife encounters must be followed diligently.
  • Wilderness Lodges and Outfitters: Some wilderness lodges and outfitters operate near the park, offering guided excursions, accommodations, and services for visitors looking to explore the remote wilderness surrounding Wood Buffalo National Park.
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Best Time to Go to Wood Buffalo National Park



Summer brings long daylight hours and warmer temperatures, making it an ideal time for outdoor adventures in Wood Buffalo National Park. Visitors can enjoy various activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The park’s rivers and lakes provide boating, canoeing, and kayaking opportunities, while the extensive trail network offers options for both strolls and challenging hikes. Summer also offers prime conditions for spotting wood bison, moose, and other iconic wildlife species.



Winter transforms Wood Buffalo National Park into a pristine winter wonderland, offering unique opportunities for outdoor recreation. Visitors can explore the park’s snow-covered landscapes on snowshoes or cross-country skis, immersing themselves in the tranquility of the winter wilderness. Ice fishing on frozen lakes, wildlife tracking, and viewing the northern lights are popular winter activities. While temperatures can be cold, the park’s undeniable beauty provides a magical backdrop for winter adventures.



Spring is a vibrant time in Wood Buffalo National Park as the landscape awakens from winter. During this season, visitors can witness the park’s wildlife coming to life, with migratory birds returning to nest in the wetlands and forests. It’s an excellent time for birdwatching, with opportunities to spot rare species like the whooping crane. Hiking trails begin to thaw, offering picturesque walks amid budding trees and blooming wildflowers.

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Fall paints Wood Buffalo National Park in a tapestry of vibrant colors as the leaves change, creating stunning vistas throughout the park. This season is perfect for photography enthusiasts seeking to capture the park’s natural beauty in its autumnal splendor. Wildlife enthusiasts can witness the spectacle of the annual bison rut and the migration of various bird species. Cooler temperatures make for comfortable hiking and camping experiences, and the park’s serene atmosphere offers a peaceful retreat amidst nature’s autumnal palette.

Must-See Attractions

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Salt Plains

Witness the unique phenomenon of the Salt Plains, where salt springs bubble to the surface, creating otherworldly landscapes. Visitors can explore the salt flats and witness the surreal beauty of crystalline formations.

Peace-Athabasca Delta

Discover the expansive wetlands of the Peace-Athabasca Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and crucial habitat for migratory birds. Take a boat tour or hike the delta to witness diverse bird species, including the majestic whooping crane.

Dark Sky Preserve

Designated as the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserve, the park offers unparalleled stargazing opportunities. The sky comes alive on clear nights with countless stars and celestial wonders.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Wood Buffalo National Park

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Research the park’s facilities, activities, and regulations before your visit. Consider weather conditions, road closures, and seasonal variations in wildlife activity.

Pack Appropriately

Pack Appropriately

Pack essential supplies, including food, water, clothing layers, insect repellent, sunscreen, and a first aid kit. Be prepared for changing weather conditions, especially in remote areas of the park.

Respect Wildlife

Respect Wildlife

Observe wildlife from a safe distance and never approach or feed wild animals. Keep a respectful distance to avoid disturbing their natural behavior and to ensure your safety.

Stay Informed

Check Road Conditions

Be aware of road conditions, especially if traveling in remote areas of the park. Gravel roads may become impassable during inclement weather, so check for updates and road closures before setting out.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Wood Buffalo National Park

As you wander through the vast expanses of Wood Buffalo National Park, spotting bison is likely on your to-do list. The sweeping grasslands near the Peace-Athabasca Delta provide excellent opportunities to see these iconic creatures in their natural habitat. Remember to grab your binoculars for a better view!

When it comes to vast wilderness, Canada doesn’t skimp on size. Wood Buffalo National Park is a titan among national parks – it’s the largest in Canada. At over 44,807 square kilometers, it dwarfs other sizable sanctuaries like Jasper and Banff in Alberta.

The park is accessible by road, with a few routes you can take depending on where you’re coming from. If it’s your first time, make sure to check your vehicle is ready for the journey, pack essentials like water and snacks, and always stay informed about the weather and road conditions.

Wood Buffalo National Park isn’t just massive; it’s also a vital refuge for incredible biodiversity. It’s the breeding ground for the endangered whooping crane and hosts the world’s largest free-roaming herd of wood bison. This park plays a critical role in the conservation of unique ecosystems and endangered species.

Located on the border of Alberta and the Northwest Territories, Wood Buffalo National Park boasts a unique mix of landscapes, from boreal forests to salt plains. This diversity contributes to a complex and dynamic ecosystem that supports various wildlife and plant species.

From hiking on the Salt Plains to stargazing in the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserve, the park offers activities for every taste. Don’t miss the opportunity to paddle through the serene waterways of the Peace-Athabasca Delta or to witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of the Northern Lights. These experiences help create lasting memories of Canada’s natural beauty.

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