Canada’s largest national park
Experience the wonders of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Canada’s largest national park and now the World’s Largest Dark Sky Preserve. Wood Buffalo National Park was designated a Canadian Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). The Canadian Dark Sky Preserve (DSP) program is a major conservation initiative of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) with the objective of increasing public awareness of the beauty of the night sky, the ecological relevance for nocturnal wildlife and the health benefits for mankind by conserving dark skies.
Wood Buffalo National Park is accessible from the gateway communities of Fort Chipewyan, Fort Smith and Hay River. The park’s visitor information centres are located in Fort Smithand Fort Chipewyan.
To get to Wood Buffalo National Park by car, drive the Mackenzie Highway north to Hay River, NWT, and then take Highway 5 from Hay River to the Parks Canada visitor centre in Fort Smith.
Wood Buffalo National Park was created in 1922 to protect northern Canada’s last free roaming herds of bison. It’s now home to the largest self regulating wood bison herd in the world and the nesting habitat for the endangered whooping crane.
Location & topography
Wood Buffalo National Park straddles Northern Alberta and the southern part of the Northwest Territories. It’s bigger than Switzerland and features boreal forests, salt flats, underground streams, sinkholes and saline streams. Enjoy accessible experiences and backcountry treks.
Largest inland freshwater delta & major flyway
The Peace- Athabasca Delta, the largest inland freshwater delta in North America, lies in the heart of the park. The continent’s four major migration flyways intersect here. There are more than 227 types of birds in the park. In 1982, the whooping crane nesting area and the delta were named RAMSAR sites for being “wetlands of international significance.” The park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site the following year.
Hiking & camping
Hiking trails range from easy walks to moderate hikes. They include a 500-metre switchback trail from the Salt Plains Viewpoint to the Salt Plains and the 750-metre Karstland Loop past sinkholes. For a longer hike, try the 9-kilometre South Loop that meanders along a saline creek to Grosbeak Lake. The 7.5-kilometre North Loop climbs gently to the top of an escarpment and includes sinkholes, a scenic view of Salt Pan Lake and geological formations. Pine Lake campground has rustic campsites in the middle of the boreal forest.