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Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada

How to Get There

By Road:

Wood Buffalo National Park straddles the Northwest Territories - Alberta border. Park headquarters are in Fort Smith, NT. All-weather road access is available year-round via the MacKenzie Highway. The MacKenzie Highway links to Highway 5 near Hay River, NT, providing access to the park and Fort Smith. Like many highways in the NT, Highway 5 is mostly hard-packed gravel. There is no all-weather road access to Fort Chipewyan.

Map of Wood Buffalo National Park
Locations of visitor facilities in Wood Buffalo National Park
© Parks Canada / PNWB / Christina Kaeser

Depending on conditions, a winter road may be open for approximately three months during the winter. This road connects Fort Smith with Fort Chipewyan and Fort McMurray in Alberta. Because of the large distances and potentially dangerous conditions, special precautions are needed for safe travel on the winter road. Contact the Visitor Reception Centre in Fort Smith or Fort Chipewyan for updated information on winter road conditions within the park.

By Air:

Edmonton is the hub for commercial air travel to the north. Commercial flights are available to both Fort Smith and Fort Chipewyan from Edmonton. Air charters are available between Fort Smith and Fort Chipewyan. Contact a travel agent for details.

By Water:

For experienced wilderness travellers, water access by boat or canoe is possible between Fort McMurray, Fort Chipewyan and Fort Fitzgerald. Motorboat access is allowed along the major river corridors: Athabasca River, Rivière des Rochers, Quatre Fourches River, Peace River and Slave River. Please refer to the Guide to Waterways In and Around Wood Buffalo National Park for further information about the river corridors. Park Use permits are required for any overnight stays in the backcountry.

Regional setting of Wood Buffalo National Park
Regional setting of Wood Buffalo National Park
© Parks Canada / PNWB / Christina Kaeser

Road Distances from Fort Smith

Yellowknife, NWT
748 km
Hay River, NWT
270 km
AB / NWT border
381 km
High Level, AB
572 km
Edmonton, AB
1310 km
Fort Chipewyan, AB *
228 km
Fort McMurray, AB *
508 km
* : Winter road only