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Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada

Winter Road

The winter road distance between Fort Smith and Fort Chipewyan is 228 km. Snowmobile travel is not allowed. Several ice bridge crossings are required and hazardous winter driving conditions may be encountered. Sections of the road are narrow and rough with sharp curves. Driving time is approximately four hours under good conditions. The park cannot guarantee regular road patrols, so travellers must be responsible for their own safety. Depending on conditions, the winter road is open from approximately mid-December to mid-March.

For information on winter road conditions in Wood Buffalo National Park, contact the Visitor Reception Centre in Fort Chipewyan or Fort Smith, or phone the Park Hotline at (867) 872-7962.

The winter road between Fort Chipewyan and Fort McMurray is operated by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Contact the Municipality at (780) 697-3600 for information on this portion of the winter road.

Winter Road Safety

Ice crossing on winter road
Ice crossing on winter road
© Parks Canada / WBNP G-1-f / N. Humenuk-Bourke
  • Ensure your vehicle is in good working order and equipped with the following:
    • good snow tires
    • spare tire and jack
    • extra gas (24-hour supply recommended)
    • extra oil
    • gasline antifreeze
    • tow rope
    • complete tool kit
    • winch, shovel
    • road flares.
  • Be prepared for cold weather survival in the event of a breakdown.
    • Carry warm winter clothes and boots
    • extra socks
    • candles
    • axe
    • flashlight with spare batteries
    • tea pail or camping stove
    • hot liquids
    • chocolate bars and extra food
    • first aid kit
    • extra blankets
    • sleeping bag
    • fire starter and matches.
  • Don't travel in stormy conditions or during periods of extreme cold.
  • Notify a friend or relative of your departure, planned route and expected arrival time.
  • Observe posted speed limits and pay attention to signs.
  • Be on the alert for wildlife.
  • If you do end up stranded, USE COMMON SENSE! Stay with your vehicle, build a fire and do whatever is needed to stay warm until help arrives.