If you've ever dreamed of a wild wilderness adventure in the remote Canadian north, Wood Buffalo National Park promises the trip of a lifetime. With more land mass than one third of the world's countries, Wood Buffalo is one of the biggest parks on earth. The park has also recently been designated as the largest dark sky preserve in the world.
Spanning a huge chunk of Alberta's far north, the top of the park spills into the Northwest Territories. Hop a plane in Edmonton or Fort McMurray and head up to Fort Smith or Fort Chipewyan, the gateways to Wood Buffalo. Seasoned paddlers thirsting for a unique adventure can hit the Athabasca River in Fort McMurray and canoe the 298 km (185 mi) to Fort Chipewyan.
This is a vast and wild land of northern boreal plains, strangely compelling karstland riddled with sinkholes, fissures and underground streams, an untamed river delta and – surprise – a salt desert. Watch for the herds of wood bison that roam the plains. Listen to the howling of the elusive timber wolf. The endless splendour of the north will have you wishing there were more hours in a day. Oh wait - in summer the sun is shining at midnight.
Sinkholes. Karst. Bison. Desert. Here's your insider Wood Buffalo National Park checklist!
Take a hike
Wood Buffalo is a hiker's fantasy come true. Follow the
Salt River trails
along a saline creek to a bizarre moonscape of sinkholes and strangely-shaped rocks scattered across vast plains of salt. Watch for the extremely rare whooping crane. Hit the
accessible only by plane or canoe and camp in the meadows with the bison and wolves.
Grab a canoe and glide across a lake made of combined sinkholes for a relaxing day trip. For a backcountry adventure, pack up and go for days. Wood Buffalo's three main rivers are wide and gentle, so you can fully appreciate the wildlife and changing landscapes as you paddle through the northern plains.
Are those giant sugar-coated chocolates? No, it's a herd of bison resting in the snow, an iconic winter sight in Wood Buffalo. Blaze your own trail on snowshoes or cross-country skis, or skate on a frozen lake. Insiders say this is the best place to see the northern lights.