Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan: approx. 280 km (174 mi)
Driving the winter road to Alberta’s oldest established community (and gateway to Wood Buffalo National Park) is a very cool trip – literally – because the road is made entirely of ice; it’s the only land route that connects remote northern communities in the winter months. As soon as it’s cold enough, trucks apply water over the muskeg until the surface ice is about six inches thick. The road is then staked to guide drivers on their way north. From mid-December to mid-March, the ice road winds through stately boreal forest, over frozen rivers and marshes, and across the icy majesty of the Peace-Athabasca Delta. On ice-fishing derby weekends, your road companions will be dogsleds and ATVs.
- Get directions for the winter road to Fort Chipewyan from Fort McMurray Tourism and head north in your four-wheel drive. Take time to watch for moose, lynx and bobcats along the way.
- Watch for a section of the road near Fort McMurray nicknamed “The Rollercoaster” – you’ll know when you’ve found it!
- In Fort Chipewyan, the Bicentennial Museum offers a fascinating look back at First Nations people through to the arrival of the voyageur fur traders.
Option: Return to Fort McMurray or continue on across the mighty Peace River and through Wood Buffalo National Park to Fort Smith on the Northwest Territories border, 228 km (142 mi).