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Fort Smith NWT Bison
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On Fort Smith Highway 5, just to the east of Wood Buffalo National Park. The Wood Buffalo National Park and Town of Fort Smith Visitor Centre is located inside the Federal Building, 146 McDougal Road. The visitor center is open daily from May long weekend (Victoria Day) to September long weekend (Labor Day) and closed on weekends the rest of the year. The wheelchair-accessible center features walk-in exhibits, park and town information, backcountry registration, videos and souvenir sales; Phone: (867) 872-7960 and ( 867) 872-3065; Email: pc.woodbuffaloinfo-infowoodbuffalo.pc@canada.ca; Website: www.fortsmith.ca
Fort Smith NWT Bison

 

A trip to Fort Smith is one steeped in history, beauty and adventure. Called Thebacha ("beside the rapids”) in the Chipewyan language, the town is one of the main gateways to Wood Buffalo National Park. Thriving with unique wildlife, it is North America’s largest and home to the biggest free roaming bison herd in the world, as well as the summer nesting grounds of the protected and majestic whooping crane. Fort Smith is situated next to the mighty Slave River where the rapids are world class and the Dark Sky Preserve is the largest on Earth. 

 

Four sets of impassable rapids necessitated a 27 km long portage by early travelers between Fort Fitzgerald and Fort Smith. The portage trails are now hiking paths along the banks of the Slave River. One of the most popular hikes begins at the boardwalk in the middle of town and leads to a close-up view of pelicans feeding at the rapids. The Slave River corridor is a playground for boaters, picnickers, kayakers and canoeists. There are many secluded beaches along the shores of the Slave which can be accessed by pathways. Knowledgeable interpreters to assist with information and guided hikes are also available; book your hike at the visitor center. 

 

The night skies over Fort Smith offer the most intense viewing of the Aurora Borealis, thanks to the town’s key proximity to the aurora oval and Wood Buffalo National Park’s designation as the planet's largest dark sky preserve. Visitors to Fort Smith can explore the night sky at the Roberta Bondar Northern Observatory, which includes a roll-off roof and reclined benches for optimal viewing. For more information visit the Thebacha & Wood Buffalo Astronomical Society at www.tawbas.ca

 

Within the town of Fort Smith a territorial park preserves the historic Roman Catholic Mission. The Wood Chopper’s Monument sits on the 60th parallel at the NWT and Alberta border. Step back in time at the Northern Life Museum to experience the history and ways of life of the traditional Dene and Metis peoples, missionaries, traders and pioneers through guided programs; for more information contact (867) 872-2859 or visit www.nlmcc.ca.  Other attractions in the Fort Smith Area include the Salt Plains, Salt River Day Use Area, Pine Lake Day Use Area and campsite, Kettle Point Campsite and Little Buffalo Falls Territorial Park.

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