Why Alberta's Northern parks are a premium outdoor-lovers' choice for 2017
Updated: Jan 12
Alberta is world renowned for it's mountain parks. And rightly so, they are spectacular and scenic. And this summer, they will be CROWDED. Two reasons: 1) the federal government has decided to waive fees to Canada's National Parks in 2017 for the country's 150th anniversary, and 2) our devalued Canadian dollar has already stimulated unprecedented visits by Americans and others.
Heading for real, natural wilderness experiences in Alberta's north means you will leave annoying traffic and crowds in the south, and embrace traffic free, low stress road tripping to the north.
Think of what you will do with that extra 1-2 hours of solstice daylength compared to the 49th parallel. Not to mention having the chance to experience the many interesting rural stopping places on the way. parks canada photo
Head west through Edmonton on the Yellowhead (HWY 16) and then set your compass north onto Highway 43. This four-lane is the gateway to the Peace River Country and the northern reaches of the province.
If you set your sights on Wood Buffalo National Park, it will be about 13 hrs total driving from Edmonton. You can break the trip up by spending about 3-4
days exploring the Peace River Region, with its amazing agricultural and wilderness venues at your fingertips. Use the Mile Zero of the MacKenzie Highway in Grimshaw as the centre of your Peace Country explorations.
This is a great area to explore the many rural museums of the area, and the Peace River Valley, The scenic Shaftesbury Trail at Peace River, Dunvegan Provincial Park, and Notikewin Provincial Park are a few of the wonderful access points to enjoy the natural, secluded, beauty of this majestic river,
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Then venture north into the boreal forest. It's hard to describe how massive it really is without experiencing it. There are a few fertile agricultural oases on the way, High Level, Lacrete, and Fort Vermilion where you will be amazed at the modern, productive farms only a few kilometers from the 60th parallel. Then cross that 60th and get a taste of Canada's largest territory, the NorthWest Territories, before heading back to the border into your final destination, Fort Smith. Must see's along the way near Hay River are the Alexandra Falls and Louise Falls.
Your final destination, Wood Buffalo National Park is an epic wilderness, the largest National Park in Canada. Their August Land and Sky Tour lets you take in all of the high points of the park, including guided hikes in the Salt Plains, a flight tour, and their Dark Sky Festival . Wood Buffalo Park is an amazing place to experience the protected Wood Bison, multiple bird species, and fascinating indigenous Dene culture.