Wood Buffalo

Wood Buffalo is the largest national park in Canada (44,807 km^2) - slightly larger than Switzerland. The park was established in 1922 to protect the world's largest herd of an estimated 5,000 free roaming wood bison.


The only (drivable) access to the park is from Fort Smith which is 270 km east of the (last gas) Hay River. The entire way looks like:


Fort Smith was founded on the Slave River where there are four sets of impassable rapids (Cassette Rapids, Pelican Rapids, Mountain Rapids, and Rapids of the Drowned). The portage around the 4 rapids (traditionally used by local aboriginal people for centuries) is the last on the way to the western Arctic which made Fort Smith an important trading hub.

The Oblate Catholic Mission had a large presence - 151 acres in the center of Fort Smith with various building as well as this grotto church:


Pelican Rapids are so named as the Slave River here is a northern nesting spot for pelicans - who knew?


Within the park is the remains of an ancient inland sea which evaporated 270 million years ago, leaving a huge (370 km^2) salt flat littered with boreal forest.