Wood Buffalo National Park

Top choice in Northwest Territories

Established in 1922 to protect a large, dark and distinctly Northern subspecies of bison, and straddling the Alberta–NWT border, is Wood Buffalo National Park – one of the world's largest (44,000 sq km) and comprising a vast expanse of taiga forest, karstic formations and enormous freshwater systems. The park can be accessed by car either via Hwy 5 between Hay River and Fort Smith, or via a gravel road south of Fort Smith.

You're likely to spot plenty of bison off Hwy 5; drive carefully, as they tend to graze along roadsides and wander out directly onto the highway. Their interaction with wolves here was memorably filmed in the BBC's Frozen Planet and David Suzuki's The Nature of Things.

The park also protects the last wild migratory flock of whooping cranes on earth, its population currently rebounding from the brink of extinction. Along with millions of ducks and geese, they avail themselves of the wetlands including the Peace-Athabasca Delta – one of the world's largest freshwater deltas, a favorite with experienced kayakers. Moose, caribou, bears and lynx are also residents.

There are walking trails and campgrounds in the southern part of the park. In summer, bug spray and mosquito head net are essential to protect against countless mosquitoes and horseflies.

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