Province/Territory: Alberta

Fort McMurray lights up adventure

  • 4 rivers reach their confluence
  • 7 stone bison statues
  • 130 kilometres of trails and pathways

It’s a dark, cold winter night near Fort McMurray, Alberta. You've come prepared for both. What you didn’t prepare for are the chills running across your body when the night sky lights up. Everything above is alive with the dance of the northern lights. Green, white and red ribbons ripple across the sky. With the childlike wonder you cheer and point to the natural splendor of Aurora Borealis. Fort McMurray hosts this winter wonder along with daytime sports to thrill. Snowmobile on endless trails or silently glide on cross country skis. Find out how deep lake ice is when you drill a hole to catch fish. Or wait for summer and experience a whole different land of lush forests to hike, deep wide rivers to paddle, and long days to cast that fishing line from a boat, dock or endless shoreline. Then stop. For just a second. It’s true – the rare Wood Bison do roam up there and you have a chance to see them. In Fort McMurray, every season brings a new experience and new wonders.

Nature & Wildlife

  • Standing on a frozen lake to stare at the sky in the middle of the night means you are waiting for the rippling curtains of the northern lights to begin. Try finding them on your own or go with a guiding company.
  • Wood Bison were reintroduced to the region to roam over reclaimed lands. Stop at the vantage point to find them in their lush habitat.
  • Hiking is as easy as stepping away from your car. Listen to the birds, spot wildlife like deer, elk and moose on the hundreds of available trails.
  • The rivers that flow through Fort McMurray brought hunters and trappers to settle the remote region over 100 years ago. You can follow in their “paddle strokes” for hours, days or weeks.

On the water

  • Learn to paddle like the early explorers on tours from a few hours to a week with Nature’s Window Adventur.
  • For a one-of-a-kind fishing experience go fishing for giant Walleye or Northern  Pike. Hire a guide or stay at a nearby fly-in fishing lodge.
  • Don’t let the cold air of winter stop you from catching the big one! Learn to fish through the ice with a guide. Most of the rivers and lakes are great for perch and whitefish.
  • Need some adrenaline? Maneuver a canoe through the white waters of the Cascade rapids or hang on tight for a jet ski or jet boat adventure.

Outdoor adventure

  • Play a round or two of golf under the midnight sun in June. Fort McMurray is home to three courses open for play from late spring to early fall.
  • Pitch a tent at Gregoire Lake Provincial Park, for relaxing next to the lake or going fishing.
  • Snowdrifts and fresh powder make for snowmobiling playgrounds in winter. Guiding companies are available to take you on a tour through the trees on the extensive trail system.

Road trips & Train travel

  • Take a scenic drive  out of town to see the enormous Wood Bison Gateway sculpture.  Seven bison carved from siltstone stand 4 metres tall and weigh 35 tonnes each.
  • Then drive by the viewing centre to see 300 live bison roam through the boreal forest.

Weather

  • Warm summer months extend from mid-June through September, with average daily July temperatures of 17.0 degrees Celsius. Expect up to 18 hours of daylight much of the summer. 
  • Winter, from November until April, brings cold winter storms and short days with only 6 hours of daylight. January is the coldest month with daytime averages of -18 C and as low as -24 C. Expect an average of 155 cm of snow to fall during the season. Winter clothing is a must.
  • Spring lasts from April until June bringing mild temperatures. May’s  average is 10.4 C.
  • Fall, from September to early November, brings a brilliant display of autumn colours mild, cool weather. In October, Fort McMurray averages 2.8 C and can dip below freezing.
  • Discover local weather information.  Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Normals Website.
Quick facts

Area: 59.89 sq-km

Population: 72,944

Languages: English predominant

Historically a fur trading post

When to go
  • The Aurora Borealis can occur any time, but with the long days of summer, sightings are minimal. The best time to go is December through March.
  • Skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and ice fishing are best after a layer of snow has settled. Best times are between December and April.
  • Canoeing the rivers, hiking the trails and fishing the lakes is best during the summer. You’ll be amazed at what you can pack into days with 18 hours of light!
Getting Here

Fort McMurray is a scenic four-hour drive north of Alberta’s capital city  Edmonton and can be accessed by air and road. Both major Canadian airlines fly daily to Fort McMurray with international flights from Denver, Colorado.
Fort McMurray Airport (YMM)
Red Arrow Bus Service
Greyhound Bus Service
Major driving routes

Getting around