Wood Buffalo National Park is a magnificent wildlife reserve that despite its immense size stands somewhat in the shadow of more famous parks further south in Alberta. However, it boasts some animal species that are not easily found elsewhere, notably its large herd of Wood Buffalo, one of the rarest and most threatened of Bison species.
The northern end of Alberta, less mountainous than southern areas, was extensively explored and hunted during the Colonial era. In the late 19th century the region became crown land in an effort to protect the dwindling animal populations. In 1922 the area was designated as a national park, and an aggressive effort was begun to save the local Bison population from extinction. Efforts have met with mixed success, as a herd of over five thousand now roams the park, though problems are ongoing. Wood Buffalo was named a world heritage site in 1983.
Wildlife abounds in this huge park, starting with the large herds of its namesake Buffalo. There are also Moose and Deer, as well as Black Bear, Brown Bear, Wolf and Lynx in large number. The park is also famous for its resident population of Beaver. In 2007, the world’s largest beaver dam ever recorded was discovered here.
Wood Buffalo National Park is immense. At nearly 45,000 square km it is by far the largest reserve in Canada and one of the largest anywhere on Earth. Located at the extreme northern end of Alberta, it is much less accessible than places like Banff. The closest major city, Edmonton, is more than 300 miles to the south. The park is open year round, with access weather permitting. The cost of admission is based on planned activities and camping within the park. Web: www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/nt/woodbuffalo (official website).