Fort Smith

Population: 2,400

Fort Smith is located on NWT Highway 5, 162 miles southeast of Hay River, on the Slave River.

Visitor Information: Town of Fort Smith website. The Fort Smith Visitor Reception Centre is lcoated at the federal building on McDougal Road. It is open daily in summer, weekdays in winter, and features exhibits, video presentation and information on Wood Buffalo National Park.

Fort Smith began as a trading post along the 1,600-mile water passage between Fort McMurray and the Arctic Ocean. The Hudson’s Bay Co. established a permanent post here in 1874, and a Roman Catholic mission followed in 1876. Today, Fort Smith is headquarters for adjacent Wood Buffalo National Park, the largest national park in North America.

Visitor services include a hotel/motel, bed and breakfasts, 2 grocery stores, post office, gift shops,  restaurants and a take-out place, convenience store and gas stations. Camping at Queen Elizabeth Park just outside town, and at Pine Lake in Wood Buffalo National Park.


  • Wood Buffalo National Park is a major attraction, offering a variety of activities, from nature walks to wilderness canoe trips. Stop by the park’s visitor reception centre.
  • The Northern Life Museum features a comprehensive view of the area’s Native culture and life of the white settlers since the mid-19th century.
  • Fort Smith has the northernmost colony of nesting white pelicans. Watch them feeding on the rapids.