Fort Smith is located on NWT Highway 5, 162 miles southeast of Hay River, on the Slave River.
Visitor Information: Town of Fort Smith Visitor Centre is open in the summer, phone 867-872-3065. Wood Buffalo National Park visitor centre, located at 149 McDougal Rd., is open year-round, 9 a.m. to noon and 1–5 p.m., weekdays, closed holidays, phone 867-872-7960.
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.
There are 2 hotels/motels, multiple bed and breakfasts, 2 grocery stores, post office, 3 gift shops, several restaurants and a take-out place, a bar, convenience store, gas stations and several repair service locations.
- 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.