When to Go to Northern Alberta
Northern Alberta is a year-round tourist destination. Famous for excellent fishing conditions, the summer fishing season typically picks up in late May and lasts until late September, But there is no need to abandon the majestic lakes once they freeze over; rent a cabin, dress warmly and switch to ice fishing. Winter is also prime time to view the Northern Lights, and can be seen on most clear nights from October to march.
Getting to Northern Alberta
There are daily connecting flights to Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie from Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa. Greyhound Canada also offers service to Grande Prairie, just be prepared for numerous stopovers along the way. If you have some extra time, plan a road trip.
Getting Around Northern Alberta
While Greyhound buses will take you to several parts of this large region, the best way to discover Alberta’s north is by renting a vehicle. Car, RV and camper van rentals are popular and easily accessible from both Calgary and Edmonton.
What to See and Do in Northern Alberta
Renowned for its remote, pristine lakes awash with northern pike, trout, walleye and whitefish, northern Alberta’s fly-in lodges are among the world’s best fresh-water fishing sites. Lodges cater to a range of fishing experiences, offering both guided trips and gear for solo outings.
Island Lake Lodge in the subarctic region northwest of Fort McMurray is accessible only by air. It’s a shallow lake with several islands that provide protection on windy days, allowing fishers to count on having an exciting trip. The lodge is open from May 24 until September 30.
Lesser Slave Lake is iconic of northern Alberta, one of the most visited parts of the north. It’s also home to the Golden Walleye Classic: one of the world’s most renowned walleye fishing tournaments. Adventure Alberta provides full or half-day guided summer trips at Lesser Slave from Victoria Day weekend in May until mid-September, and while guided tours are not offered in the winter Adventure Alberta will provide those willing to brave the cold with heated cabins and fishing gear.
Beyond fishing, there is so much more to Alberta’s north. Birdwatching, spotting wildlife and simply marvelling at the scenic beauty all characterize a trip up north. Athabasca County, an hour and a half northeast of Edmonton, considered the gateway to northern Alberta, is a quaint district filled with scenic lakes, beaches and camping grounds.
Explore the beauty of this region on one of its numerous hiking trails. The winter traveller can take in the sights while cross-country skiing or snowshoeing across Athabasca County’s Muskey Creek Trails, which offers 10 kilometres of well-groomed road.
Bordering the Northwest Territories is Wood Buffalo National Park. It boasts the world’s largest free-roaming bison population. Fort McMurray is the largest community in the region. Canoe Fort McMurray’s historic trade routes, explore sand dunes and hike the many trails in summer; manoeuvre your way around the trail system on snowmobiles in the winter.