After overcoming a barrage of floods and wildfires, Wood Buffalo residents have returned the gorgeous community to its former splendour. Home to beautiful boreal forests, mighty rivers and pike-rich lakes, Fort McMurray and the Wood Buffalo region host a variety of things to do in the fall.
Bird’s eye view
1. For the best views of the area—including the city, nearby oilsands and beautiful natural landscapes—take an aerial tour with safety-first McMurray Aviation.
531 Snow Eagle Dr.
2. Take a swing at the Miskanaw Golf Club, where the scenery can be a distracting golf hazard. A kaleidoscope of fall colours and a trio of serene rivers surround the course. In addition to playing a few rounds, you’ll be in full view of some rare sights.
1 MacDonald Dr.
A look back in time
3. With close to 20 heritage buildings—including a schoolhouse, trapper’s cabin and trading post—Fort McMurray Heritage Village is a gem for history buffs.
1 Tolen Dr.
Wood Buffalo Tastes that deliver
4. Multiculturalism is celebrated with diverse global flavours. Two tasty local options are Spices Indian Restaurant and Yoshi Japanese Restaurant. What’s more, both eateries are located across the street from one another.
9616 & 9612 Franklin Ave.
While the city of Fort McMurray is the hub of the region, 10 other communities inhabit this massive 66,539-sq-km municipality. Anzac, Fort Chipewyan (Alberta’s oldest European settlement) and the Métis community of Conklin are three of the larger regions. Not surprisingly, fall colours are stunning throughout the area. In winter, people come from around the globe to view the dancing rainbows of the northern lights.
5. For a memorable day trip in nature, head to beautiful Gregoire Lake Provincial Park. The recreational area, located about half an hour south of the city, offers scenic hiking trails, excellent fishing, paddling, boating and camping. It’s an ideal combination of forests and lake waters. For RVers, there are plenty of amenities to make for a comfy stay.
6. Wildland provincial parks afford many bucket list adventures for experienced backcountry explorers. Athabasca Sand Dunes Ecological Reserve, about 200 km north of Fort McMurray, is Canada’s largest active sand surface with dunes towering up to 30 m.
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Rebuild and Recover
Mix 103.7 Morning Show co-host Steph Seidel is passionate about making people smile and creating engaging content. While the good vibes have been hard to come by in Wood Buffalo after 2016’s wildfires and catastrophic floods in 2020, her community keeps rolling on.
What makes Fort Mac so resilient?
Natural disasters tend to bring people together. And that’s most certainly been the case here. Folks here are just so generous, ready and willing to offer absolutely anything and everything they can to help. It’s made the people in this community much more friendly and understanding. Grace is given more freely.
Tell us about the recovery after the past decade’s disasters.
Insurance has been a huge learning curve for many. It’s taken years for lots of people to get back into their homes, and the recovery is still ongoing. I know someone who added earthquake insurance because, well, why not?
What do you love most about living here?
The people. The beautiful thing about this place is that most folks have moved here from across the country, and we’re all missing someone. It turns your friends into family. We help each other fill in those gaps.
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