Fort Smith is situated at the "end of the road" on the Wood Buffalo Highway Route (Hwy #5). The small community rests on the banks of the Slave River next to the Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada. The community calls itself, ""The Garden Capital of the North" and the region is best known as Wood Buffalo Country.
Fort Smith is the gateway to the Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada. The 44,800 square kilometre park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is Canada's largest National Park and it is home to free roaming herds of wood buffalo and the last natural staging area for migrating whooping cranes.
The local First Nation people, the Slavey Dene First Nation, named Fort Smith "Thebacha" which means "Beside the Rapids". It was named because the small village is situated on the Slave River just south of the "Rapids of the Drowned".
Slave River was a major transportation route in the Northwest Territory prior to air and road. The river was a main route connecting northern Alberta with the N.W.T. and the Beaufort Sea.
Fort Smith is the main business centre on the Slave River in Wood Buffalo Country. Some of the services located in Fort Smith important to travelers include accommodations, campground, tours guides, museums, gas station, grocery store, restaurant, coffee shops, bank, internet, post office, gift stores and air travel. The Wood Buffalo National Park's offices are located in Fort Smith.
Some of the summer activities enjoyed while visiting in Fort Smith include hiking, birdwatching, golfing, kayaking, camping, flightseeing, backpacking, wilderness camping and canoeing. During the winter months, after the temperatures drop and snow falls, the frozen rivers become snowmobile and cross country ski routes.
During the winter months there is a 3 month window when an ice road at the end of Hwy #5 is created connecting Fort Smith with Fort Chipewyan and Fort McMurray, Alberta.