Northern Alberta is a land of great contrast and wide expanses of untamed wilderness. From the jagged Rocky Mountains in the south of this region to the gentler ranges of the north, and from the prairies in the east to the vibrant boreal forest and ancient Canadian Shield rock, this is a land teeming with outdoor adventure. With a sparse population outside of the major centres of Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray, this is the perfect place to go to find some peace and solitude.
To help you navigate the vast expanses of Northern Alberta, the Backroad Mapbooks team has created the most comprehensive and detailed recreation guide available for the region. The fourth edition Northern Alberta Backroad Mapbook contains extensive updates and expansions from the previous edition, including labelled fish species, clearly marked Crown, leased and private land, new provincial parks and grazing reserves, fish stocking charts, multi-use trail charts and more. From the rich fishing waters of Lac La Biche to the meadows and grasslands of Wood Buffalo National Park and beyond, this is your ultimate guide to exploring Northern Alberta.
To give you an idea of all the adventures this Mapbook can lead you on, here are a few examples:
Northern Alberta is full of incredible sights that are easily accessed along the area’s well-developed road network. From conservation areas to museums, historic sites and unique geographic features, there is something special to see around every corner, and the 4th Edition Northern Alberta Backroad Mapbook shows you close to 60 of the best places to stop while exploring the region. Here are a couple of our favourites:
Athabasca Sand Dunes
Stretched out along Lake Athabasca and the Athabasca River is the world’s largest area of active sand dunes north of the 58th parallel. While there is no direct road access to the dunes, those that make it here will marvel at the 30 metre (100 ft) tall dunes, which stretch for over 100 km (60 mi).
Athabasca Sand Dunes. Photo Credit: Hidehiro Otake
La Crete Mennonite Heritage Village
Featuring 30 buildings spread over 4 hectares (10 ac), including a flour mill, school and saw mill, this open air museum provides an up close and personal look into the agricultural lifestyle of early Mennonite settlers in Northern Alberta.
Home to over half of Alberta’s fish-bearing lakes, Northern Alberta is a great place to go fishing. And while some of the most productive lakes can be difficult to access, often requiring a float plane to reach, those that put in the extra effort can enjoy the fishing adventure of a lifetime. Your Northern Alberta Backroad Mapbook lists close to 370 of the region’s best fishing lakes, rivers and streams. Here are a couple of our favourites:
East Dollar Lake
Although this lake is small, it produces some big rainbows, with some fish pulled out of there weighing 4.5 kg (10 lb). In fact, the pothole lake was named by Outdoor Canada as one of the country’s top trout fishing lakes, which is some pretty impressive acclaim for such a small lake.
This big lake is famous for its big lake trout, with the occasional fish reaching up to 12.5 kg (30 lb) in weight. Add in plentiful northern pike, walleye, perch and whitefish, and you have yourself one fine fishing destination
Ice fishing on Peerless Lake.
With habitat ranging from towering mountains to forested uplands and sweeping prairies, there are opportunities to hunt all sorts of game in Northern Alberta. From big mammals like moose, deer and bear to waterfowl and game birds, your options are numerous, and the 4th Edition Northern Alberta provides you with detailed description of 42 of the region’s Wildlife Management Units. Here are a couple of our favourites to hunt in:
WMUs 518 & 519 – Thickwood Hills & Algar Lake
With the Athabasca River flowing through the center of these management units, surrounded by vast expanses of mixed forest and wetland, this is one of the best big game hunting areas in Northern Alberta. Deer, moose, black bear and even cougar can be found here in good numbers
WMU 534 Caribou Mountains
One of the biggest WMUs in the province, this one is home to thousands of lakes, providing an abundance of fresh drinking water for big game like caribou, moose, deer and black bear, while game birds like ptarmigan provide even more options for hunters.
Woodland caribou in the Caribou Mountains. Image via albertawilderness.ca
Northern Alberta is full of big lakes and big rivers, making it a great destination for extended wilderness canoe trips. Your 4th Edition Northern Alberta Backroad Mapbook contains close to 90 detailed descriptions of paddling routes throughout the region, complete with information on put-ins, take-outs, campsites, difficulty and more. Here are a couple of our favourite places to dip a paddle in Northern Alberta:.
Lakeland Provincial Park
Home to dozens of lakes, many of them separated by just a narrow strip of land, Lakeland Provincial Park claims to be home to Alberta’s “only backcountry canoe circuit.” But, with so many lakes to explore, it will be difficult to cover them all with one route. No matter how you choose to explore the park, incredible paddling awaits..
Known as one of Alberta’s great canoe tripping rivers, the mighty Peace flows east from the Northern Rockies all the way to the Athabasca Peace Delta. This is mostly an easy, slow moving river, with the exception of the impressive Vermilion Chutes.
Paddling the Peace River. Photo via hikebiketravel.com
Many of Northern Alberta’s most spectacular natural areas are protected within provincial, national or regional parks. These parks often offer developed campsites and maintained road access, while others are remote and have no facilities, best suited for serious outdoor explorers. Regardless of which type of park you prefer to visit, you will find the perfect destination among the close to 140 parks listings featured in our latest Northern Alberta Backroad Mapbook. Here are a couple of our favourites:
Kakwa Wildland Provincial Park
Capturing the last of the Rocky Mountains before they cross over into British Columbia, this park has limited road access, so chances are you will get to enjoy its beautiful landscape all by yourself. Dozens of informal trails and backcountry campsites make this a real playground for resilient outdoor explorers.
Kakwa Falls. Photo Credit: Trevor McCurdy
Wood Buffalo National Park
This is the region’s only national park, but it is also Canada’s largest, protecting an area larger than the country of Switzerland. Much of the park consist of roadless wilderness, and those that put the effort into exploring it can expect to find an abundance of wildlife, including bison and countless bird species, along with some of the most scenic backcountry campsites you could imagine.
While there are fewer developed trails in Northern Alberta than the rest of the province, there are still plenty of incredible routes to explore on foot, mountain bike, horseback, cross-country ski or snowshoe. Your Northern Alberta Backroad Mapbook contains detailed listings for over 100 multi-use trails complete with distance, elevation gain, trail access and more. Here are a couple of our favourite trails to tackle in the region:
Also known as the Peace River Road, this trail leads from Lesser Slave Lake to the Peace River area along a traditional First Nations route. The trail is currently being converted into a part of the Trans Canada Trail, with 55 km (34 mi) of signed and maintained trail available for use by hikers and cyclists.
Muskoseepi Park Trails
This urban park bisects the city of Grande Prairie from north to south along the Bear River Valley. There are 18 km (11 mi) of trails in the park, many of which are paved, offering some easy and peaceful walking or cycling through the heart of this growing city.
Footbridge in Muskoseepi Park. Photo by Ted McGrath
With endless views of the Rockies, hidden lakes, abandoned railways, muddy forest trails and much more, Northern Alberta is an ATVer’s playground. In your Northern Alberta Backroad Mapbook you will find over 60 detailed descriptions for the best places to ATV in the region, complete with information on staging areas, trail lengths, elevation gains and more.
Richardson River Sand Dunes OHV Area
A popular destination for Fort McMurray residents, reaching the sand dunes entails a 100 km (62 mi) off-road ride along the Fort Chipewyan Winter Road, which means your adventure starts before you even get to this awesome ATV play area.
Richardson River Sand Dunes. Photo via teryxhq.com
Tucker Lake OHV Area
Located just west of Cold Lake, this area is full of old roads and cutlines that allow for virtually unlimited riding opportunities. A couple of the more popular routes include the 20 km (12 mi) ride to Borque Lake, as well as nearby Marguerite Lake. .
With a long winter season and a generous snowpack, snowmobiling in Northern Alberta is one of the region’s main recreational pursuits. In your 4th Edition Northern Alberta Backroad Mapbook you will find over 30 listings for the best places to snowmobile, complete with information on staging areas, trail lengths, elevation gains and more. Here are a couple of our favourite sledding destinations in the area:
Iosegun Lake Snowmobile Trails
Featuring over 80 km (50 mi) of marked and brushed trails, this trail system leads you through some very scenic terrain, with one highlight being the Eagle Lookout. It is also possible to link up with the Golden Triangle Route from this system.
This is a unique snowmobiling adventure, offering you the chance to ride along a frozen waterway that once linked the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers, with cutlines branching off into the surrounding boreal forest.
Racing on the Snye Waterway. Photo via Olivia Condon / Fort McMurray Todayteryxhq.com
Northern Alberta is known for its abundant wildlife population, and there are few designated viewing areas since animals are so numerous. Often, you can spot a bear or an elk right on the side of the road. Still, there are a few destinations that are especially productive when it comes to wildlife viewing. Here are a few of our favourites:
Hay-Zama Lakes Wildland Park
Home to one of the few populations of wood bison outside of Wood Buffalo National Park, this park is also home to woodland caribou and several other mammal species. In the fall, the park is home to a massive migration of birds, with over 1,000,000 birds belonging to over 100 species passing through the area.
Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park
Home to some large stands of old-growth forest, this park supports a wide variety of bird species, including 20 species of wood warblers alone. Birders can also look for American white pelican, boreal owl, double-crested cormorant, Swainson’s thrush, white-winged crossbill and many others.
American White Pelican in Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park. Photo via playoutsideguide.com
There is a lot to do in Northern Alberta in the winter, but cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are a couple of the most popular pursuits. There are many trails to choose from, both maintained and rustic, and they will lead you through some incredible winter scenery. In the 4th Edition Northern Alberta Backroad Mapbook you will find over 60 detailed listings for the best places to get outdoors in the winter.
Dunvegan Nordic Ski Club
Based out of Fairview, this ski club maintains an extensive trail network. Close to town, the Cummings Lake area is a favourite for cross-country skiers, while venturing to the Sand Lakes Natural Area will lead you to even more groomed trails.
Wapiti Nordic Centre
With over 35 km (22 mi) of both classic and skate trails set in the dunes overlooking the Wapiti River, plus trails lit for night skiing and a biathlon range, there is something for everyone at the Wapiti Nordic Centre.
Biathlon Range at the Wapiti Nordic Centre. Photo via sjdphotography.ca
Of course, this is just a small sample of all the adventures we have packed into the 4th Edition Northern Alberta Backroad Mapbook. To fully appreciate all the recreation opportunities found in the region, pick one up for yourself by ordering online or using our store locator to find a Backroad Mapbooks retailer near you.