Wood Buffalo National Park

Located on Alberta's northern border, Wood Buffalo National Park is Canada's largest national park (44,807-square-kilometres), an important refuge for a variety of endangered species, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the most visually spectacular national parks on Earth—not to mention one of the largest!

Why Wood Buffalo National Park?

Wood Buffalo National Park holds a legendary reputation among Canada's remote wilderness parks as it contains one of the last remaining natural nesting areas for the endangered whooping crane, the Peace-Athabasca Delta (one of the largest inland freshwater deltas in the world) and vast undisturbed expanses of boreal wilderness. This combination of natural and geographical features makes Wood Buffalo National Park a must see destination among Canadian and international wilderness travellers.

The View

The terrain inside Wood Buffalo National Park is varied and rugged, making exploration by foot a challenge. With this in mind Team Outpost has decided to explore the park via Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP). Outpost will be the first to explore the channels and waterways of Wood Buffalo National Park via SUP and we believe that our chosen route will allow our team to be the first to document some of the fantastic views hidden within the park.

The Team

Wood Buffalo National Park Team

MEC Gear Spotlight

MEC Fulcrum PFD

General Paddling PFD

Staring down the barrel of raging class III rapids, as we did on our SUPing journey in Wood Buffalo National Park, was as much a frightening experience as it was exhilarating. The prospect of getting spun, flipped and kicked off a SUP came as no surprise. Being able to face those rapids was more than a matter of courage but also knowing we had the right equipment. For something as serious as Class III rapids that means a personal flotation device (PFD) you can trust. Light, easily adjustable and highly effective the MEC Fulcrum PFD is exactly what we needed to ride the waves of Wood Buffalo National Park.

Pictured: Fulcrum PFD
From the MEC PFD Collection

Slogg Deluxe 70L

Proper Paddling Pack

Exploring the park on SUP, as we did, required a great deal of planning, especially when considering what bags to use in order to guarantee that our gear would stay dry even when the river and weather forced us to get wet. Without a doubt the MEC Slogg Delux 70L gave us all the confidence we needed to wade the sometimes turbulent waters of the Park. Built with a proper pack frame, the Slogg Deluxe made portaging easy and comfortable. Rugged tarpolin fabric, thoughtfully placed tie points and radio frequency welded seams made it indispensable.

Pictured: Slogg Deluxe 70L
From the MEC Dry Pack Collection

MEC Kokatat Dry Suit

Keeping Dry While Getting Wet

Being on the water, whether it’s a river, lake or ocean, is as much an intimidating experience as it is a rewarding one. The prospect of getting wet and cold while enjoying the challenge of breaking whitecaps in a storm or surfing rapids along the Slave River or simply drifting with an ambling current is very high, and staying dry, especially on an overnight trip, is a top priority. That’s why we use and recommend Kokatat Dry Suits for any overnight and/or cold-water paddling trip. Made with waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex fabric, reinforced elbow and knee patches and latex gaskets, a Kokatat Dry Suit is ready to handle anything you throw at it—even repeated headfirst nosedives into Class III rapids along the Slave River of Wood Buffalo National Park! 

Pictured: Kokotat Dry Suit
From the MEC Dry Suit Collection

Gear List

Our travels through Wood Buffalo National Park will require us to SUP and camp to fully explore the waterways and channels of the park. As always, since quality, durability and ease of use is a primary consideration for this project we will be using MEC as our supplier of choice.

Apparel

Midlayer

Jacket

Helmets

Wetsuit

PFDs

Swimsuit

Footwear

Equipment

Tents

Sleepingbags

Cookwear

Packs

SUP

Paddles

Dry Bags

Health

Aid

Survival

Water

Sun

Sanitation

Emergency

Maintenance

Nutrition

CLIF Bars

Meals

Filters

Beverages

 

 

 

Wood Buffalo National Park Expedition Map

Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada

Dispatches From Wood Buffalo

Where is Wood Buffalo National Park? Where is Wood Buffalo?

In northern Canada there is a stretch of land larger than Switzerland with wealth every bit as rich as that found in the vaults of the famously neutral country. But instead of gold, jewels and fine art, Canada's equivalent is a vault of precious endangered wildlife.

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Arrival at Fort McMurray Arrival at Fort McMurray

The Wood Buffalo team arrived in Fort McMurray from Oregon and Ottawa, and Squamish and Toronto, each of us hauling our share of the gear required for this long-anticipated trip and eager to put it to use. 

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Bryce Canyon National Park The River's Call

Cutting across Northern Alberta and eventually emptying into Great Slave Lake, these rivers have, for reasons that remain unclear, long captured my attention.

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Fort Chipewyan Outlining Our Journey

Flying into Fort Chipewyan gave us our first glimpse at the amazingly abundant waters that make up the Athabascan delta and only magnified the already brimming anticipation with which we have been filled since preparation started for this trip.

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Into Lake Athabasca Into Lake Athabasca

The wind out of the west was producing some chop and getting used to the boards with the heavy loads took a lot of concentration. But before long we turned the corner and headed up the Rivière des Rochers, with a brilliant blue sky ahead and the wind at our backs.

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Captivated by Wood Buffalo Captivated by Wood Buffalo

The wind blows strong, creating white caps that test our balance, on what is to be our floating home for the next seven days on the water.

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The Ethereal Beauty of Wood Buffalo Ethereal Wood Buffalo

When we are quiet we are very much a part of the place, rather than visitors, and the stillness puts all of us at various times in reflective moods. The fresh air, the breeze washing over us, and the sun that just keeps on shining, all seem to be contributing to a dreamy, ethereal feeling. 

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Paddling Revillon Coupé Paddling Revillon Coupé

The Athabasca Delta consists of a myriad of rivers, ponds, lakes, creeks, tributaries and distributaries, all of which create an incredible spectacle of waterways that intersect and bifurcate the land into a navigational puzzle of epic proportions.

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Outpost Versus The River Outpost VS The River

We turned a corner and saw the river widening in front of us, revealing a view some two or three kilometres down river. In the distance we could see the white crests of waves that must have been three feet or more.

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Buffalo Or Bison? Buffalo Or Bison?

Wood Buffalo National Park is world renowned for its vast free-roaming herds of bison, so why isn't it called Wood Bison National Park? What's the difference between a buffalo and a bison anyway?

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SUPing Down River SUPing Down River

At one point I sat down on my board to take a drink and give my legs a rest, and the board did a series of three slow 360 degree pirouettes, lazily spinning while I took in the surrounding beauty and filled my lungs with the cool clean air of Canada's north. 

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The Paddling Pioneers The Paddling Pioneers

It was a truly magical evening, and with the encouragement of my paddling brothers, I decided to put on my dry suit, step onto my board and cast off into the night; I couldn’t miss the chance to paddle the Slave River under a full moon.

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A Recipe From The Riverside Riverside Recipe

This is a recipe that comes straight from the heart, inspired by a trip to Turkey that I took with my girlfriend Sara in 2013. Since that trip, she and I have both made this a staple meal that we share together and with others whenever we are on an outdoor adventure.

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