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Winter Experience

Winter

Winter in Fort McMurray has so many incredible opportunities for your winter adventure. Snowshoe or cross-country ski on the vast trail system throughout our city and region. Fort McMurray is a great destination for snowmobiling with its amazing scenery and great terrain - sledders, this is your paradise.

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."  ~ Edith Sitwell

Our region is known for its incredible ice fishing and we have several locations to choose from. Enjoy one of our many outdoor ice rinks throughout the city go for a skate or start up a hockey game. Experience the incredible phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis, bundle up and prepare to be amazed.

Trapline ​Experience

Learn about traditional aboriginal ways and take a trapline experience with Wood Buffalo Wilderness Tours.

Northern Lights

Mesmerizing, dynamic displays of light appear in the nighttime northern skies in Fort McMurray. Bundle up, bring a warm drink and watch the sky dance. Go out on your own or book a guide.

Winter Road Adventure

Have you ever driven on a winter road? Why not try it this winter? Drive the winter road from Fort McMurray to Fort Chipewyan, Alberta’s oldest settlement.

Lace up the Skates

A number of indoor and outdoor rinks offer endless hours of ice skating, hockey and family fun. Organized participation in figure skating, hockey, ringette, curling and skiing is available through various community groups and organizations.

Snowmobiler’s Paradise

Northern Alberta is a snowmobiler’s paradise with hundreds of kilometers of trails, cut lines and navigable waterways to explore. Enjoy the groomed and signed trail systems in place courtesy of the McMurray Sno Drifters club, a group of local enthusiasts who have successfully partnered with the Municipality, Sustainable Resources and industry to designate, develop and maintain snowmobile trails throughout the region. Staging areas are available in Waterways, Abasand Heights and north of Fort McMurray to allow users to park their vehicles and off load their units. Be sure to purchase a trail pass from any member of the local club and be aware of the bylaws and rules governing snowmobiling use within the region.

Vista Ridge All Seasons Park

Vista Ridge All Seasons Park is a ski, ride and slide facility and is fun for the whole family. Just minutes from Fort McMurray, Vista Ridge offers downhill skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts the opportunities to sharpen their skills on one of Alberta’s largest non-mountain ski areas. Set in the picturesque Clearwater River Valley, Vista Ridge is a great experience for skiers, snowboarders and tube park enthusiasts of all levels. A 500 seat day lodge with cafeteria, conference facility, lounge and rental/retail shop provides the perfect backdrop to sip a warm beverage and watch the action unfold. The Snow School offers both private and group lessons.

Hit the Trails

The urban park trail system that winds its way through the city provides a perfect backdrop for cross-country skiing. The Ptarmigan Nordic Ski Club welcomes members from novice to competitive and offers ski instruction to both adult and child members. A map of the Birchwood Trail system is produced by the ski club who are the premier group stewarding the development and maintenance of the trails in partnership with the Regional Municipality. Other trails include the Central Reserve, Little Fisheries Creek, MacDonald Island, Ross Haven Loop and Timberline Drive Loop.

Snowshoeing, skiing & snowmobiling

Winter in Fort McMurray has so many incredible opportunities for your winter adventure. Snowshoe or cross-country ski on the vast trail system throughout our city and region. Fort McMurray is a great destination for snowmobiling with its amazing scenery and great terrain -sledders, this is your paradise.

Ice fishing

Our region is known for its incredible ice fishing and we have several locations to choose from. Enjoy one of our many outdoor ice rinks throughout the city go for a skate or start up a hockey game. Experience the incredible phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis, bundle up and prepare to be amazed      

WinterPLAY    

From the moment the first fireworks explode into the crystal-clear night sky to mark the beginning of the festivities, Fort McMurray’s annual WinterPLAY Carnival is a whirlwind of fun in the snow, featuring the very best the winter season has to offer. Cuddle up to a crackling bonfire at Haxton Park, or stroll through the ethereal beauty of the ice garden in Doug McCrae park, featuring ice sculptures from internationally-acclaimed ice artists and an intricately-carved ice castle for children to explore.

The WinterPLAY Carnival features events and activities in six communities across the region, from the northern hamlet of Fort Chipewyan to the more southern community of Conklin. The carnival is more than just fun in the snow – it brings the entire region of Wood Buffalo together, making the frosty season just a little bit warmer!         

There are plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy, including a day of skiing, snowboarding and tubing at Vista Ridge, Fort McMurray’s picturesque ski hill. Take the family for a skate on the community skating pond, or walk the children’s midway and enjoy rides, games, face painters and roving performers. A sweet treat is the perfect end to a winter’s day with a stop at the French Canadian sugar shack for hand-rolled maple taffy candy.

Shootout on the Snye    

For the more adventurous at heart, MacDonald Island Park features the ever-popular Polar Bear swim. The Shootout on the Snye, a community hockey game, has been a Fort McMurray favourite for decades as fans young and old gather to watch the puck drop on the downtown Snye waterway.        

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy the carnival and stay warm at the same time, there are plenty of indoor activities. The WinterPLAY festival of the performing arts features three days of musical and dramatic performances for those looking for a little culture, held at Keyano College’s artsy downtown campus. Check out “Hot Acts & Cool Plays,” the acclaimed one-act play festival, or find your inner star at the Music Star Search. The artisan’s marketplace is a great place to pick up a unique piece of Fort McMurray, handmade by one of the region’s many talented craftspeople and artists.

Historical dog sled rides

Experience a piece of the region’s rich cultural history during the Family Dog Sled Rides, which tracks an old mail route through the wilderness between Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan.

Winter Listings

For a complete listing of winter recreation, clubs and organizations please visit WOODBUFFALO.AB.CA and view the Community Guide to Recreation, Arts & Culture or visit Fort McMurray Tourism for more information.

Skating

Borealis Parks Centre
Haxton Centre
T: 780.799.5807

C.A. Knight Recreation Complex
MacDonald Island
T: 780.791.0070

Frank LaCroix Arena
155 Beaconwood Road
T: 780.743.7974

Casman Center
110 Eymundson Road
T: 780.799.5856

Snowmobiling

Aurora Tours Guided
Snowmobile Tours
T: 780.334.2292

Sno Drifters
Snowmobiling Association
T: 780.743.0088
SNO-DRIFTERS.ORG

Skiing

Vista Ridge All Seasons Park
Skiing, snowboarding,
tubing, lodge, cafeteria,
rentals
T: 780.743.8651

Outdoor Skating

Abasand
Beside Father Beauregard
School on Athabasca Avenue

Waterways
Bulyea Avenue
Thickwood
Signal Road across
the street from the
medical centre

Timberlea
Brett Drive beside
Timberlea School
Timberlea
Syncrude Timberlea
Athletic Park

The Regional Municipality of
Wood Buffalo establishes and
maintains five boarded rinks
for outdoor skating. The rinks
receive daily maintenance
and have lights on until 10pm
each evening.

Curling

MacDonald Island Curling Club
MacDonald Island
T: 780.791.0070

Sports Organizations

Fort McMurray Minor Hockey
Frank LaCroix Arena
T: 780.743.7974

Fort McMurray Luge Club
Tom: 780.791.5304
E: [email protected]

Fort McMurray Oil Barons
Junior A Hockey
For game times call 780.743.5509
OILBARONS.COM

Fort McMurray Ski Team
Pamela: 780.713.2924
Sheila: 780.799.2366
E: [email protected]

Ptarmigan Nordic Ski Club
T: 780.790.0078
PTARMIGANNORDIC.COM

Sno Drifters
Snowmobiling Association
T: 780.743.0088
SNO-DRIFTERS.ORG

Noralta Skating Club
(CFSA sanctioned)
T: 780.791.4674
Sleigh Rides
Tour North Hay and Sleigh Rides
T: 780.799.2052

X-Country Ski Trails

Birchwood Trails
Competent Skiers
Starts behind tennis courts
at Birchwood School.
15 kilometres of double track
and over 100 kilometres of
groomed trails.

Central Reserve
Beginner Skiers
Starts at Hillcrest Drive
to Hinge Road; 3.5 kilometres.

Golden Eagle Resort Trails
Highway 69 E
T: 780.715.6970

Little Fisheries Creek
Advanced Skiers
For experienced skiers,
15 kilometres of double
track. Access to trail is
off Real Martin Drive
(across from Dickins Drive).

Ptarmigan Nordic Ski Club
Gerry Breneman
T: 780.743.4375

Ross Haven Loop
Follows green belt
on Ross Haven Drive;
2 kilometres of single track.

Timberline Drive Loop
Follows green belt. Joins
Birchwood Trail via cut
line on Tamarack Way;
3 kilometres of double track.

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Did You Know

Population facts - Fort Chipewyan

  • Population:  1008 (2012)
  • Population change from: -3% (2000 - 2012)
  • Average annual growth rate: 0.9% (2000 - 2012)
  • Number of dwellings: 309 (2012)
  • Projected population:
    • 2020: 988
    • 2030: 1295

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