Featured photos from the

Calling All Photographers Campaign

Discover how the selected photographers of the Explore Wood Buffalo - Photography Campaign brought their images to life in the Storytelling Experiences feature. The collection of photos showcase the real and raw versions of life within the Wood Buffalo region as adventurers and residents experience its authenticity.

The campaign will continue to run from now until the end of Summer 2020. If you have eye-catching shots that capture the adventure, action, experience and beauty found within the Wood Buffalo region, submit your photos and help us bring our region’s stories to life. Click Here for full details.

Backyard Motorcross

It was a cold September day and snow had just swept through the bike track at the Tom Weber Park & Boat Launch in Waterways. Denise Norman was joining some of the local motorcross riders who were out racing on their 110CC mini bikes. "When I got to the boat lauch, I could already hear laughing and playful banter. Everyone wants to be the Mini-Mob Champ." Norman said, reminiscing on the day."I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew it would be fun. There were kids and families there to watch despite the cold."

Photographer: Denise Norman
Location: Waterways, Fort McMurray
Date: Sept 28, 2019

Controlled Chaos

Trailing off into the remaining unburnt portions of the Boreal Forest in Fort McMurray's backcountry. Dave Stearman was sitting as a passenger on a snowmobile with his friend and team lead musher, Randy MacKenzie, at the helm.

"The way the sun was striking the trees was serene." Stearman said on capturing the moment. "As it shone through the forest canopy, I could see the dog's breath through the cold, frosty air. They were each breathing, trotting and heads down working in unison. It was just the perfect timing and a spectacular sight."

Photographer: Dave Stearman
Location: Highway 69, Fort McMurray
Date: Jan 15, 2019

Fast Freeze

Tucked away in the undeveloped area of Parsons Creek rests an open landscape, one Margie MacDonald describes as the perfect setting for watching the day's sun fall into the night and best place to capture the cold temperatures the Fort McMurray winters bring to the region.

"Getting this photo was kind of like a silver lining to the frigid day." MacDonald shared about trying out a hot water flip with her friend. "It was the fastest photoshoot I was ever on. I went to the location and got set up. Once I was ready, I talked to Erica, and she boiled water at her house and drove to meet me. She hopped out of the car, ran to the spot I wanted her to stand, flipped the water, and that was it. It was hilarious. We were freezing even in the short timeframe."

Photographer: Margie MacDonald
Location: Parsons Creek, Fort McMurray
Date: Jan 18, 2019

Jet Skiing on Gregoire

Standing close to the bench shore at old Camp Yogi, Denise Norman was up to waist in water to get a little closer to professional Jet Ski Racer Mike Klippenstein during the 2018 Western Canada Watercross Association races.

"I hadn't planned on getting in the water." Norman said on capturing the shot. "It was a little chilly for August, and I was afraid of dropping my camera in the water, but I ended up with some great photos. It was a great atmosphere. Lots of family and friends on the beach. People were out further on the lake, watching from their boats."

Photographer: Denise Norman
Location: Gregoire Lake, Anzac
Date: January 18, 2019

In Muddy Waters

Summer sunsets in the Wood Buffalo region are one of its gems because the farther north, the later the sun stays up. And, the more sunlight there is, the more time to bike ride on Fort McMurray’s extensive trails as Margie MacDonald explains about her photo.

“I love how the sun sets so late in June. We were almost on the longest day of the year, and I went for a bike ride to take advantage of the amazing Northern sunshine,” she said. “Whenever I’m on the bike, I feel like a kid. It brings me back to my childhood days when we had no choice but to entertain ourselves outside. And, if you were lucky enough to have a working bike, it gave you an immense sense of freedom to hop on your bike and go for a rip. Anytime I bike now, as an adult, I get that same feeling of being free. It feels like you can go anywhere. And just like being a kid, I’m sad when the sun sets because then I feel I have to go back home.”

Photographer: Margie MacDonald
Location: Waterways, Fort McMurray
Date: June 16, 2019

Park Play

Families living in the Wood Buffalo region are among the most fearless to frigid temperatures. Photographer Melissa Richards explains how her family takes advantage of the winter season with outdoor play, and not even a broken arm with freezing fingers could keep her from venturing out to make snow angels.

“I had just bought my drone a couple of weeks before I fell and shattered my elbow on my dominant arm. It was really cold that day, but my family obliged and helped me hobble up the hill to attempt this image. The kids were playing around and then started making snow angels,” she shared. “I thought this shot was worth the freezing fingers and trouble of getting up the hill.”

Photographer: Melissa Richards
Location: Eagle Ridge, Fort McMurray
Date: Feb 2020

Spectacle of the North

The Wood Buffalo National Park is the largest national park in Canada and is home to the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserve with an area of 44,807 km2. The Preserve is also celebrated with the Dark Sky Festival to promote the wonders of the universe. Rich in history with the perfect backdrop to set up a tripod, it’s one of the best places in the world to capture the majestic Aurora Borealis and is why photographer Mark Jinks comes back each year.

“I’ve photographed them many times previously but not this far north. And, now I return every year,” said Jinks on his photo shown at the site of an old abandoned trappers’ cabin. “It is remote and quiet, perfect for nature lovers like me. The northern lights viewing opportunities are second to none, unique scenery can be found in the park, and the boreal forest is home to all sorts of wildlife species.”

Photographer: Mark Jinks
Location: K'alt'odeeche First Nation, Wood Buffalo National Park
Date: Sept 12, 2018

Out on the Ice

The fresh snowfall on the landscape of Gregoire Lake Provincial Park has a soundless beauty. It’s just one of the many elements that attracts others to icefish on its lake in the winter. And although Margie MacDonald wasn’t on the ice trying to catch one of Alberta’s common catches like the Walleye and Northern Pike on the day that she captured her photograph, she said seeing the sight enticed her to one day take part.

“My friend Katy and I took a drive out to Anzac to catch some dog sled races. Unfortunately, we missed the races and instead decided to go searching for another scenic spot in the area,” she reminisced. “When we happened to come upon the scene, it just looked so peaceful. I wanted to be them, out on the frozen lake surrounded by nothing but crisp, winter air. I have never gone ice fishing but would love it.”

Photographer: Margie MacDonald
Location: Anzac, Wood Buffalo region
Date: Jan 27, 2019

Hangingstone River Float

From hiking to canoeing, Fort McMurray’s backyard has all the ideal attributes for those who love to explore nature and take advantage of its accessible trail and river systems found throughout the region. Sierra Collins is a local outdoor enthusiast who paddles up regularly with her kayak on the Clearwater River.

“In this photo, we had just ridden the rapids and were enjoying the paddle along the river. Up ahead, past the bridges, we stopped on a sandbar to have a snack and enjoy the scenery,” Collins shared. “It’s an unusual day to ride the Hangingstone without seeing either a crane, a few beavers or ducks on the water. If you’re looking for excitement, riding the Hangingstone rapids is a definite must-do. Something a little lower risk, and the slower pace is hopping in your kayak from one of our many boat launches.”

Photographer: Sierra Collins
Location: Hangingstone River, Fort McMurray
Date: July 5, 2018

Friends in the Forest

Anzac is home to the Wood Buffalo region’s extensive network of trail systems within the boreal forest. Maintained and groomed by the Sno Drifters Snowmobile Club, the Anzac Trail is part of the over 177-kilometre loop. Alongside the trails, some of the forest's oldest trees stand tall, making a majestic snowcapped canopy to its travellers below.

“The snow-covered trees were so breathtaking. We wanted to pay homage to them,” said Margie MacDonald on taking the trail walk to check out the forest. “We pulled off the road because we saw the beginning of a trail and wanted to investigate. The trails in this region are beautiful. I would encourage people to get out there in all seasons to admire them. After a heavy snowfall, they are especially majestic.”

Photographer: Margie MacDonald
Location: Anzac
Date: Jan 27, 2019

Ice Road Motorbike

The Fort Chipewyan Winter Road opens access to its community during the colder months as it allows many travellers to take on a one-of-kind trek into the Wood Buffalo National Park. Photographer Mike Haberoth is the organizer of Ride North Moto and takes a group of motorcycling philanthropists up the road every year to raise funds for local charities.

“I think capturing this photo helps show the depth that these riders push themselves through to check the trip off their bucket list, that in itself, makes it worth the effort,” he said.

Photographer: Michael Haberoth
Location: Carlson Landing, Wood Buffalo National Park
Date:Jan, 2020
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