Tour Alberta’s North

The Mackenzie Frontier Circle Drive

In the Brochure  

For full details on the Circle Drive Tour, as well as thorough information on our region and its history, see our Brochure PDF (1MB).

  • The Tour
  • Transportation
  • Accommodations Directory
  • Food Services Directory
  • Region Map
  • What to See and Do
  • First Nation’s People
  • Alexander Mackenzie & The Fur Traders
  • Agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Oil & Gas
  • Visitor Information & Museums
  • Community Contacts
  • Relocation & Investment Contacts

Drive on scenic, uncrowded roads through thriving communities carved out of Alberta’s last wilderness. Hike on wilderness trails, camp out under the stars and explore the uniqueness of each community.

Spend a lazy afternoon fishing or watching local bird populations. Visit museums, visitor centres and historical sites to learn how the region has developed and grown. Plenty of subject matter and longer than usual summer daylight hours inspire many a photograph!

Located in Alberta’s NW corner, Mackenzie Region is larger than the province of New Brunswick. High Level, the most central community in the district, is located halfway between Edmonton and Yellowknife. It is the last full service stop before the NWT border. Where Alberta began, Fort Vermilion is located along the Peace River. La Crete, to the south, is the agricultural center for the region. Zama City – which isn’t a city at all – is in the middle of northern Alberta’s oil field. South of Zama is Rainbow Lake, where Banff Oil Co. drilled the first successful oil well and set off the region’s oil and gas boom.

Lay of the Land

You seldom find such variation. The open flat land of Buffalo Head Prairie changes to wetlands and river valleys near the Peace River. To the north and west are extensive Boreal Forests. The Caribou Mountain Wildland Provincial Park is safe haven for native species to thrive undisturbed. Special regulations apply for hunting and ATV use.

Mackenzie County Landscape Photo

Photo courtesy Aaron Dittrich

Greater amounts of lichens and mosses grow here than anywhere else in Alberta. The Cameron Hills in the NW and the Buffalo Head Hills to the SE contrast the low muskeg and open meadows. Dry salt meadows can also be found. Watt Mountain, NW of High Level, has vegetation similar to the Rocky Mountain Foothills. We have the largest known meteorite crater (20–25 km in diameter) in Western Canada. Many rivers and lakes supply our water, most notably the mighty Peace River – for years the highway of The North. The Nationally significant Hungry Bend Sandhills border the Peace.

Feathered and Furred Inhabitants

Vast wetlands attract many species of migrating birds. Endangered species and those sensitive to man (Whooping Cranes, Peregrine Falcons and rare White Pelican) also find safe haven here. Bistcho Lake to the NW, is home to one of the largest breeding populations of bald eagles in Alberta. Moose inhabit the muskeg and lowlands while deer frequent fields and meadows. Alberta hosts the largest concentration of Woodland Caribou. The region is proud to accommodate two herds, one centralized in the Wood Buffalo National Park, and the Hay-Zama herd in and around Chateh and Zama City. Fur-bearing animals such as wolves, coyotes and beavers are in abundance with a good chance you’ll see a black bear in your travels. Woolly mastodon and 10,000-year old bison bones have also been uncovered in the region.

There’s more in the Brochure!

For full details on the Circle Drive Tour, as well as thorough information on our region and its history, see our Brochure PDF (1MB).

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