Exploring Yellowknife

4 Things to do while visiting Fort Smith, NWT

Rusty Raven, Fort Smith

As a part of my NWT Road Trip, I spent two nights in Fort Smith and filled those days with what they had to offer.

1. Stay at the Queen Elizabeth Territorial Campground

It is a full-service park; they have big powered sites with tent platforms and showers. (If there are no showers, the rec center has showers for only $2 a use)

Toni and Peanuts are the park contractors looking after the place and they are great. Toni greets you at the park office and is more than happy to tell you about Fort Smith and what there is to do. Peanut is Toni’s husband, he is a quiet man. The maintenance man. He might pop his head into your campsite to say hello, he even might sing for you. The pair is awesome and very accommodating.

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2. Walk down to the Rapids of the Drowned

Located right in Fort Smith, these rapids offer an amazing view from above on the Fort Smith Scenic Route. At the top, you can park and walk, or hike rather, down to the river shore. It is a hike straight down for about 15 minutes. Pack water and lots of bug spray.

At the bottom is where the fun begins. Large rock faces heat up in the sun; they are perfect for just laying down on or for having a picnic.

BRING YOUR CAMERA! You will see the pelicans as they bob around trying to catch fish in the rapids. They are big and not afraid of you, heck, they probably can’t even hear you over the rushing water. Use your telephoto lens and capture these amazing birds.

If you are adventurous enough, try your hand at some fishing in the rapids. Or swim in one of the shallow bays.


3. Visit the Wood Buffalo National Park Salt Plains

The Salt Plains are an amazing place that you aren’t even expecting to see. After a 13km drive off the highway on a bumpy gravel road, you come to a large parking lot that looks over the Salt Plains.

Congratulations, you have also just found the only flush toilet outhouse in the Northwest Territories. Take a moment and take that in. It is a glorious moment.

Once you have hiked down the hill to the plains you will be in awe of how it is really salt dusted, not in just one spot, but the entire place AND IT’S HUGE.

Other than the awe of the natural salt deposit only minutes away, watch for animals. The plains are covered with tracks from bison and wolves and the activities that they get up to can be left up to the imagination.


4. Do what the Author says

By recommendation from one of the North’s greatest authors, Richard Van Camp, this is one thing that you must do when visiting Fort Smith.

Go to Kaser’s Grocery Store, located across from the Northern Store and buy yourself a sub – I got a corned beef on an onion bun. Once you have the sub, head to the Rusty Raven coffee/book shop and get yourself a coffee. Once you have secured both items drive back to the lookout point over the river on the scenic route. Enjoy both.

I must say the sub was much better than I was expecting. They are made daily with fresh bread and instead of putting a sauce on it; they allow you to grab mustard or mayo packages.

The Rusty Raven is also a delightful little shop with many northern related items from around Fort Smith. Definitely, a place to stop if you are just touring the area.


There are many other activities to do in Fort Smith that I didn’t get to:

  • Go Golfing
  • Watch the bison on the side of the highway
  • Hike down to the other 2 or 3 rapids south of Fort Smith
  • Visit Little Buffalo Falls
  • Northern Life Museum & Cultural Centre

Fort Smith is a fun little community that has a lot more going than you might think. If you are planning a summer road trip, take a detour over to Fort Smith, it is only 300kms from Enterprise, NWT.


About the author

Kyle Thomas

Kyle grew up in Yellowknife and is a local entrepreneur, writer, baker, and Yellowknife Advocate who is addicted to learning as much as he can about the community and sharing it with anyone who'll listen. In 2009 he developed YkOnline.ca. A website all about living, working and thriving in Yellowknife for residents, newcomers, and visitors.


  • You missed Pelican Rapids…by far the most impressive and awe-inspiring. It is about a 45 minute hike and then you can walk out on a rock peninsula that juts into the river channel and creates huge rapids and a line of waterfalls (depending on water level). It is my “must-see” of Fort Smith.

  • A must see is the Northern Life Museum & Cultural Centre…a wonderful museum with many activities and exhibits. Also stop by The Sweetest Grounds for ice cream, candy, coffee and other treats.

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