Visit the Oil Sands

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Author: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

In our study, 13 out of 20 respondents said they have visited the oil sands, with all but two of them saying industry was the important source of information during visits. Local citizens ranked the second most important source of information.

As it’s almost impossible to visit oil sands operations without permission from the operators, most respondents visited by invitation of industry or government.

Two contacts to touch base with in regards to forthcoming media-invited oil sands tours are Tony McCallum, media relations for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (403-267-1142), and David Sands with the Government of Alberta International and Intergovernmental Relations department (Tel: 780-422-2524 / Cell: 780-619-7586).

While accessing sources during visits can be a key goal to attain, one point a respondent made is that the point of a visit is experiential, meaning “visiting the oil sands is good just to be able to see the scale.”


One potential stop is the Oil Sands Discovery Centre on 515 MacKenzie Blvd. off of Highway 63.

Air Canada/Jazz offers non-stop flights to Fort McMurray from Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto. See their interactive flight map.

WestJet has non-stop routes to Fort McMurray from Calgary and Edmonton.

Click here for a directory of hotels and inns.

If you have free time to knock back a cold one, and perhaps hunt for citizen sources in the meanwhile, see this Yellow Pages directory of local bars and taverns, as well as a few Urbanspoon ratings.


Northwestern Air flies to Fort Chipewyan – where Athabasca Chipewyan, Mikisew Cree and Metis people live – from Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Fort Smith. See its online flight schedule.

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is about 200 km north of Fort McMurray. If visiting the area, as it is a remote community, provide about two weeks’ notice of your intent to visit.

Fort McKay is about 65 kms north of Fort McMurray off of Highway 63.

See our First Nations contact list.

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