Fort McMurray, colloquially known as Fort Mac, is a city in Alberta, Canada. It is the largest settlement in Athabasca Oil Sands region. Although it has the look and feel of a city, it lost its city status in 1995 when it merged with a large rural area to form the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo .
Neighbourhoods the make up Fort McMurray include:
Alberta Highway 63 is the only road that goes in and out of Fort McMurray. It it paralleled by Highway 881 for about 200 kilometres. Going north, Highway 63 is divided up until the Athabasca River crossing just south of Fort MacKay, while southbound is divided up to the intersection of Alberta Highway 55, near Grassland, Atmore, and Plamondon. Southbound traffic leaving town is abundant between Thursday evening and Friday evening, while Sunday afternoons and evenings are the worst for northbound traffic coming back into town.
Beware that Highway 63, both north and south of town, is notorious for vehicle accidents that unfortunately result in fatalities. In addition to the sheer amount of traffic caused by both commuters and weekend getaway seekers, most structures for the oil sands are built in Edmonton and trucked up north, which can take up the entire highway. Cellphone service can also be weak to non-existent in some parts. It's best to leave town on a full tank of gas and a full stomach, as the only places to get food and gas up going southbound are in Wandering River (over 200km away) and after that, Grassland (255km south of Fort McMurray). Going north, there are gas stations, restaurants, and convenience stores in Fort MacKay, and after that, nothing else. If you are unaccustomed to driving on remote highways, or feel that you cannot handle sharing the road with enormous truck loads and a high volume of vehicular traffic, consider taking the bus or flying.
Passenger rail service ended in 1986. While there's been some talk about upgrading the existing rail freight corridor, there's no real prospect of bringing it back at this time.
Fort McMurray is served by the following motor coach companies via Edmonton:
Fort McMurray is in fact, a loose cluster of several dozen subdivisions, many having only one entry/exit. Most subdivisions are pedestrian friendly, however to travel from one part of town to the other end, a vehicle is definitely recommended.
Fort McMurray has an extensive public transit system that reaches all areas of the city, including the airport. It is common however for the buses to be late or have long waiting periods between each service. One way fares are $1.25, including trips starting and ending at the airport, with fares being waived for children under 5 and seniors over 65.
Taxi cabs are easily available. Taxi cab companies include:
The Oil Sands Discovery Centre, 515 MacKenzie Boulevard, +1 780 743-7167, . September 4 - May 13, 10AM-4PM, closed Mondays. The Centre offers an insight on the rapid pace of development happening north of the city. In addition it explains the history of the oil sands, how the oil sand is mined and converted into product, and future ways of extracting the oil sand. The Discovery Centre also shows exhibits of machines that are used to process the oil sand.
Fort McMurray Tourism, 1-800-565-3947, , schedules tours of Syncrude or Suncor, the main oil sand plants, from May to September. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance (one week to 10 days advance booking recommended). Children under 12 are not allowed on the tour.
Aurora Borealis, the "Northern Lights" are a must see in Fort McMurray. Tours guides such as Alta-Can Aurora Tours 1-780-452-5187 , and Aurora Tours 1-780-334-2292  can arrange viewings of the elusive lights.
Points North Adventures, +1 780 743-9350, , offers canoe trips and rentals, river tours, and jet boat rides. Vista Ridge, +1 780 743-8651 (vistaridge.ab.ca), offers skiing, snowboard and tubing activities in the winter.
Souvenirs of Fort McMurray and the oil sands can be found at the Discovery Centre, Heritage Park, and retail locations such as the city's two Dollar Stores, located downtown and in Timberlea. The Discovery Centre sells small vials of crude oil extracted from the various facilities outside of the city.
Fort McMurray has several shopping areas and malls, the largest being Peter Pond Shopping Centre, 9713 Hardin Street, +1 780 791-4044, . It is, however quite small for a city of 80,000 people. A larger outdoor shopping plaza, The Commons At Eagle Ridge, is in development in Timberlea, though as of November 2018, only the new movie theatre has been opened. Other tenants expected to move in are Dairy Queen, Pet Valu, Starbucks, A&W, Banquet Premium Wine Bar, a bakery, a cannabis shop, a gym, two restaurants, a dental office, a liquor store, and a barber shop.
Fast food chains such as McDonalds, Tim Hortons, Burger King, A&W, Wendy's, Edo Japan, Subway, and Dairy Queen can be found all over the city. Budget Pizza chains operating in the city are: Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut, Pizza 73, Little Caesar's, and Papa John's.
Ms.B's – family owned restaurant with all-day breakfast; two locations.
Kozy Korner Cafe – family owned restaurant popular with Newfoundlanders living in the city.
Mom's Kitchen – budget all-day breakfast restaurant located inside River City Centre.
McRay's Roudhouse Grill – in Gregoire, attached to Best Canadian Motor Inn.
Mid-Budget chain restaurants in the city include Mr.Mikes Moxie's, Montana's, Original Joe's, Canadian Brewhouse, Cora, and Boston Pizza. Local pizzerias such as Jomaa's, Supreme Pizza, Cosmos Pizza, MJ's Pizza and Grill, Pizza Plus, and Hu's, could be considered mid-budget in comparison to the chains.
Chez Max Jamaican Cuisine - authentic Jamaican cuisine located downtown at the Syncrude Towers. Also does meal prep.
Spices Indian Restaurant
World Bridge Buffet
Spring Moon Japanese Restaurant – two locations
Fuji Japanese Restaurant
Yoshi Japanese Restaurant
Town Hall Public House
East Village Pub
Wood Buffalo Brewing Company
Asta Trattoria Italiana
Earls (2 locations; downtown and Fort McMurray Airport)
Prime Social Kitchen
The legal drinking age in Alberta is 18.
Black Horse Pub - located in Thickwood.
The Fort McMurray Newfoundlanders Club - A very popular spot with the locals. All kinds of music is played here. Club mix, country, rock, and yes, Newfie music. Be sure that if you're going to show up on a Friday or Saturday night, come early, as this place fills up quickly.
Bailey's Pub - located inside the Stonebridge Hotel, next to World Bridge Buffet.
Tavern on Main - kind of hard to find, it is located behind the Greystone Building.
Showgirls Exotic Night Club
Sociables - located in Thickwood
Jaguar Lounge - extremely small bar located in Dickinsfield.
Brewski's - located in Gregoire.
Fort McMurray has an economy that comes and goes with the price of oil. Many locals you'll meet will more than likely be employed out at one of the city's biggest oil producers, such as Syncrude, Suncor, CNRL Horizon, Husky Sunrise, Cenovus Christina Lake, and JACOS, among many others. Though known for being a city of financial opportunity, the golden days have since come and gone. As of July 2018, the unemployment rate for Northern Alberta, which includes Fort McMurray, is at 11.3%, far higher than the national average. It is highly recommended you secure employment and a place to live before moving to the city, as jobs are currently scarce, and the rental market is both expensive and challenging due to low vacancy rates.
Fort McMurray can be known for its brutally cold winters, with temperatures dropping as low as -45 °C. It is very important that your vehicle is winterized; being equipped with winter tires, and having a plug for the engine heat block.
In regards to crime, Fort McMurray is very safe for the average citizen. As with any city, you may possibly run into aggressive panhandlers in the downtown core, and parts of Timberlea. The bars after closing time, as well as the Boomtown Casino, can often be rowdy during evenings, weekends and holidays, but are safe otherwise.
North of Fort McMurray
South of Fort McMurray