Grande Prairie is a city in Northern Alberta. Much of the province's oil industry is facing economic headwinds, but you'd never know it in booming GP, where one in eight permanent residents moved up in the 5 years between the last two censuses. Through its impressive assortment of strip malls and big box stores, Grande Prairie's commercial footprint stretches clear to the Arctic Circle, and distinctive Yukon and Northwest Territories license plates can often be spotted parked outside local businesses.
For all its breakneck growth and reasonably progressive development, Grande Prairie is largely a town for young, working families. Outdoor recreation is the escape of choice, especially the motorized variety, and the city is surrounded by a wealth of "Crown land" - that is, Canada's public property not subject to strict ecological protection.
Where Fort McMurray is a single-industry town accessible only by a dead-end highway, Grande Prairie - although still largely suburban - is more of a vibrant regional center. The local agricultural base is a bit more exotic than in the rest of Alberta, with elk and bison ranches commonplace, and most of Canada's honey is produced in the region. Local museums are generously funded by the city's shale gas wealth, with long hours and free admission. For most travelers, this is simply the last stop before starting the Alaska Highway, but the surrounding Peace River Country has a unique history and landscape that's well worth exploring.
Daily flights to Grande Prairie are available from Calgary and Edmonton on both Air Canada Jazz and Westjet. Charter airline Sunwest Aviation also offers flights to Edson and Peace River. Unfortunately Grande Prairie's regional airport is not connected to the city by transfer and can only be reached by taxi.
Grande Prairie is also serviced by daily Greyhound buses from Edmonton and Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Connections are the two aforementioned depots can be made to other destinations across Canada and the United States.
Once within the city, Grande Prairie Transit offers a small bus network that serves most parts of the municipality. The bus system consists of five routes. These routes run on a 30 minute basis during peak hours and hourly the remainder of the day. Weekends see reduced service, as do all statutory holidays. In addition to primary routes the city offers the non-profit, independent DTS (Disabled Transportation Society), which has specialized transport services for individuals with disabilities.
The City is most easily managed by rental car.