The Largest Lakes in Alberta

Lesser Slave Lake, one of the largest lake in Alberta, Canada.
Lesser Slave Lake, one of the largest lake in Alberta, Canada.

Most of the lakes in Alberat were formed about 12,000 years ago during the last glaciations. Different types of lakes are scattered across the province including glacial lakes in the Canadian Rockies, brown water lakes, small shallow lakes, and large lakes characterized by sandy beaches. Most of the water bodies in Alberta are concentrated in the northeast wet regions and Lakeland County. The water in the province is drained in the northeastern direction with four largest rivers in the province collecting the water. The four largest lakes in Alberta cover an area greater than 4,000 square miles.

4. Bistcho Lake

Bistcho Lake is one of the biggest lakes in the province of Alberta. It is located in the northwestern portion of the province and has a total area of 413 square km. The waters of the lake drain into the Arctic Ocean by the Petitot, Liard and Mackenzie River.

3. Lesser Slave Lake

Lesser Slave Lake is found in the central part of Alberta, northwest of Edmonton. It covers a surface area of 1,168 square km. Lesser Slave Lake drains into the Athabasca River. The lake is popular with birders because of its location on the major flyway for birds. Lakeside camping facilities are located along the sandy beaches of the lake. Fishing in the lake is also a popular activity. Parts of the lake, especially on the north shore are protected areas.

2. Lake Claire

Lake Claire is located within Wood Buffalo National Park between the mouths of Athabasca River and Peace River in northern Alberta. It is the largest lake entirely in Alberta. The lake covers an area of 1426 square km with an additional island covering an area of 8.1 square miles. Lake Claire is fed by Birch River while it discharges its water into Peace River which finds its way to the Arctic Ocean. Lake Claire was once the deepest lake in the Athabasca Delta region but has since become shallow over the years because of the silt accumulation. However, the lake still remains one of the most profitable goldeye fisheries.

1. Lake Athabasca

Lake Athabasca covers the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. A larger portion (74%) of the lake is in Saskatchewan while the rest is in Alberta. It covers an area of 7,850 square km in total. It is one deepest and largest lakes in the two provinces in which it is found. Its water flows northwards through Slave and Mackenzie River systems into the Arctic Ocean. Lake Athabasca has several tributaries including Helmer Creek, Old Fort River, Athabasca River, Colin River, and William Rivers among other tributaries. The lake contains 23 species of fish including lake trout, goldeye, yellow perch, and pike. The sand dunes on the Lake Athabasca are some of the largest dunes in the world.

Alberta's Largest Lakes

RankLakeArea (including islands)Altitude
1Lake Athabasca7,850 sq km (3,030 sq mi)213 m (699 ft)
2Lake Claire1,436 sq km (554 sq mi)213 m (699 ft)
3Lesser Slave Lake1,160 sq km (450 sq mi)578 m (1,896 ft)
4Bistcho Lake426 sq km (164 sq mi)552 m (1,811 ft)

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