Alberta’s Big Lake Country gets it’s name from Lesser Slave Lake, which is the largest lake in the province. The area has many opportunities for adventure tourism and outdoors recreational activities including camping, hiking, birding and water sports. As well each August long weekend, the town of High Prairie hosts the Elk Pro Rodeo.
On the east end of the lake is the Town of Slave Lake and on it’s west end, in the south Peace country, is Town of High Prairie. In between these two towns and on the south shore of the lake are a series of small lakeside villages and hamlets. Running from east to west, on Highway 2, are Wagner, Widewater, Canyon Creek, Assineau, Kinuso, Faust, Driftpile and Joussard. These communities are found by going west of the junction of Highway 33, coming north from the Swan Hills, Whitecourt, Ft. Assinaboine and the Provincial Capital Edmonton.
If you’re seeking aboriginal tourism experiences then visit the Driftpile First Nation, in August, when they hold their annual Powwow. Grouard, north of High Prairie, also has the Native Cultural Arts Museum. Other websites that you may want to look at are Whitefish Lake First Nation (110k north of the town of High Prairie) and the Bigstone Cree Nation are located north of Slave Lake
For roots music fans, on a weekend close to the summer solstice (June 21), the Driftpile area hosts the North Country Fair, an eclectic festival of folk, blues, country, rock and world beat music that revels well into the shortest night of the year. It’s a camp out festival, but don’t plan to get much sleep on Friday or Saturday nights, as the activities run late. Campfires and tent concerts run after the main stage performances end (approx. 1:00 am.) and continue into the wee small hours.
Also each year in June, when Alberta becomes a birder’s dream come true and hosts a marvelous selection of migratory birds, the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory holds the Lesser Slave Lake Songbird Festival. This birding observatory, just north of the Town of Slave Lake, is also a must see for nature lovers and birding enthusiasts, with the new Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation. If you’re going to be in the area contact the observatory to find out their hours, as they vary with the seasons.
In mid July of each year the Town of Slave Lake holds the Provincial where competitors use the fabulous sand of Devonshire beach to build their creations.
For an excellent view of the beaches and the wide vista of Slave Lake, with a view south to the Swan Hills, go to lookout at Marten Mountain where you’ll also find a miniature environment of sub alpine plant growth and the lovely hiking trail to Lily Lake.
For fishing fans, Slave Lake is the largest recreational lake in Alberta with abundant fishing year round. There are several walleye and pike fishing competitions, during the summer.
There are an abundance of accommodations in the area and camping is available in commercial campgrounds as well as in the three Provincial parks:
You can get to the area from Edmonton, or from points in northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Travelers from northern and central British Columbia, as well as the Yukon and Alaska reach the area via Alberta’s Peace Country. It’s also possible to do a circle route from Jasper, via Hinton, Grande Cache and the Peace Country. The area has excellent highways, for car and bicycle travel.
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