Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Great Bear Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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Looking for Great Bear Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Great Bear Lake

Great Bear Lake is located in the Northwest Territories of Canada. It is a natural lake, encircled by wilderness, and the largest lake completely in Canada. Great Bear Lake is on the Arctic Circle and ice-covered eight months out of the year. With an area of over 7 million acres and more than 26 islands, Great Bear Lake is an outdoor utopia for visitors who seek the peace and quiet of a large, beautiful, untouched lake. Magnificent scenery is the norm, especially in the MacTavish Arm of the Lake. The only village on Great Bear Lake is Deline – about 600 residents. During nine months of the year, air travel is possible with an airport a short distance from Deline. From 1898 to 1964 discoveries of radium, uranium and silver spawned an intermittent mining industry.

Pre-glacial valleys formed the bottom of Great Bear Lake. It is ice-covered from November through July and its surface was, in earlier times, used as a highway before a road was built around the lake. The Lake is one of the deeper lakes in the world at 1463 feet, and the water is a pristine lake environment. Great Bear Lake drains through the Great Bear River into the Mackenzie River.

The Great Bear Lake area affords a wonderful hunting ground, and ‘fly in’ is the mode of transportation. As one might expect on a lake surrounded by wilderness, hunting is a favorite sport with caribou and musk ox prime targets. Sport fishing is also great with trophy size lake trout and arctic grayling the main attractions (Great Bear Lake has world records for both), along with northern pike and walleye catches helped by several guiding establishments. There is a fine hunting and fishing lodge in Deline, and native guides must be used. Ice fishing is a favorite activity both for visitors and natives.

Wildlife viewing is a frequent visitor activity; caribou must be chased from the Deline Airport before landing! If you’re lucky, you may see a few bear, caribou, moose, musk ox, or elk. Many different bird species are possible to see.

Great Bear Lake is a spectacular setting in which to partake of the rustic outdoors. Size and remoteness ensure that a visitor will have few competitors for its natural, wilderness setting of scenic beauty.

Things to Do at Great Bear Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing

Fish Species Found at Great Bear Lake

  • Grayling
  • Lake Trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Find Places to Stay at Great Bear Lake

If you’re considering a Great Bear Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Great Bear Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Great Bear Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Great Bear Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 7,698,074 acres

Shoreline Length: 1,690 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 610 feet

Average Depth: 235 feet

Maximum Depth: 1,463 feet

Water Volume: 1,812,754,700 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 124 years

Drainage Area: 44,293 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

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