Lake Athabasca, Alberta & Saskatchewan, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - Alberta - Saskatchewan -

Lake Athabasca is a 1,939,776-acre lake with a maximum depth of 410 feet making it the largest and deepest lake in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. Approximately 30% of the lake lies within Alberta and the remainder is located in Saskatchewan. Lake Athabasca is a fly-in lake meaning the only way to get there is by plane. Known for its superb fresh water fishing, this remote Canadian lake offers anglers an ultimate fishing vacation getaway.

Lake Athabasca has consistently produced record setting trophy fish for many of the species indigenous to the lakes of northern Canada. The largest recorded lake trout ever caught at 102 pounds was landed by commercial fishermen in 1961. The Canadian record for a 42 pound northern pike came from the crystal clear waters of Lake Athabasca. Other sport fish in the lake include walleye, lake whitefish and arctic grayling. Local fishing guides will be more than happy to take you out on the lake to places where 60 pound trout are common and northern pike often exceed 50 inches. Arctic grayling, though small compared to trout and pike, are mighty fighters and a real thrill to catch. You can also try your hand at fly-fishing from the main shore, which encircles the lake for 1,181 miles, or the shore of several small islands on the lake.

Although fishing is Lake Athabasca’s main attraction, sand dunes on the south shore also draw much attention. Designated a Provincial Wilderness Park in 1992, the Athabasca Sand Dunes run for about 60 miles reaching as high as 100 feet in some areas. The sand dunes are the most northerly major sand field in the world. You will need a boat to visit the sand dunes and camping in designated areas is allowed. Be sure to notice the plants that grow up through the sand as you will not see them anywhere else in the world.

Spending some time on Lake Athabasca will allow you to discover the magnificent beauty of the unspoiled wilderness of the area encompassing a pristine lake so large that the opposite shoreline cannot be seen. There are a few lodges and vacation rentals on Lake Athabasca and two small towns – Fort Chipewyan and Uranium City. Fort Chipewyan is a small community that sits on Lake Athabasca in the northeast corner of Alberta. While only accessible by plane or winter ice roads, tourism plays a key role in the economy, especially in the summer months. The town is also responsible for a wild bison herd as part of Wood Buffalo National Park.

Wood Buffalo National Park, located in northwestern Alberta and southern Northwest Territories, was established in 1922 to protect the world’s largest herd of free roaming Wood Bison. It is also the only known nesting site of whooping cranes. The park headquarters is located in Fort Smith, Alberta, with a smaller satellite office in Fort Chipewyan. The park is located directly north of the Lake Athabasca Sands Dunes but access from Lake Athabasca is best by plane. Camping, hiking, swimming, boating, canoeing, fishing, wildlife viewing, bird watching, cross-country skiing, and shoeing are all allowed in the park.

Uranium and gold mining along the northern shore of Lake Athabasca resulted in the birth of Uranium City, Saskatchewan, which was home to the mine workers and their families. When the last mines closed in the 1980s, most of the people left the area and the population dropped from a high of 4,500 people to the present population of 120. Living in isolation, all goods and services are provided by air, winter roads and summer barging services. The town does have a certified airport with a gravel runway operated by the Saskatchewan Government Department of Highways & Transportation. The airport is one of the few employers left in the community.

Lake Athabasca has something for everyone. Anglers, outdoor enthusiasts, and those seeking a vacation off the beaten path will thoroughly enjoy the wide array of breathtaking scenes and points of interests that can only add to a truly unforgettable sport fishing experience.

Things to do at Lake Athabasca

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park

Fish species found at Lake Athabasca

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

Lake Athabasca Photo Gallery

    Lake Athabasca Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Water Level Control: Natural

    Surface Area: 1,939,776 acres

    Shoreline Length: 1,181 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 699 feet

    Average Depth: 66 feet

    Maximum Depth: 407 feet

    Water Volume: 165,242,878 acre-feet

    Drainage Area: 106,000 sq. miles

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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