Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - Alberta -

Sylvan Lake is located midway between Alberta’s two largest cities, Calgary and Edmonton, and 12 miles northwest of Red Deer. This natural lake covers 10,576 acres with 21 miles of shoreline. Sylvan Lake offers many scenic vistas: sandy beaches, wetland margins, and 70-foot limestone bluffs. The growing town of Sylvan Lake on the southern shore touts its idyllic location, while trying to meet the challenge of providing services to the increasing number of residents and visitors.

Sylvan Lake offers a wealth of water fun. Two Provincial Parks offer access near the shore, and the Town of Sylvan Lake’s Centennial Park provides picnic areas, a boardwalk and park benches for quiet contemplation. Several public beaches offer swimming, and two public boat launches give access to smaller boats. A privately-owned marina provides launch facilities for larger boats, rental slips, and other boating amenities. Boating fans enjoy water skiing, wakeboarding, sailing, canoing and kayaking.

‘Summer Villages’ are a specific legal municipality in Alberta, where seasonal residents are allowed to vote in area-specific elections during the summer. Sylvan Lake hosts five ‘summer villages’ along with some of the most expensive waterfront housing prices in Alberta. The residents are serious about the continued good health of their lake, with homeowner associations at the summer villages taking an active part in the Sylvan Lake Watershed Steward Society. Sailing is a long-enjoyed sport here, with the Sylvan Lake Sailing Club sponsoring sailboat races every summer Wednesday night. Fishermen enjoy Sylvan Lake year round, catching northern pike, walleye, yellow perch, white suckers and burbot. In winter, they share the ice with snowmobilers, while ice skaters enjoy the two maintained rinks off-shore from Centennial Park.

Small Sylvan Lake Provincial Park offers the most popular public beach area. A mile of sand-and-grass beach is considered one of Canada’s ten best beaches, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Changing rooms, picnic areas, a concession stand and playground round out the facilities at the small park. Near the east shore of the lake, Jarvis Bay Provincial Park offers modern spaces for camping, including RVs. Several trails allow for hiking, but there is no direct access to the lake itself here. The trails are popular during the winter months for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The provincial government also owns a small 33-acre section at the northwest corner of the lake that is an ideal spot for bird watching and nature exploration. At least one private campground offers space for camping fans, while a few weekly and seasonal rentals can be found. Several large hotels join resort hotels to provide lodgings to suit special interests.

The Town of Sylvan Lake has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. The town provides amenities that attract full-time residents, such as numerous parks, excellent schools and several walking trails running through the city. The abandoned rail bed of the former Canadian Pacific right-of-way creates the CP Pathway, perfect for leisurely strolls. A skate park, dog park and aquatic center are especially attractive to young families, while a popular water slide facility on the outskirts of town draws fun lovers of all ages. The town also produces several festivals each year that attract a wide variety of visitors, such as the Jazz at the Lake Festival, Winterfest, Dragon Boat Festival and 1913 Days in honor of the town’s founding.

Deeper than many prairie lakes, Sylvan Lake gains its waters from several small inflowing streams, rainfall and groundwater. Most water loss is due to evaporation. Its only outflow is little Sylvan Creek which empties into Cygnet Lake. After crossing shallow Cygnet Lake, excess water eventually flows into the Red Deer River. Water levels fluctuate according to rainfall, but almost never more than three feet. Water has flowed out into Sylvan Creek only three times in the past 20 years.

Recently, drinking water has been a concern in the town of Sylvan Lake. Demand due to population growth will soon exceed the capacity of municipal wells. Water for additional infrastructure is a concern that municipal leaders must address for future growth. Meanwhile Sylvan Lake is open for business. So, pack the swim suit, the fishing rods, and hook up to the boat. Plenty of water-based enjoyment awaits your family here.

Things to do at Sylvan Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Provincial Park
  • Playground

Fish species found at Sylvan Lake

  • Burbot
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sucker
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch

Sylvan Lake Photo Gallery

Sylvan Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 10,576 acres

Shoreline Length: 21 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,073 feet

Average Depth: 31 feet

Maximum Depth: 60 feet

Water Volume: 334,014 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 58 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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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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