About 3 hours north of Edmonton lies a piece of paradise that I refer to as “Alberta’s Ocean”! In fact, Lesser Slave Lake is the largest auto accessible lake in Alberta. I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my childhood summers at this lake and even more lucky to have the opportunity to take my son there this past weekend!
Here are a few reasons that you NEED to check out Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park either this year before the snow flies, to add to your list of destinations for next year or to enjoy some winter activities.
The number one reason that Lesser Slave Lake is a must see is the absolutely amazing views. The sunsets, the water, the great Boreal Forest that surrounds you- it is breathtaking. Rather than explain it, I’ll share some of my quick iPhone snaps below. Though stunning, the pictures don’t even do it complete justice.
Things to DO
Though Lesser Slave Lake is in quite a northernly location, you certainly won’t find a shortage of things to do. The town of Slave Lake is minutes from the Provincial Park and offers all services, plus hotels if camping isn’t your thing.
- Inside Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park you will enjoy lounging on the sandy and massive Devonshire Beach. There miles of shallow water and sand, perfect for kids and water activities!
- Try your luck on the golf course. My husband played a round at the Gilwood Golf & Country Club and loved it! He said it was challenging but fun. Next time I’m planning to go too!
- Go for a hike on the Lily Lake Trail and Marten Mountain Viewpoint. This 3 km trail will expose you to the beautiful boreal forest backcountry and take you to a perfect little lake for a picnic or fishing trip. (Please note that when we were in the park last weekend (August 26/17) this trail was closed due to high berry crops and bear activity.)
- Learn about Birds at the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation. I could write an entire post on this place. First of all the building is stunning and one of a kind! It’s an environmentally friendly space that uses solar panels, composting toilets, water collection, geothermal heating and non toxic resins and paints. Inside you will find interactive activities for kids and adults, displays and sometimes special programming. There is always a knowledgeable Parks staff member at the centre to help answer any of your park related questions. This is a great way to spend a few hours on a rainy day. Check out the gift shop too, they have a great selection of local literature as well as handmade items made by local residents.
- Go fishing! Lesser Slave Lake is known for its Walleye, Northern Pike and Perch fish. Many people fish while standing in the water, kayaking, or boating. Please note that if you require a boat launch that you can drive your boat into you will need to launch at the river by the town, just south of the park. There is a hand launch at the main campground, Marten River, so aluminum boats and canoes that are easier to launch are recommended.
- Learn from the pros! Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park has a wonderful selection of interpretive programs with staff that know their stuff. While we were there we learned all about bats, decomposition of logs in the forest and wolves. Saturday evenings there’s an entertaining show at the Marten River Campground Amphitheater that is not to be missed! My 4 year old son learned a ton of things about nature, wildlife and conservation in a child friendly environment that really held his interest.
There are a few options for camping while you are visiting Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park. There’s short stay (think overnight camping) at Devonshire Beach, Group Camping at Lily Creek and Marten River, Comfort Camping for a group of 10 in the beautiful Nest cabin and traditional camping at Marten River Campground. We stayed at Marten River and it was just as I remembered in my childhood! The campground is situated on a bank that overlooks the lake with a sandy natural beach below. Sites are well treed and offer many double options if you are camping with friends. There are 4 loops, with loop A and B offering power. The campground is equipped with fresh water taps, sani station, shower house ($) with flush toilets and new pit toilets. Kids will enjoy the playground area that is nestled between loops B & C. Another thing we love about this campground is all the trails. There’s something for everyone from short walks through the grounds to longer biking/hiking trails that take you to the group campsites and beyond. At the onsite office you can purchase ice, wood, pick up an Activity Pack or borrow a game or book. There are over 100 sites at Marten River, some with tent pads. Please ensure you reserve your site ahead of time as this place fills up most weekends. Also, when on the reservation system, take note of the size of the site as not all sites are long enough for large RV units and there are no pull though options.
Spending time in Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park is truly a special treat. If you are a city dweller you will feel as though you have really checked out and connected with nature, I promise. I can’t wait to get back again soon to continue making more memories with my family.
For more details about Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park please click here or send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*I am an Alberta Parks Ambassador. As such, my role is to expose families to Alberta Parks locations and encourage interaction with the amazing nature opportunities or province has to offer. All opinions are my own.