Famous for outdoor fun, the city of Edmonton is lucky to be within reasonable driving distance of some of the best lakes in Alberta. Many lakes and park recreation areas are closed during the winter months, so May through October is the peak time for residents who want to get out and enjoy some Edmonton water activities. Boating, kayaking, fishing, camping and other adventures await near Edmonton. Keep reading to learn about the best Alberta lakes near Edmonton.
The Goldeye Lake Campground is about a three-hour drive from the Southeast Edmonton area. The park has 44 unserviced campsites near the lake, with a few large enough to accommodate an RV. It costs $28 to reserve a campsite on a first-come, first-serve basis. There are dry toilets available, water via a pump station, and firewood for sale. Note that the water at this site is not safe for drinking; campers are asked to bring their own potable water.
There is a boat launch and a hand launch for those wanting to take a small watercraft out on Goldeye Lake. The campground also has a few canoes available for rent. Goldeye is an excellent lake for fishing, as it is restocked with about 10,000 rainbow trout every year. For those who want to enjoy the views of the lake, there are numerous hiking trails in the area.
Residents drive about four hours from their homes in West Edmonton to reach Jasper National Park of Canada. Horseshoe Lake is situated next to the Icefields Parkway inside the park. There are no amenities at this remote lake, but there's so much rustic beauty to enjoy.
The lake is shaped like a horseshoe, and there is an easy hiking trail that loops around the water. It takes about a half-hour to traverse the entire outer length of the lake if hikers don't stop to take pictures of the wildflowers. The crystal clear waters are considered the best natural swimming hole in Jasper National Park. Note that the water in Horseshoe Lake is frigid, even on the hottest days of summer. Rainbow trout are plentiful in Horseshoe Lake. A small craft boat launch is perfect for canoes and kayaks.
Long Lake Provincial Park is about a 90-minute drive north of Edmonton. The large lake and campground here provide a wide range of outdoor activities for recreationists year-round. Long Lake is big enough to accommodate powerboats, windsurfing, water skiing, and sailboating. There are campsites available to rent and group-use areas for things like family reunions or corporate events.
Anglers can catch northern pike, walleye, whitefish and yellow perch in Long Lake. The lake is suitable for swimming on the warmest summer days, although the water is still relatively cold. Canoes, kayaks and standup paddleboards are available to rent when the concession stand is open. A couple of nice front-country hikes embark from this provincial park, allowing hikers to get an elevated view of the lake and surrounding area. There is a 9-hole golf course nearby for the summer months, and the Long Lake Ski Area is available in the winter months.
Gull Lake is a vast and famous recreational lake located about halfway between Edmonton and Calgary. There is a summer village on the southern end of the lake (the village is also called Gull Lake), and lovely waterfront homes can be seen peeking through the trees along the outskirts of the lake in several areas. The lake is large enough to have multiple campgrounds and RV sites on the outskirts, each of which charges different fees for use. Brewers Campground and the Aspen Beach Lakeview Campground (both are located on the lake's southwest shore) are the best options for camping during the summer months.
Watercraft as large as powerboats and sailboats are allowed on the lake. Northern pike is the most common fish species that anglers chase in Gull Lake, although there are lake whitefish, Burbot and stocked walleye.
Wabuman Lake is an hour's drive directly west of Edmonton, just off the Yellowhead Highway. This is another sizeable recreational lake, and the Wabuman Lake Provincial Park is an excellent place to camp and stay for a visit. It has 166 unserviced campsites available for $37 a night and 106 powered campsites for $45 a night. There are also showers, tap water and flush toilets available, so it is not as rustic as many other campgrounds in Alberta.
Walleye, northern pike, and Burbot are the most common fish species that anglers catch in Wabuman Lake. There are also lake whitefish, rainbow trout and yellow perch in smaller numbers. The lake is large enough for powerboats and sailboats. A large beach at the park makes an excellent spot for swimming or boating. The park also has a playground for kids and a nearby golf course for adults.
Cold Lake is about a three-hour drive to the northeast of Edmonton. The Cold Lake Provincial Park has a campground with several sites available for rent. Twelve walk-in tent campsites with no power or water are available for $32 a night. Seventy-eight sites with electrical power are available for $40 a night. And there are 25 campsites with both power and water for $48 a night.
A small store near the campground has groceries, supplies and firewood available. There is a pier for fishing or simply enjoying the views of the lake and a launch for watercraft. Powerboats and sailboats are welcome here. The most common fish species in Cold Lake are walleye, sauger, yellow perch, northern pike and lake trout. Tap water, flush toilets and showers, and a nearby playground for kids are available.
Explore Alberta Lakes Near Edmonton
This list only scratches the surface regarding the many freshwater lakes available in Alberta. For people looking for something closer to home, there are many water-based outdoor activities in Edmonton. There are nearly 600 lakes to choose from; people can visit them all or set up residence in Edmonton lake homes. For anyone in Edmonton looking for an adventure on or near the water, they will never run out of choices.