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July 22, 2024 July 22, 2024

Alberta’s Largest Lake Is Hidden In Wood Buffalo National Park & You Need to Floatplane In To See It

Posted on July 10, 2024 by Britanny Burr

Alberta has over 600 freshwater lakes around this vast and beautiful province. If you love the outdoors and a little bit of adventure, you’ve got a wealth of options to choose from. Lake Claire, hidden deep within Wood Buffalo National Park, is one of Canada’s most captivating wonders.

This expansive lake, covering over 1,400 square kilometres, is the largest lake entirely in Alberta. This place is very remote, tucked deeply within the Peace-Athabasca Delta. It offers an unspoiled, secluded escape for those looking to immerse themselves in nature’s grandeur. Visiting this tremendous lake, however, comes with a twist. There are no roads in or out. Lake Claire is only accessible by boat, canoe, or floatplane, and it’s a trip of a lifetime.

Lake Claire is a pristine paradise that calls backcountry enthusiasts and wilderness buffs with its serene waters, abundant wildlife, and breathtaking vistas. Its waters flow into the Peace River, eventually finding their way to the Arctic Ocean through Slave River, Great Slave Lake, and Mackenzie River. Summer is the perfect time to explore this natural wonder, and there’s no better way to take in its beauty than from the seat of a floatplane.

Flying over Lake Claire in a floatplane is nothing short of spectacular. The remote nature of Lake Claire means that it’s almost only accessible by floatplane. As you take flight, the vast expanse of the lake unfolds beneath you, with its shimmering surface dotted with little islands and surrounded by dense forests. The aerial perspective offers a special appreciation for Lake Claire's sheer size and beauty, with its intricate shoreline and mosaic of wetlands. The views from high above provide a chance to spot wildlife such as bison, moose, wolves, caribou, mallards, and thousands of other species of birds, including the majestic whooping crane. Flights can be arranged from Fort Chipewyan or Fort McMurray by booking private charters. If you’re like us and a private charter isn’t in the cards, we hope reading about this lake and checking out the photos will give you a little taste to get your daydreams flowing.

Wood Buffalo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, primarily due to its rich biodiversity. Lake Claire is a hot-spot for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers alike. The lake is renowned for its stunning natural beauty and its crystal-clear waters reflecting in the sky. The park is home to the world's largest herd of free-roaming wood bison, and Wood Buffalo National Park has played an instrumental role in conservation efforts to save the bison. The park is a nesting site for great migratory birds, including the endangered whooping crane, the last natural wild migratory flock of whooping cranes in the world. Through intensive ongoing conservation efforts, whooping cranes have slowly recovered. This effort is said to be one of the world’s most celebrated conservation accomplishments.

Lake Claire is a haven for anyone who loves fishing. Shallow yet nutrient-rich waters, the lake boasts a rich fishing culture that traces back through generations of anglers. The lake is bursting with fish species like northern pike, walleye, and whitefish. There are no maintained campsites here, only the wild back-country. If you are looking to set up camp, it’s recommended that you hire a licensed park guide to assist with your journey.

One of the most captivating experiences at Lake Claire is witnessing the northern lights. During the summer months, the long, clear nights often give way to the miraculous glow of the dancing aurora borealis. The remote location of Lake Claire, far from city lights, provides a kaleidoscope of colour and a front-row seat to this spectacular light show, making it a bucket-list experience. It’s a photographer's dream come true.

Lake Claire is more than just a destination; it’s an experience that stays long after you leave. The combination of natural beauty, rich wildlife, and the sheer tranquility of its waters make it a breathtaking summer adventure. Whether you’re looking to peacefully fish its waters, canoe its shores, watch the northern lights dance across the midnight sky, or simply disconnect from everyday life, Lake Claire is Alberta’s northern expanse of sky and water. The journey to this remote Albertan wilderness is well worth the effort.

Britanny Burr is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the Great West Media & Southern Alberta Newspapers Hot Summer Guide advertising feature. The Hot Summer Guide is a special feature about summer activities, bucket list adventures, staycation options, road trips, attractions, events, and road trip-worthy food & beverage destinations across Alberta. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.

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