Are you thinking about going to Great Slave Lake but unsure how to make it memorable? Here are 11 great activities, sights, and facts about the lake.
A lake in Canada’s northwest territories, the Great Slave Lake, is the fifth-largest lake in North America and the second-largest lake in Canada. It is 11,030 miles long.
It is the deepest lake in North America at 614 meters. Also, it is a remnant of a vast glacial lake and is said to have been put on the map by the 18th-century fur trade.
Great Slave Lake offers much to a travel enthusiast’s body, mind, and spirit. There are numerous things you can discover and enjoy. Here are a few benefits and advantages of making at least one trip to view the lake in your lifetime.
1. A Rich History
It’s rich in history, from the creation of the Great Slave Lake through the settlers and their archaeological discoveries to the origin of its name.
The lake was first known as “Grand Lac des Esclaves” and was named after the Slavey people of the Dene group. It was then translated into English and called The Great Slave Lake.
It is said that the Indigenous Peoples, who are the Aboriginal Canadians or First Peoples, were the first ones to settle around the lake.
Its cultural history has been enhanced by the discovery of lithic implements from several eras. Some of them date back more than 8000 years.
2) Many Travelers, Many Stories
Since the time of the British period, many enthusiasts have come across the Great Slave Lake and left something, from stories of their experiences to something they found.
There is a legend about a group of people who camped there and even managed to repel a troop of wolves. The authorities validated this story after supporting evidence was discovered. In the 1700s, Samuel Hearne gave it the added name Lake Athapuscow.
Gold was discovered in the early 1900s. Also, the pieces of a nuclear reactor that fell from its orbit fell into the Great Slave Lake.
So, if you are a person who loves to hear stories of the past, don’t think of any other reason to see it.
3. Mackenzie River
The Mackenzie River is a beautiful outflow river of the Great Slave Lake situated in the Canadian boreal forest; the Mackenzie River is the second-largest drainage basin after the Mississippi in North America.
Named after Alexander Mackenzie, the beautiful Mackenzie mountains and Mackenzie Highway is great place to witness the beauty of nature.
This river empties into the Arctic coast. It is believed that the Mackenzie Valley was the path taken by initial migrators from Asia to the northwest territories of America around 10,000 years ago. You can also find arctic grayling here too.
Around the Mackenzie River are numerous settlements, a wealth of natural beauty, fantastic cuisine, and vibrant culture. There is much farmland nearby and the natural resources of oil and metallic minerals like gold, lead, and zinc.
4. Great for Fishing
One of the deepest lakes, Great Slave Lake, is an excellent spot for fishing.
There is a great fishing spot called Taltheilei Narrows on Great Slave Lake. You could find a lodge around here and stay there until your hook finds the most abundant fish.
The lake is said to be the purest and cleanest, and fish are found near the surface area. You can get it all here: northern pike, lake trout, and whitefish.
However, to your advantage, there is light there all day throughout the summer, so you may take full advantage of it when you visit lake trout.
Note: The trout lake becomes a frozen lake for around 4–8 months at certain times of the year. So, you would have to check the fishing time.
5. The Northern Lights
The heavenly and soothing northern lights can be seen at a high altitude. This colorful, dancing and energizing show of lights can be seen in the capital city of Great Slave Lake’s north shore, i.e., Yellowknife’s Bay, Aurora Village.
Yellowknife Bay is the best place to witness these lights worldwide, also known as aurora borealis.
The village named Aurora is precisely for this purpose. You can find varied tours and camps here, indulging in many other activities.
You must visit here from August to April. This will be the most beautiful fuel for your experience-hungry soul. Contact the Dept. of Northern Affairs and National Resources if you have any questions.
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6. Thaine-Nene National Park
This is a newly established national park. It officially became a national park in August 2019, which was decided to be created in 2002. You are sure to enjoy flora and fauna together here.
On the eastern shores, reach Great Slave Lake, and on the north shore of the boreal forest is located the Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve.
This national park works for the protection of caribou and pelt animals. Here you might find wild boar, wolf, red fox, arctic fox, beaver, grizzly bear, and others.
You can also witness ducks, songbirds, and other migratory birds.
7. The Rocky History
More than history, it’s the age of the rocks found here. The Great Slave Lake is located between the ancient stones, also known as the Canadian Shield. These are metamorphic rocks.
The southern and eastern shores of the lake house the rocks, which are 2.7 billion years old. Even after all these years, these rocks remain as tall and robust as ever.
This fact sure excites the traveler inside to witness the beauty of the Great Slave Lake.
8. The Beautiful Ice Road
Wouldn’t it be amazing to ski on this ice road formed above the naturally frozen water?
Passing through this ice road would make you wonder about nature’s magic during winters. Its ability to reduce or increase humanity’s troubles can be experienced and considered.
The Dettah Ice Road connects the capital city of Great Slave Lake, Yellowknife, to Dettah, a small First Nations fishing community.
The area freezes during winter times to ease transportation. This ice road’s usual 27 kilometers of drive is shortened to 6.5 kilometers.
9. The House Boaters
Experiencing life on houseboats very quickly is one thing that people should not miss in the Great Slave Lake. There is a community of houseboats in Yellowknife, i.e., people living their daily lives on houseboats.
The city has been growing, and many families live in these floating homes. The line of colorful houseboats is a spectacular sight, and boat tours offer glimpses of these homes.
In winter, when glacial ice roads are formed on the Great Slave River Lake, it provides a direct path to the entrance of such homes.
10. Incredible Sites
Surrounding the lake, you can find beautiful sites.
- The locals of Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Resolution, and others are very cheerful and helpful in guiding you to the best spots with breathtaking views.
- The east arm of the Great Slave Lake area is said to be a magnificent wilderness. You can have a good time here, camping and fishing in the freshwater, Renting a boat and exploring the sights is also a good idea.
- It is a great place to go if you desire a tranquil trip without constant cell phone buzzing and message delivery. Camping, freshwater fishing, boat renting, and sightseeing to places like the Canadian Shield are all enjoyable activities you can indulge in here.
11. North Arm Territorial Park
It is located on the frontier highway of Great Slave Lake; this territorial park serves as a great one-day picnic spot.
This park has a large waterfront beach, lush green lawns, picnic tables, fire pits, playgrounds, and toilets. It can also be a rest stop from all your roaming around.
You can take in the vastness of the Great Slave Lake by standing on the North Arm Territorial Park shore. The beach is immaculate and tranquil. You would love to have a dip in it and enjoy the freshness of the water supply.
The children can be kept busy in the playground area. So, a great spot to turn the Great Slave Tour into a fun picnic.
12. Lodging; Choose Among the Best
Like the Great Slave Lake, a hostel is perfect for fishing in protected water.
There is an availability of many lodges nearby Great Slave Lake. Above that, each of the lodges has its beauty and experience.
Some other lodges offer beautiful sights and facilities. Even the trophy lake trout are mostly caught here.
You can also find places offering freshly caught fish cooked and presented on your platter. These lodges make your trip comfortable, memorable, and secure.
They provide traveling and sightseeing packages, which you must not forget to book before your actual trip, as most get packed up quickly for the season.
One of the most recommended ones is Frontier Lodge, right here.
13. Historic Fort Reliance
A very ancient Fort Reliance is situated at the eastern end of the Great Slave Lake, near the Lockhart River.
This fort is believed to have been built as a site for winter around the 19th century. It is back from the shoreline near the tree line and a lush green terrace.
At this site, you can find four chimneys and fireplaces. There are also traces of cabins, rubble piles, and shallow pits.
There is a vast history behind the building and rebuilding of this old fort providence. Alexander Roderick McLeod, a part of the Hudson Bay Company, for a specific expedition built Fort McLeod.
Fort Providence served as a base for various operations back in 1833. The fort was abandoned by the end of the team in 1835; however, during the 1850’s it was rebuilt as the Hudson’s Bay Company Post.
The remnants found at this place are considered unique relics of history, making it a great reason to visit Great Slave Lake.
14. Kayaking Adventures
In the North Arm of the Great Slave Lake, you can enjoy kayaking expeditions in the wilderness of the lake. You can plan the sea kayak expedition around the Aurora season.
As the north arm of the Great Slave Lake lies precisely in the magnetic field of the Aurora Belt, sea-level kayaking will lead you to the beauty of the northern lights.
Paddling through the north arm will bring you far from the digital world. You would welcome the dominant historical, spiritual, and cultural significance through the northern arm.
As per the experience of the kayaks, the north arm is a paradise of unseen and unexplored islands carved from the glaciers.
It is a land of legends and learning. Get your spirits up and embrace the adventure.
15. Lots of Festivals And Celebrations
Thanks to its Great Slave Lake’s position in the Western Canadian Arctic Ocean, its unique festivals are of great zeal.
- The Hay River Annual Pond Hockey is a very famous festival. It is one of the most excellent shows on the ice. People of the town gather at the center of the festival, full of food vendors, local musicians, games, hockey players taking up the floor, and a lot more.
- Yellowknife residents enjoy the Long John Jamboree. The Long John Jamboree is often a three-day festival with activities like an ice-carving competition, live music, and vendors hosted on Yellowknife Bay each March. A group of volunteers established it in 2012 and continued the long-standing Caribou Carnival tradition from Yellowknife.
- The SnowKing Winter Festival is also worth visiting. Each year, the snow castle flourishes a little. You should hear the story about it from the locals.
A lot of aircraft activity can also be seen on Great Slave Lake. You could witness floatplanes, enjoy quiet sailing, and energize yourself.
Learn more about the details of going to the Great Slave Lake here. You can see how exciting and thrilling the Great Slave Lake visit can be for you.
A full pack of each kind of experience waits for you in Great Slave Lake. Do share it if you know of any local peculiarities to the site. What are the other places and activities around the Great Slave Lake?
Frequently Asked Questions
1, Is it a good place for animals and bird watching?
Yes, it is a very happening place. The Great Slave Lake also serves a varied palette of ecology.
Here you could spot wild boars, zillions of birds, shorebirds, songbirds, caribou, and bison.
Also, the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary is famous for holding the largest wood bison herd in the world.
2, What is the origin of the word “slave”?
The town and the great bear lake are the First Nations’ names.
The inhabitants are Athabaskan. At least not to one most are familiar with. There is no connection between the name “Slave,” more frequently spelled “slavey,” and slavery.
The lake is named after a group of Athabaskan-speaking Indians of Canada who originally lived along the western shores of Great Slave Lake, in the Mackenzie (named for Scottish explorer Alexander Mackenzie) and Liard rivers and other nearby riverine basins and forested areas. They were also known as Slavey, Awokanak, or Etchareottine self-name Dene Tha’.
The Cree, who frequently plundered and enslaved huge numbers of them, gave them the name Awokanak, which means “enslaved person.” As a result of the enslaved person’s widespread reputation for shyness or lack of confidence, this appellation became one that the French and English frequently used.
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