Great Slave Lake, NT
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Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada

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Great Slave Lake is the fifth-largest lake (by acreage) in North America and, following Great Bear Lake, is the second-largest in Canada. A natural lake, it is located in south-central Northwest Territories (NWT). Great Slave Lake is just south of the Arctic Circle and completely frozen five and a half months out of the year. With an area of nearly 7 million acres and more islands than can be named, Great Slave Lake is an outdoor utopia for visitors who seek the peace and quiet of a large, beautiful, mostly untouched lake. The area was explored by Samuel Hearne in 1771 who initially named the lake Lake Athupuscow. The city of Yellowknife was started in 1935 with gold being discovered; in 1967 it became the capital of the Northwest Territories. With gold mining petering out, Yellowknife grew as a government center and now is growing again with the discovery of diamonds.

As is Great Bear Lake (see Lakelubbers), pre-glacial valleys formed the bottom of Great Slave Lake. Its west side is mostly forested wilderness, and the north and east arms join with the barren tundra. At a maximum depth of over 2000 feet, Great Slave Lake is the deepest lake in North America. It is irregular in shape, almost 300 miles long, and 12 to almost 70 miles wide. Great Slave Lake water is a pristine lake environment. Great Slave Lake's sources are numerous streams and rivers including Hay, Yellowknife, Snare, Beaulieu, Emile, Snowdrift and the Taltson. The Lake drains into the Mackenzie River.

The Great Slave Lake area affords a wonderful boating milieu for kayakers, canoeists and sailing enthusiasts. As one might expect on a lake surrounded by wilderness, there are multitudes of inlets, islands and quiet bays to try. Imagine luxuriating in the quiet outdoors. Sport fishing is super with trophy size lake trout, artic grayling, northern pike and whitefish the main attractions. Ice fishing expeditions are frequent, again with trophy size catches for the avid angler. None of the guides take a vacation during the winter and offer dog team tours, snowmobiling across the vast expanses of ice. There are a number of geocaches around Yellowknife for the intrepid 'cacher' - anyone visiting should try these for an unusual 'find'.

Great Slave Lake wildlife viewing is great; caribou, musk ox, black bear, and bald eagles are to be spotted on most any excursion. The most beautiful Northern Lights displays are standout experiences. A trip to one of the remote lodges from November to April (prime viewing time for the Aurora Borealis viewing) is highly recommended - a meal of musk ox is a unique experience.

The wilderness setting of Great Slave Lake provides a spectacular scene in which to participate with the rustic outdoors. A trip there will be an outstanding adventure for anyone.

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Great Slave Lake


  • Vacation Rentals
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Ice Fishing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Boating
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Sailing
  • Birding

Fish Species

  • Grayling
  • Pike
  • Lake Trout
  • Trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Whitefish

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