Directions: Exit Edmonton on Hwy 2 south and take exit 405B to Hwy 11A west toward Sylvan Lake.

Distance: 163 km, or about 1 hour and 50 minutes, from Edmonton.


Known by a number of names, including Snake Lake and Swan Lake, Sylvan Lake’s final name comes from the Latin word sylvanus, meaning “of a forest.” The first settlers came in 1899, and by 1904 the lakeshore already looked like a summer resort with a hotel, store, post office, and cottages.

In the heart of the town of Sylvan Lake, the provincial park offers day-use recreation on its 1.6-kilometre beach one of Alberta’s longest stretches of sandy shoreline. More than one million visitors come here every year perhaps because the town and lake offer something to please all ages, and this includes every water sport imaginable, with boats, Jet Skis, and charters available for rent. For an extra-refreshing outdoor thrill, visit Wild Rapids Waterslides, western Canada’s largest outdoor waterslide park (403-887-3800). Non-swimmers will enjoy the many shops and ice-cream parlours across from the beach.

Sylvan Lake hosts numerous annual events, including a Half Iron Triathlon (July), 1913 Days (June), Shake the Lake Music Festival (August), and Jazz at the Lake (August). Visit in the autumn to experience Fall Fest (September), Eco Loco (September), and Spooktacular (October). Winter visitors wanting time outdoors can check out the popular Polar Dip during the February Winterfest or the annual Pond Hockey Tournament (March).

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