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Sights & Scenes of Canada

Photo Focus: Lake Abraham, Alberta

by Janann Blanchard & Peter Kessler, 28 October 2023

 

Lake Abraham in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Alberta
Photo © Janann Blanchard

Located within the Canadian Rockies, Lake Abraham (or Abraham Lake) is man-made.

It was created in 1972 as part of the process of building the Bighorn Dam. The lake was added along the upper course of the North Saskatchewan River, with it running alongside the David Thompson Highway (Alberta Provincial Highway No 11, which connects Banff National Park with Red Deer).

Lake Abraham in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Alberta
Photo © Janann Blanchard

The lake has a surface area of 53.7 kilometres squared and a length of thirty-two kilometres, making it one of the largest lakes in Alberta and the largest reservoir in the province.

While the lake is not in Banff National Park, or Jasper National Park to its north, it's not far from either of them. Abraham Mountain, Mount Michener, Mount Ernest Ross, and Elliot Peak all surround it.

The closest town is Nordegg, about forty kilometres away to the east, in the direction of Edmonton. This small town has two gas stations, a restaurant, and just a few accommodation options.

Lake Abraham in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Alberta
Photo © Janann Blanchard

With a deep blue colouring which is typical of glacial lakes in the Canadian Rockies, the lake is a popular place to visit both in summer and winter. This is at least partially due to the quite amazing volume of methane ice bubbles which are locked away in its clear ice during the winter months.

These can usually be seen in a frozen state between December and March, something which happens in many other lakes in the Canadian Rockies, but they are very prominent here.

Lake Abraham in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Alberta
Photo © Janann Blanchard

The methane is trapped when organic matter such as dead plants and animals sinks to the lake's bottom. When this matter decomposes, it releases methane gas which then rises to the top. As the lake begins to freeze, the bubbles are trapped and are stacked on top of each other.

This creates unique formations of ice bubbles in the winter. When spring rolls around and the ice melts, the methane gas is released into the atmosphere.

The visuals of these frozen ice bubbles have people visiting from around the world. However, the lake is exceptionally windy all year-round, meaning that visitors should wrap up well!.

 

All photos by Janann Blanchard, taken in February 2022.

Main Sources

The Banff Blog

Travel Alberta

 

Images and text copyright © Janann Blanchard & P L Kessler except where stated. An original feature for the History Files.