6 best natural swimming spots in Alberta to take a dip at this summer

Jun 26 2020, 11:00 am

COVID-19 still presents a very real and dangerous threat to public health. While much of Alberta’s outdoors have been reopened to visitors, it is recommended to plan ahead, check local restrictions, and avoid any areas that may be too crowded. 

It’s starting to get quite a bit warmer in Alberta as we head into the bulk of summer, and with COVID-19 shutting down most swimming pools, Albertans are setting their sights on the expansive nature that is their own backyard to cool off.

We may not have the same options that BC does when it comes to natural swimming spots seeing as we’re a landlocked province, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any sandy beaches, cool (but not too cold!) waters, and awesome lakes to check out.

We’ve collected a few of the best spots to take a dip in this summer into one list, and while a few of these will take a couple of hours to get to by car, we know it will be more than worth the trip.

Plus, who doesn’t love an impromptu summer road trip now and then?

Pigeon Lake

 

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Pop over to Pigeon Lake for a sandy beach complete with marked swimming areas, a concession, and bathrooms. You may even see some pigeons.

  • Where is it: Just west of Wetaskiwin, 100 km south of Edmonton
  • Distance from Calgary: 250 km
  • Distance from Edmonton: 108 km

Sylvan Lake

 

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This is one of Alberta’s go-to lakes during the summer, and for good reason. The clear, shallow waters are much warmer than the lakes you’d find up in the Rockies (don’t worry though, we’re getting to those soon), though the trade-off is that you’ll be competing with what seems like half the province for a spot on the beach — especially with physical distancing requirements in place.

  • Where is it: Sylvan Lake
  • Distance from Calgary: 159 km
  • Distance from Edmonton: 162 km

Quarry Lake

 

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Quarry Lake is more of a swimming hole than a traditional lake, but that allows for the water temperature to be slightly less freezing in comparison to its neighbour lakes that are glacial fed and painfully cold. This makes for a great place to spend a hot summer day.

  • Where is it: Canmore
  • Distance from Calgary: 104 km
  • Distance from Edmonton: 391 km

Chestermere Lake

 

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Proximity makes this lake a sure bet. It’s only a 20-minute drive from Calgary, so it’s perfect for those late afternoons when you decide last minute to get out into the sun.

  • Where is it: Chestermere
  • Distance from Calgary: 22 km
  • Distance from Edmonton: 306 km

Horseshoe Lake

 

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Horseshoe Lake features, unsurprisingly, a lake shaped like a horseshoe. The waters are cold — you’re in the Rocky Mountains, after all — but make for a perfect place to cool off, or just float around on.

The lake is also a popular spot for cliff jumping, with various natural platforms reaching as high as 80 feet… though we’ll just stick to ground level, thank you very much.

  • Where is it: Jasper
  • Distance from Calgary: 545 km
  • Distance from Edmonton: 392 km

Castle Falls

 

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Once you make the drive to the BC-Alberta border, you can park at the Castle Falls campground, grab your fishing gear — or bathing suit — and head over to the falls, where you can make a spectacular splash.

If you aren’t quite the active type, no worries. The falls are lined with smooth layered rocks that make for perfect lounging material.

  • Where is it: Just east of Pincher Creek
  • Distance from Calgary: 246 km
  • Distance from Edmonton: 528 km
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