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Abraham Lake
A satellite image if the lake and river
Lake on the North Saskatchewan River
Abraham Lake is located in Alberta
Abraham Lake
Abraham Lake
Location in Alberta
Location Clearwater County, Alberta
Coordinates 52°13′25″N 116°25′38″W / 52.22361°N 116.42722°W / 52.22361; -116.42722
Type Reservoir
Primary inflows North Saskatchewan River
Primary outflows North Saskatchewan River
Basin countries Canada
Max. length 32 km (20 mi)
Max. width 3.3 km (2.1 mi)
Surface area 53.7 km2 (20.7 sq mi)
Surface elevation 1,340 m (4,400 ft)

Abraham Lake, also known as Lake Abraham, is an artificial lake and Alberta's largest reservoir. It is located in the "Kootenay Plains area of the Canadian Rockies' front range", on the North Saskatchewan River in western Alberta, Canada.


Abraham Lake has a surface area of 53.7 km2 (20.7 sq mi) and a length of 32 km (20 mi). Although man-made, the lake has the blue color of other glacial lakes in the Rocky Mountains, which is caused by rock flour as in other glacial lakes.

Abraham Mountain, Elliott Peak, and the Cline River Heliport are located on the western shore of the lake. Mount Michener is situated on the eastern shore. Mount Ernest Ross lies at the southern tip of the lake.


Abraham Lake was created by the former Calgary Power Company, now called TransAlta, in 1972, with the construction of the Bighorn Dam. Planning of the dam involved no evaluation of the social and environmental effects it may have caused and no public hearings were held prior to the construction either. The construction of the Bighorn dam flooded the Kootenay Plains and stopped the livelihood (hunting and fur trapping) of the Bighorn Stoney Indigenous that had lived in that area.  It had flooded their cabins, graves and pastures.

The lake was built on the upper course of the North Saskatchewan River, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, and lines David Thompson Highway between Saskatchewan River Crossing and Nordegg.

The Government of Alberta sponsored a contest to name the lake in February 1972, during the final stages of construction of the Bighorn Dam. Students across the province were asked to submit names taking into consideration "historical significance, prominent persons, geography and topography, and the value of the lake." It was named for Silas Abraham, an inhabitant of the Saskatchewan River valley in the nineteenth century.


Abraham Lake - bubbles
Bubbles on frozen Abraham Lake

Trapped methane causes frozen bubbles to form under the ice on the lake's surface. This phenomenon results when decaying plants on the lake bed release methane gas, which creates bubbles that become trapped within the ice, in suspended animation, just below the surface as the lake begins to freeze. The visual effects formed by the resulting stacks of bubbles, frozen while rising toward the surface, combined with the clear blue water, have made Abraham Lake a popular destination for photographers and nature observers. The ice coverage of the lakes varies throughout the winter. It usually freezes by the end of December but did not freeze until January in 2020.

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