Located approximately 2 hours northeast of Edmonton, Lac La Biche is an outdoor adventurers playground. Home to vast wilderness, provincial parks, and beautiful lakes, it’s a great place to get out and see the dark sky, search for wildlife and birds, spend the night in a cabin, or enjoy the vast network of trails via hiking, quadding, or snowmobiling.
It’s also home to some unique communities that make it a very diverse place. Some of these communities include the First Nations Peoples, one of the largest Lebanese populations per capita in the province, a large French population, and a range of others, including the “white Russians” that fled during the communist era.
Whether you’re looking to explore the outdoors or visit an incredible indigenous art gallery, Lac La Biche is an off-the-beaten-track destination that is full of cool things to do. In this travel guide, we’ll share with you some of the best things to do in the Lac La Biche region, as well as where to stay, where to eat, and more!
Did you know?
- David Thompson was the first known European to set foot on the shores of Lac La Biche on October 4th, 1798.
- Lac La Biche is the second oldest established community in Alberta
- It is also one of the oldest Metis Communities in Western Canada
- It has the highest percentage of Lebanese people per capita in Alberta
Getting to Lac La Biche
The best way to get to Lac La Biche would be to drive. The closest major airport is the Edmonton International Airport. There is no public transportation so driving is practically the only way. Lac La Biche is not your standard tourist destination like Banff and Jasper, but for those wanting to escape the crowds and explore an off-the-beaten-track destination, this is a great spot to go.
Lac La Biche is located about 215 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, Alberta. It is also 150 kilometres west of Cold Lake and the Saskatchewan border.
Although the big lake that surrounds the town is called Lac La Biche, it is also the name for both the town and the region, which encompasses a number of other small communities, such as Plamondon and Owl River. When referring to the region itself, it is simply the Lac La Biche region.
Flying into Edmonton? Check out our guide for the best things to do in Edmonton!
Best Time to Visit Lac La Biche
Like most of Canada, the best time is typically the summer months between June and September. However, the best time to visit largely depends on what you want to do. If you want nice weather and lots of activities, not to mention the ability to enjoy the lakes, then the summer is the best time. If you’re looking to explore a vast network of snowmobile trails or perhaps go ice fishing, then the winter would be the best time. The fall is also nice, but the weather is much more unpredictable. The spring is typically rainy, but if you’re wanting to see migrating birds, this might be the optimal time to visit.
Things to Do in Lac La Biche, Alberta
Below are some of the best things to do in the Lac La Biche region, which includes the town of Lac La Biche and the other towns it encompasses. Although everything is quite spread out, it’s easily manageable with your own vehicle.
Lac La Biche (the lake)
If there’s one thing you can’t miss while visiting Lac La Biche, it’s the lake itself. Lac La Biche is a large, scenic lake that is known for its excellent beaches and well-forested parks and shoreland areas. It’s a huge lake that is great for fishing, boating, kayaking, and so much more. For those into fishing, you’ll find Lake Trout, Northern Pike, Perch, Whitefish and Burbot.
Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park
Jetting out into Lac La Biche lake like a peninsula, Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park is a beautiful slice of nature. It’s an excellent place to go bird watching or for a hike, but it’s also a good place for camping, with 72 campsites suited for both RV’s and tents. You’ll also find group camping, a sandy beach, picnic tables, showers, electricity, swimming areas, playgrounds, an amphitheatre, and more. For those into bird watching, at least 224 of the approximate 330 Alberta bird species have been observed here. There’s also Pelican Point, which is a good place to see pelicans hanging out in the lake. Night skies here rank 3-4 on the Bortle Scale, making it a great place to see the stars!
Museum of Aboriginal Peoples’ Art and Artifacts
Of all the things we did in Lac La Biche that were indoors, this was the most memorable. Not only did we get to see some of the most beautiful Indigenous fine art you’ll ever encounter, but we also got to learn about the Group of 7, a group of seven world-famous indigenous artists by the names of Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, Alex Janvier, Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, Carl Ray and Joseph Sanchez. The group started with a small circle of artists who were dissatisfied and frustrated at the lack of exhibition opportunities for Aboriginal art within the contemporary gallery system, but their interests quickly matured into a critique of prevailing assumptions, then common in Canada, about Aboriginal peoples and their art.
This museum is located within Portage College, is free to visit, and can be done by guided tour (arranged in advance) or self-guided. The stories behind the artwork, the stores behind the artists, and the art itself is exquisite. We’d love to go back.
Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre
If you’re looking to do some unique shopping, the Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre has a little shop specializing in selling indigenous goods. We picked up some handmade soap, hand sanitizer, and a necklace during our visit. Proceeds help support what they do for the youth in the area.
Lac La Biche Museum & Visitor Information Centre
For those looking for a first-stop in Lac La Biche, perhaps it makes sense to visit the Lac La Biche Museum & Visitor Information Centre. Not only is it a good opportunity to find out about tourism in the area, but you can also spend time at the museum learning about the history of Lac La Biche, including the First Nations Peoples that call it home, the Metis and pioneers of the area, the wildlife, flora, and fauna, and the multicultural society it is today.
Lac La Biche Mission Historical Society
Located just 12 minutes away from the main town, the Lac La Biche Mission Historical Society is one of the oldest communities in Alberta. Established in 1853 on the scenic shores of Lac La Biche Lake, this 45-acre site includes several restored historical buildings and an interpretive centre. It’s both a national historic site and a provincial historic site and was home to a convent that was used as both a residential school and as a mission for European residents. It was one of the first Albertan sites for exchanges between the Indigenous, Metis, Francophone and Anglophone populations.
Plamondon & District Museum
As a town founded by french pioneers from both Quebec and Michigan back in the early 1900s, this is a great place to learn all about that migration. There are many Plamondon’s still living in the area and it’s really interesting to learn about why the town was founded back in the day.
Mini Parc Heritage Park
While in Plamondon, you can’t miss a visit to the Mini Parc Heritage Park. Created by the granddaughter of the actual founder of Plamondon (Joseph Plamondon), she set out to recreate miniature replica buildings of the original town. You’ll find an old church, some old homes, the main store, the school, a traditional trappers cabin, and so much more. It quite interesting to get a tour from the granddaughter herself and it’s quite cool what they’ve done. Everything has been built by volunteers, oftentimes from the grandchildren of the people who owned the original buildings.
Spend the Night at Elinor Lake
We love nature more than anything and so one of our favourite activities was spending a night on Elinor Lake with Off Road Adventures. Not only do they organize quadding tours (see below) but they’ve also created this glamping experience on a secluded piece of land along Elinor Lake. Accessible by a short boat ride, they’ll take you out there and take care of everything else. Our walled tent was heated by wood stove, we had delicious stew cooked for us at night, and even the bathroom is heated by wood fire. It truly is a luxurious and rustic experience. We had only one night but it would be a great place to go fishing, paddle-boarding, kayaking, canoeing, or simply just admiring the stars at night.
Another fun activity we did with Off Road Adventures was going on an all-day ATV tour through the beautiful Lakeland Provincial Recreation Area. They brought us about 20 kilometres into the wilderness, driving the ATV’s through puddles and over bridges. We saw plenty of moose tracks along the way and stopped at Dabs Lake for a short canoe ride and a delicious lunch. Whether you’ve been on a quad before or not, this is a really great adventure into the beautiful boreal forest of Alberta.
Visit Métis Crossing
Although the Métis Crossing is not technically part of the Lac La Biche region, it’s close enough that we can recommend visiting while there. Alberta’s first major Métis cultural interpretive destination is also the first of its kind in the country, as its also hosted on Métis land. It’s a wonderful place to learn all about Métis culture, tour historical homes, grab some lunch, or shoot some archery. In fact, you can even go camping there!
Sitting on 512 acres of land, including original lot titles owned since the late 1800s, this is a wonderful place to enjoy Métis cultural experiences. We had a guided tour to learn about how they hunted and how they lived, as well as the prejudice and racism they had to endure with the Europeans. We also had a delicious lunch with candied rainbow trout and admired the North Saskatchewan River flowing right by the property.
We also learned that they have some big plans for 2021, including a big beautiful lodge and a grand opening that will be unlike no other.
Hideaway Adventure Grounds
If you’re looking for a unique camping experience, Hideaway Adventure Grounds is a great option. Located within the Kikino Metis Settlement (just 40 minutes south of Lac La Biche), they offer back-to-the-basics, self-contained camping. No power, no water, and no wifi, but they make it up with incredible stargazing and the sounds of the forest. During our visit, we were supposed to spend the night but ran out of time. However, we toured the walled tent we were supposed to stay in and it’s quite luxurious. It had a nice bed and a kerosene-heated stove. There’s also empty campgrounds for those wanting to pitch their own tent.
What’s extra special about this place is that it’s owned by John Ritchie, a friendly Métis man with a lot of heart. Not only does he offer camping, but he also provides all sorts of experiences, including learning how to build a shelter, how to find food and water, how to perfect your fire building techniques, and how to cook on an open fire and use traditional tools. You can even learn how to make a pouch! That’s what we did!
Whether you’re looking to spend a quiet night or two or looking for a full-on experience into Métis People and survival skills, this is a beautiful place to visit.
Oh, and as a bonus, John’s dog Buddy is the friendliest dog we’ve ever met.
Where to Eat in Lac La Biche
While you certainly won’t find an array of restaurants as you would in a city or tourist hotspot, there’s more than enough to satisfy your tastebuds for a few days. Most restaurants are located within the town of Lac La Biche, but I’m sure there are other local delights in the smaller communities as well.
LaBone’s Kitchen & Bar
While the interior is nothing to admire (it looks like a sports pub), they do cook up a delicious steak. We tried both the New York Striploin as well as the Sirloin and they were both delicious. In fact, they were as good as the steaks we’ve had at places like the Keg. They also have pub food that looked quite good as well, such as hamburgers and a variety of appetizers. This is probably the most varied menu in town and while it may look like your average pub, the food is very good.
The Cafe on Main
If you’re looking for coffee, bubble tea, an incredible array of sweet desserts, or some delicious Lebanese cuisine, this is the place to go. You’d never think of it as a hotspot for Lebanese food, but we had quite the feasts on Kibbeh, Hummus, Tabbouleh, and Fattoush. We also had a mocha, a mocha bubble tea, and tried a few of their desserts. Needless to say, we were stuffed.
Fat Unicorn Brewery and Tap and Grill
Not only is this the only brewery in the region, but they also serve up a tasty menu, including things like Poutine, burgers, and boneless chicken wings, but also some unique options like Siberian Dumplings! Wash it down with some of their own beers such as the Dirty Blonde, Naughty Amber, and Cossack Imperial.
From Scratch Cafe
Unfortunately, we did not make it here as we only found out about it on our last day. As of September 2020, it was the newest restaurant in town and as far as we know, the ONLY place open for breakfast from 6 am other than A&W. Had we known about it, I would have much rathered eat here than at A&W every day, but it is what it is. They are only open from 6 AM – 2 PM, so if you’re looking for breakfast or lunch, this could be a good option.
The restaurants mentioned above are the ones we tried or the new local options. There are other options as well, especially for pizza and Chinese food, but there are also a few chain restaurants, including Boston Pizza, A&W, KFC, and Subway.
Lac La Biche Hotels
While there certainly isn’t loads of accommodation, there are some decent options for hotels.
Parkland Motels 1 and 2
We stayed at Parkland Motel 2 during our visit and it was fine. It’s a basic motel and was a good stay for our three nights in the region.
This is the highest-ranked hotel in the area. The hotel rooms offer air conditioning, a refrigerator, a kitchenette, and free wifi. Guests have access to a 24-hour front desk, a convenience store, and a hot tub, pool, and free hot breakfast.
Ramada by Wyndham
Ramada is another one of the better hotels in the region, offering a flat-screen TV, a kitchenette, and air conditioning, as well as a 24-hour front desk, convenience store, and free hot breakfast.
Exploring Lac La Biche
As one of the lesser-known areas of Alberta, Lac La Biche is a great place to get away from the crowds and experience something different. It’s especially great for those interested in outdoor adventure and unique small-town history. We hope this guide helps inspire you to visit Lac La Biche.
Looking for more? Check out these articles for more things to do in Alberta:
- Things to Do in Alberta
- Things to Do in Edmonton
- Things to Do in Nordegg
- Things to Do in Sundre
- Things to Do in Calgary