- 1 Bonnyville − pop. 6,000; located on the north shore of Jessie Lake, close to Moose Lake and Muriel Lake.
- 2 Cold Lake − pop. 15,000; largest population centre in the region, situated on the southwestern shore its namesake lake.
- 3 Elk Point − pop. 1,500; situated near the North Saskatchewan River with historical sites nearby.
- 4 Lac La Biche − pop. 2,500; situated on the southeastern shore its namesake lake.
- 5 St. Paul − pop. 6,650; situated near Upper and Lower Thérien Lake.
- 1 Lakeland Provincial Park and Recreation Area — contains numerous lakes; hiking and canoeing can be combined in a back country canoe circuit
- 2 Moose Lake Provincial Park — power boating, sailing, swimming, water-skiing, windsurfing, camping, canoeing/kayaking, and fishing.
- 3 Whitney Lakes Provincial Park — has an extensive hikingbtrail system that connects five lakes
- 4 Cold Lake Provincial Park — boreal forest onn the shores of Cold Lake, with many recreational activities
The region lies on transition between vast forests to the north and agricultural lands to the south. The economy is heavily tied to natural resources, especially petroleum drilling. Tourism matters as well, though it is almost entirely of the local kind; this region isn't well known outside of Alberta, never mind outside of Canada. The lakes make it a popular destination for other Albertans, since they are deeper, colder, and less polluted with "agricultural runoff" (mostly chemical fertilizer, some cow excrement) than those further south in Alberta, and are therefore less likely to develop toxic algae blooms.
The multicultural history of this region includes strong Cree (indigenous), Métis, French, and Ukrainian influences. This is one of the few parts of Alberta where you might actually hear French on the street, for example in the village of Plamondon. Coincidentally, there is also a Russian-speaking religious community in the Plamondon area.
That multicultural mix has not always been a peaceful one; the region experienced violence and tragedy during the Northwest Resistance of 1885, when nine white settlers were killed by a Cree war party at Frog Lake. In the aftermath, First Nations were confined to their reserves by the "pass system" for decades.
The nearest major airport is nearly 3½ hours away at Edmonton. Lloydminster Airport is much closer, but only has flights to Calgary 6 times per week (i.e. daily except for Saturdays) as of January 2020. Cold Shot offers some intercity bus service from Edmonton.
There is no public transit here, and a private vehicle is necessary to reach any of the lakes or campgrounds.
There is one long-distance multi-use trail, the Iron Horse Trail (part of the larger Trans Canada Trail). It's a Y-shaped trail with termini in 1 Waskatenau, 2 Heinsburg, and 3 Cold Lake. Since this is a former rail line, the "sidings" (villages) are all about 7 miles (11 km) apart; the problem being that many of these towns are too small to have any accommodations or services whatsoever. Plan to camp or have a chaser car.
Cold Lake Museum, in a former radar squadron facility, is a relic from the era of the Cold War. Cold Lake Museum explains the four broad themes of history in the community: Indigenous, pioneer, military and oil & gas.
The Cold Lake Airshow, held in early August, displays airplanes of all variations overhead.
Lac La Biche Mission has several historical buildings, antique and photo displays, and an interpretive centre.
The UFO Landing Pad in St. Paul was built in 1967 to attract tourists and Martians to the municipality.
Fort George and Buckingham House were fur-trading posts near Elk Point. A guided walk will take you through the forests where these forts stood.
- Backcountry canoe circuit (Lakeland Provincial Park), Jackson Lake Staging Area (Highway 663, east of Lac La Biche), ☏ . Four lakes connected with short portage trails, with "canoe carts" available to ease the load (the only such circuit in Alberta). You must provide your own canoe or rent one from Lakeland Expeditions. There are no road-accessible campgrounds in the Provincial Park, but there are 16 designated backcountry camping areas in Lakeland Provincial Park. Additionally there are 4 frontcountry and 5 backcountry camping areas in the adjacent Lakeland Provincial Recreation Area. Random backcountry camping is not permitted in Lakeland.
Cold Lake hosts several festivals. The Silver Buckle Stampede in June is on the Canadian rodeo circuit. Aqua Days in August features pancake breakfasts, sandcastle building, fireworks and other family fun. The Call of the Wild French Horn Festival in September attacts some of the most accomplished French horn players from North America.
Each of the towns has a golf course.
Farmers' markets can be found at:
- Bonnyville – Centennial Centre. Sa 11AM-2PM year round ☏
- Cold Lake – Agriplex, Jun – Dec: Th 3–9PM. ☏
- Elk Point – United Church, Apr – Dec: F 11AM–3PM. ☏
- Lac La Biche – Agricom, Apr 3 – Oct 30: F 3-5PM. ☏
- Long Lake Provincial Park – Day Use Area II off Hwy. 831 (S of Boyle) Jun-Aug: Sa 11AM-2PM. ☏
Cheap (or free) internet is available at virtually every public library in Alberta.