Cold Lake, located near the provincial border of Alberta-Saskatchewan, Canada, is sparsely populated, consisting primarily of farm land and forested regions. The growth of the economy is attributed to military spending at Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, also known as CFB. CFB is one of two military bases in the country utilizing sophisticated CF-18 Flornet fighter/interceptor aircraft, used in the defense of the western half of Canadian air space and the expansive arctic territory. Each year Cold Lake hosts military forces from around the world for Exercise Maple Flag, an extensive training program designed for pilots and personnel of NATO allies. The program, which begins in May, lasts between four to six weeks. The event is open to visitors for viewing sophisticated military aircraft and manuevers conducted in rural air spaces. The program contributes significant income to the hotel and hospitality industries in the region, as most accommodations are booked during the month of May.
Cold Lake offers a wealth of summer and winter outdoor recreational activities, many of which are centered around the dazzling waters of the lake that borders the city. Visitors are attracted to water sports activities, such as canoeing, kayaking, sailing, pleasure boating and fishing. Home to approximately 25 known species of fish, the lake provides outstanding fishing opportunities year around. There are several first-class campgrounds in the area, including Cold Lake Provincial Park, which offers spacious camp sites in a partially secluded lakeside area with access to a wilderness hiking trail system, a private beach and several boat launching areas. The M.D. Campground, with spectacular views of the lake and surrounding forest lands, includes a large covered picnic area with outdoor cooking facilities. Kinosoo Beach, which spans approximately three city blocks, is a splendid area for relaxation, sunbathing and swimming.
Hiking trails are abundant, vary in length, and are graded according to difficulty. The Iron Horse Trail is a multi-purpose trail that traverses through mixed forests and farm lands. Winding along rivers, waterfalls and lakes, the trail is popular for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding during the summer season, and for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling during the winter season. The Millennium Trail is a paved, multi-purpose trail, ideal for mountain biking, hiking and rollerblading in the summer. It is perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. The African Lake Trail, one of the most rugged in the area, is an un-groomed, narrow trail that spirals through a densely forested area, leading to Cold Lake Provincial Park.
Although many visitors choose camping at Cold Lake, several accommodations are available, including small hotels, bed and breakfast inns and short-term rentals. The Hamilton House Bed & Breakfast Inn, situated on five acres, surrounded by spacious lawns and colorful flower gardens, is one of the most popular in the area. Other charming inns include the Villa on the Hill Bed & Breakfast, the Harbour House Bed & Breakfast Inn and the Lakeshore Inn.
The Cold Lake recreational region includes two spectacular golf courses, the Palm Springs Golf Club and the Grand Centre Golf & Country Club. Both courses feature manicured greens, water hazards and sand traps. Cold Lake is a marvelous holiday getaway for outdoor enthusiasts of every type. The summer months are warm and sunny, perfect for hiking, mountain biking, walking, swimming, golfing, fishing, and water sports activities. Transformed into a spectacular wonderland of icy waterways and dazzling white forest trails, the winter season is perfectly suited for cross country skiing, winter hiking, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. When the frigid cold climate begins, the ice-encrusted lake becomes a sweeping outdoor rink, ideal for figure skating, ice hockey and ice fishing. Cold Lake is one of the few wilderness areas in Canada amenable to outdoor activities spanning all seasons.