Cold Lake

Cold Lake is a small city of about 15,000 people (2016) in Eastern Alberta, set against the backdrop of one of Alberta’s most beautiful lakes. Home to Canada’s largest air force base, Cold Lake is today the amalgamation of three towns, Cold Lake, Grand Centre and Medley, better known as 4-Wing Cold Lake.

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The city’s economy is inextricably linked to military spending at Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake. The region also supports oil and gas exploration and production. The Athabasca Oil Sands project in Fort McMurray is having a growing influence in the region as well. The Cold Lake oil sands may become a significant contributor to the local economy.

Every year Cold Lake hosts military forces from around the world for Exercise Maple Flag, a training exercise where pilots and support staff of NATO allies can take advantage of the Air Weapons Range and relatively open rural air space. Running from 4 to 6 weeks and starting in May of each year, commercial accommodations in the entire region are left with little to no vacancy.

  • Airfare from Edmonton or Calgary is very expensive.
  • By car, Cold Lake is 3½ hr north and east of Edmonton along Highway 28.
  • Red Arrow, toll-free: + 1-800-232-1958. Red Arrow runs a shuttle M W Th F Su from Ramada Edmonton South 5359 Calgary Trail (4:45PM, $77), Edmonton Downtown 10014 – 104 Street (5:15PM, $77), arriving at Cold Lake Ramada Inn 4005 – 50th Street at (9:10PM) and Circle K/Esso 1414-8th Avenue (9:20PM). By reservation only, pickup can be arranged from Edmonton Airport (YEG, Arrivals Level Courtesy Shuttle Area by door #10) (4:15PM, $98). The return trip to Edmonton leaves M W Th F Su from Cold Lake Circle K/Esso (8AM) and Ramada Inn (8:10AM), and arrives 12:05/12:20 (12:50 at YEG). (updated Apr 2018)
  • Northern Express has trips to Edmonton 4 times per week.

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