medicine lake alberta

This picturesque lake in Canada mysteriously vanishes every year

Medicine Lake is the Houdini of Alberta: there one moment, and gone the next.

The stunning glacier lake is located in Jasper National Park, nestled between the Rocky Mountains. Summer visitors can go fly fishing for trout in the 7 kilometre stretch of water.

From May to September, Medicine Lake boasts a glistening, reflective surface — as well as mule deer, wolves, moose, mountain sheep, and even the occasional bear.

But Medicine Lake is famous for more than its beauty — every autumn, the lake completely disappears.

And the weirdest part? There's no visible river or channel for the water to flow out of. The lake is completely contained.

Instead, Medicine Lake has unique sinkholes; the water drains through the bottom of the lake and into a limestone cave system below, eventually surfacing 16 kilometres away in the Maligne Canyon.

Medicine Lake may even have the largest inaccessible cave system anywhere in the world.

Understandably, Indigenous people were once stumped by the phenomenon.

They named the body of water "Medicine Lake" for its seemingly magical powers.

It wasn't until the 1970s that scientists discovered the series of caves below, proving that the water doesn't vanish — it just gets backed up temporarily, like a bathtub with a clogged drain.

Today, visitors can stay at the Medicine Lake Campground from May to October to see the unique lake for themselves.

Lead photo by

Dennis Flarsen

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