VIDEO: Ice skating on Lake Louise a cool alternative to snow sports

‘One of the best times to go … is at sunrise or sunset against the breathtaking mountain backdrop’

Hockey players make the most of the fading daylight as they skate on Lake Louise, Alta., Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Hockey players make the most of the fading daylight as they skate on Lake Louise, Alta., Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Don’t ski? Snowshoeing leaves you cold? How about gliding on the jewel of the Canadian Rockies?

Whether it’s a bluebird day or weather like a shaken snow globe, skating on Lake Louise in Banff National Park is a Canadian postcard experience easily accessible from the visitor parking lot of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

With Victoria Glacier as a backdrop, hockey games spring up organically. Some people just skate around with a hockey stick in their hand for the fun feel of it.

A little lake shinny is irresistible to the world’s top skiers in late November and early December when World Cup downhill races are held across the valley at the ski resort.

In its 2016 list of the “world’s most dramatic water-walking spots,” CNN ranked Lake Louise No. 2 behind the Tower of London Ice Rink and ahead of the Eiffel Tower Ice Rink in Paris at No. 3.

If the surrounding peaks of Temple, White and Niblock weren’t picturesque enough, Lake Louise’s Ice Magic Festival ups the selfie stakes Jan. 17-27 when an ice-castle sculpture adorns the rink.

Weather dictates the length of the skating season at Lake Louise, but from roughly December to April the lake ice nearest the hotel is cleared of snow daily and lit for night skating.

“One of the best times to go skating is at sunrise or sunset against the breathtaking mountain backdrop of Lake Louise,” says Chateau senior manager of marketing James Fraser.

“An even better time to go is in the evening under the stars and moonlight.”

Bring your own skates, hockey sticks and helmets or rent a package. Skate rentals are $20-$30 for adults and $10-$20 for children. A hockey stick is $5. A helmet is complimentary with a full package rental of skating gear.

Be aware Louise’s ice is created by Mother Nature and not in the controlled environment of an hockey arena.

In the event of heavy snowfall, it can be difficult for plows to keep up and there may be rough patches and bumps underneath the snow.

Once the lake surface begins to freeze in the fall, the hotel’s grounds team regularly tests ice thickness.

“They use an ice auger to safely drill through the ice surface and have measuring tools and an ice tracking document to monitor and record the ice thickness at various spots around the lake,” Fraser says.

“The standard measurements are three inches of ice for a single person to walk on it, eleven inches of ice for it to support the machinery to build the ice rinks, and twenty inches of ice for it to support the ice castle that is built every winter, just before Christmas.”

It’s a skater’s bonanza when freezing temperatures provide the requisite ice thickness before the big snows arrive.

Those conditions open up more skating terrain on a lake that reflects the surrounding peaks like a mirror.

READ MORE: Calgary man narrowly escapes from avalanche while running at Lake Louise

“This is a rare occurrence, happening usually once every three or four years” Fraser says. “The conditions have to be just right, and Mother Nature needs to co-operate.”

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

Mascot Super Saver Sam sends a socially-distanced high-five to all Kootenay Savings community partners. As part of Kootenay Savings ongoing commitment to giving back to the Kootenays, through good times and challenging times, the credit union has teamed up with their community-minded employees to distribute $9,500 in donations to 17 non profits.Photo: Kootenay Savings
Kootenay Savings gives a boost to non-profits

Employees at each branch picked a non-profit for a $500 gift

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

A pillar of the Trail community, stonemason Bill Di Domenico recently passed away just shy of his 104th birthday. Here are people walking along the stone bleachers he helped construct at Gyro Park. (date unknown) Photos: Submitted
Paying homage to a cherished Trail stonemason

Guglielmo “Bill” Di Domenico recently passed away just months shy of his 104th birthday

Andy Yoon of Abbotsford receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 24, 2020. As of Feb. 22, 2021, Fraser Health had still not laid out a rollout plan to vaccinate people over 80. (Photo courtesy of Fraser Health)
OPINION: Daughter of 97-year-old Chilliwack man is asking when her father will get vaccinated

While 94% of those over 70 in the UK have had the COVID jab, the nonagenarian from England must wait

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Most Read