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

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Bids for Kids poster
Wolf Creek Youth Foundation online auction gets ‘overwhelming’ response

Santa’s Bids for Kids auction to benefit youth programs in Rimbey, Ponoka

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragic milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

Alberta premier Jason Kenney declared a public health state of emergency Tuesday and sweeping new measures as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to rise. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Kenney declares state of public health emergency as COVID-19 cases rise

High schools shift to online learning, businesses face new restrictions

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council asks for a mask bylaw to be brought forward for consideration

The bylaw would require face coverings in all indoor Town-owned and operated facilities

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Dr. Hurst says it’s best to frame the conversation from a place of care, stressing safety precautions.

A sign instructs people to wear masks in downtown Calgary on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Pub and restaurant owners are trying to figure out how to comply with a stricter COVID-19 measure in Alberta that dictates only six people from the same household can sit at one table. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Brewpub owner pleased Alberta not closing sit-down dining as COVID-19 cases soar

Alberta’s caseload of COVID-19 infections has been growing for weeks

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at B.C. campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

A pedestrian wears masks while out walking in front of the Alberta Legislature as the COVID-19 numbers spike in Edmonton on Tuesday November 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Doctor says Alberta restrictions not enough to reduceCOVID-19 strain on hospitals

Mithani notes people are still allowed to gather indoors at large places of worship and in bars,

Most Read