With hockey being our National Pastime, it’s never too early to take Junior out for his or her first skate, and what better place to start than on a real frozen pond or lake! November is a magical month that locals in Canmore and Banff refer to as “Skating Season.” Many of the lakes freeze over but are still snow-free and clear for endless gliding across the teal green ice.
Johnston Lake on the Lake Minnewanka Loop Road outside the Town of Banff is the local favorite and if you time your visit right, you’ll find hundreds of families out for a day of skating from one end of the lake clear across to the other end. We went last year for our first time and the experience was unforgettable.
In the past, I’d always had to stick to the small cleared-off area of Lake Louise or another local pond. To skate across the entire length of a lake, pushing my son in his Chariot™ was surreal. I confess, it was more than a little unnerving as I looked down at the frozen ice under me, seemingly only a few inches thick, with frozen bubbles rising to the surface. There is comfort, however, in knowing that you aren’t alone there if you go on a weekend day and you’ll never be more than a few feet from other people on the lake.
Conditions change on a yearly basis so there is no guarantee the lakes around Banff will freeze before the snow falls and covers the ice. Some years there is no skating season and you’ll have to stick to ponds and lakes that have been cleared by Parks Canada or the Town of Canmore. In years when the weather cooperates, anticipate skating season to occur around mid-November. Last year, we skated on Johnston Lake on Remembrance Day.
Parks Canada has a great page on their website that goes into more detail about skating on the local lakes. It also features specific instructions on how to measure for ice thickness should you happen to find yourself alone at the lake. I highly recommend reading the information before heading out so that you are aware of any and all hazards associated with outdoor ice skating. More information can be found at www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/activ26.aspx. To contact the Banff Information Centre, call 1-403-762-1550.
Other popular skating options in the mountain parks:
The Pond at Kananaskis Village (cleared by Delta Resort staff and open to all visitors. Skate rentals on-site).
The Pond in Canmore (located on 7 Avenue at Mallard Alley two blocks from Main Street, cleared by the Town of Canmore). Note: No hockey sticks allowed on this pond.
The pond behind the Banff Springs Hotel (open December to March).
Lake Louise (cleared area on the lake in front of the Chateau Lake Louise, open from November to April).
For more information on skating in Canmore, visit www.gocanmore.com/canmore-activities-the-pond-ice-skating-rink.html
Tanya loves hiking, camping, skiing and all things mountain-related. Tanya is the author of the blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies, www.rockiesfamilyadventures.com, and the creator of the Calgary Family Adventure Community on Facebook.
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