Wild ice skating in Banff is on sooo many people’s bucket lists. The aesthetic and the thought of ice skating on a lake surrounded by the mountains in Canada is just such a dream! So, read on for your guide on wild ice skating in Banff – including tips, where to rent gear, and where to skate in Banff National Park.
Tips for Wild Ice Skating in Banff
1. GO EARLY OR ON A WEEKDAY
Ice skating can be a popular activity in the mountains – even though it’s technically the off season. Because of this, a lot of people, locals, and tourists, have the same thing in mind – ice skating! If you’re hoping to have a rink to yourself (or kind of to yourself in the case of Lake Louise) – GO EARLY!! Or sometimes before sunset can be a good time as well. But as the day progresses – especially on a weekend – the lakes start to get pretty crowded.
2. BRING A SHOVEL
The wild skating in Banff that you see on TikTok and Instagram are actually not sharing the whole story. The conditions of a perfect, clear, and clean lake is just not really realistic. These conditions happen for only a few days out of the whole year. For the rest of the season, you’ll typically have to shovel yourself a place to skate or use a section of the lake that was shoveled earlier that day, because most wild ice skating lakes are not maintained or cleared.
A good rule of thumb – if a nice hotel is located on the lake (ex. Lake Louise) then the hotel will maintain the lake and clear snow. Otherwise – you’re on your own.
3. DRESS WARM
It can get cold in the mountains! And the weather can change pretty suddenly. It’s better to have too many layers that you can take off, instead of freezing to death wishing you brought more. Mountains are super tall, and because of this, they can block the sun for periods of the day – leaving it waaaaay colder than what was forecasted! Pack extra clothes, mitts, hats, etc., and make sure you’re well suited up.
4. HAVE A PLAN
It’s good to have a plan for a few potential lakes to skate on. You may arrive at a lake and find the lot full or the lake super snowy and you forgot your shovel. Maybe the lake is super busy and just looks way too crowded to enjoy. Make sure to have your potential lakes mapped out so you don’t spend your day trying to come up with a Plan B!
5. CHECK THE ICE!!
When wild skating, the lake ice is not monitored. Be careful and skate with caution!! Even if other people are skating on the ice – use your best judgment. The weather fluctuates and ice thickness fluctuates. Check the conditions and always skate safely.
Where to Rent Gear in Banff
A few rental places to rent skates in Banff are:
- Banff Adventures – $15/day
- Fairmont Lake Louise – $23 (2 hours) ; $33 (full day)
Skate rentals in Canmore:
- Gear Up Mountain Sports – $14/day
- Chateau Mountain Sports – $12 – $16/day
Where to Wild Ice Skate in Banff
I wrote a whole post on where to skate in Banff, but my favourites are Johnson Lake and Lake Louise.
Thanks for reading! Hopefully, this guide on wild ice skating in Banff was helpful!. Please remember to always skate with caution, as ice thickness can change over the course of the winter!
Hey! I’m Kat. Based in Alberta, Canada I love to travel to the Rockies and explore new places around the world. Follow along on my adventures and find inspiration and tips for your own travels.