I have early memories of my parents strapping BOB Skates onto my bulky winter boots, and letting me shuffle around with my siblings on a natural lake in Southern Alberta. The sense of wonder and freedom I felt at the wide-open space still remains with me today. Now with kids of my own, our family enjoys natural ice skating every winter nestled among the Rocky Mountains we call home.

Family Skating on Canada’s Natural Lakes & Ponds

Photo credit: Lori Bonesky

The popularity of skating on Canada’s Natural Lakes and Ponds is on the rise, and for good reason. If the pandemic taught us anything, it is how to make the most of our own neighbourhoods, cities and provinces when most everything is closed down. Outdoor skating is a fun winter activity for all ages, complete with fresh air, exercise and a welcome change in scenery. It’s also quite easy to respect physical distancing with all the space offered by these natural lakes and ponds.

Our family enjoys skating at several scenic spots in Alberta, like Lake Louise, Lake Minnewaka and Two Jack Lake. However, there are endless options to explore. This year, we made a quick stop at Gap Lake near Exshaw and passed the puck around despite the very windy day. Keep in mind that natural ice is going to be rougher than the flooded ice you might be used to at rinks within your city – it’s all part of the adventure!

Family Skating on Canada’s Natural Lakes & Ponds

Photo credit: Lori Bonesky

Natural Ice Safety

Going skating on natural ice surfaces does require some knowledge and planning in order to do so safely. Learn how to check the ice for potential danger and always be prepared in case of an emergency. Talk with your kids about staying close to an adult and what to do if they find themselves on unsafe ice. Read about Ice Safety from Canadian Red Cross and also check local ice conditions and restrictions before heading to your destination. In general, the season for natural ice skating is between November and February but there are many factors that play into either a shorter or longer season than usual.

If you’re new to natural ice skating and aren’t sure where the best spots near you are, check out the links below. Many more can be found by providing a simple google search for the area you live in. Have fun, stay safe, and enjoy some natural ice skating with your family this winter!

Scenic Rinks, Icy Trails and Frozen Lakes Across the Country
via CBC. Add some of these beautiful locations around Canada to your bucket list for the future!

Popular Ice Skating Near Banff National Park
via the Government of Canada

Magical Outdoor Rinks in Ontario
via Great Lakes Guide