Ice Skating On Lake Louise

Every year the locals anxiously await for Lake Louise to freeze solid enough to start the skating season. There’s nothing more magical than gliding across the ice with the magnificent backdrop of Victoria Glacier. Depending on the temperatures the rink is usually ready for use in the first week of December.

The ground crew at the Chateau Hotel start measuring the ice thickness near the end of November. Once it has reached a certain depth they clear a large area of snow. The ice is flooded with water until they have created a smooth surface for skating. It’s not very often the lake can be naturally skated on, as in not being prepped. By the time it freezes thick enough a large amount of snow has already fallen on top of it.

A fire pit and benches are set up at the lake shore where you can change into your skates. You are welcome to bring your own skates if you have them, there is no charge to use the rink. Otherwise rentals are available inside the hotel in the lobby area daily from 8am to 8pm.

A large ice castle is built each year in time for Christmas. It remains throughout the winter, or for as long as the ice can tolerate it’s weight.

Try out the game Canada is famous for.  The hockey rink sits next to the skating area. The nets are provided, bring your own stick and pucks or rent them in the same area as the ice skates in the hotel lobby.

Comments

  1. says

    Love, love, love all the info and beautiful pics on your website. How late in the season is the ice rink on Lake Louise usually open? I’ll be up there at the end of March — I’m assuming it will still be nicely frozen by then.

    • Audrey says

      Thanks for the compliment on our photography Daniel. The lake will definitely still be frozen. It doesn’t start to break up until May and isn’t totally clear until usually the first week of June. Ice skating depends on how long the hotel keeps maintaining the ice rink. I believe they maintain it through March and perhaps into the beginning of April. Although if these extremely mild temperatures keep continuing it will be interesting to see what happens. We live right at the lake so feel free to contact us again right before you come and I can update you on the conditions.
      Cheers, Audrey

      • Royce says

        Hi Guys,

        Thanks for the info – just wondering what the lake will be like in early may as we will be there from the 7th, will it still be frozen?? Also is there any chance of seeing it snow??

        Cheers

        Royce

        • Audrey says

          The lake will definitely be frozen in early May. It doesn’t thaw until the beginning of June. The winter activities on the lake have ended, such as ice skating and sleigh rides, etc. Trails such as to the Lake Agnes Tea House (tea house won’t be open yet) will be accessible, but likely slushy and wet. There will still be snow hanging around on the ground around the lake and there is always the possibility that it could snow during your visit. Around other areas of lower elevation such as around the town of Banff etc. will be and already are clear of snow. The bonus about this time of year is the chance to see wildlife as they are out and about feeding on the spring grasses. Sorry it took a few days to get back to you. Anything else we can help you with, feel free to ask.
          Cheers,
          Audrey

    • Audrey says

      The ski hills are open now at Lake Louise and in Banff and you can also cross country ski or snowshoe. The horse drawn sleighs should be going by then at Lake Louise. I don’t think the skating rink will be operating yet during your visit. Google the various Banff/Canmore dog sledding companies they should be running. You could walk through Johnston Canyon to see the frozen waterfalls on your own (make sure to rent ice grips for your footwear) or go with a local tour company. Check the Banff/Lake Louise tourism sites for their calenders of events to see what is happening during your stay, concerts, parades, special events etc.

      Enjoy your trip,
      Audrey

      Update: The grounds staff at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel are going to do their best to get the skating rink operational by this weekend December 1st. If the conditions are safe enough to allow the prepartion of the ice. So hopefully it is operating during your visit of Dec 5th to 9th.
      Cheers

  2. Cliff Hedger says

    Hi Guys,
    We’ll be visiting at the start of March 2014 from England, looking forward to some skating and hockey on the lake, looks great, can’t wait!!!!, we’re flying into Calgary then driving up to Edmonton then across to Banff then onwards to Vancouver!!!
    Cliff.

  3. Brian says

    Love the site. How are the mild March temps going to effect lake skating and other winter activities? Coming out next week (12-16), seeing temps over 50 and curious if this effects access to skating, snowshoeing, skiing, etc. Thanks!

    • Audrey says

      Hi there,

      I had to look to see where you were seeing such warm temperatures, much of Alberta has been in a deep freeze the last while. I see there are some warmer daily high temperatures for Banff coming next week. Those temperatures are for the area around the town of Banff. They are only the high temp for the day it will be much colder in the morning and at night. If you look up Lake Louise you will see it is much colder as will be the ski hills because of the elevation. It looks like some heavy snowfall is predicted for next week as well so there should be some good skiing. Don’t worry about not being able to ski, the season goes right through April and into part of May. All the other winter activities will be available to you as well.
      Cheers,
      Audrey

  4. says

    Hi, coming to your beautiful country at beginning of April 2014.What do you think the conditions will be like driving the Icefields Parkway for a driver from sunny Australia? Also, do you think ice skating on Lake Louise will be possible early to mid April ?How about dog sledding? Thank,in advance

    • Audrey says

      Hi there,

      The iceskating on Lake Louise does come to an end in April. It’s hard to predict when, it all depends on the temperatures and how long the rink can continue to be maintained. You may still be able to book a dog sledding tour near the beginning of April, again depends on the conditions. Your best bet would be to check with the local companies when you arrive. I have not done it myself, but I hear at the end of the season the ride can start to get rather bumpy.

      The Icefields Parkway will be very wintery with snow and icy patches in April, you need to be cautious if you plan to drive it yourself. The weather conditions can change very quickly, it is always advisable to check the weather in the morning on the day you plan to travel. Not to scare you off, but it’s not a drive to be taken lightly, especially if you are not used to driving in winter conditions. It is a long isolated road with much of it having no cellphone reception.

      The other thing I like to inform people about is when renting a vehicle in the winter, for reasons that baffle me many of them are supplied with what are called “all season” tires, especially if you are renting out of Calgary. These are not appropriate for road conditions and temperatures during the winter in the Rocky Mountains. You need to have proper winter/snow tires, especially if driving the Icefields Parkway.

      Cheers,
      Audrey

  5. Tyler says

    Thinking of coming to go skating not this weekend but next. What time is the skating rink open until….may even come up Monday or Tuesday night, are castles still built on the ice?

    • Audrey says

      The skating rink goes for as long as the ice can safely be maintained, it all depends on the weather and temperatures. It generally goes until April, so you should be able to enjoy it during your trip. The ice castle is still currently standing on the lake.

  6. Morgan Farquhar says

    Hello! I will be in Banff November 2nd-11th 2014. Will I be lucky enough to see snow? Or what Winter activities will I be able to do? Im coming all the way from Australia!

    • Audrey says

      You could have seen snow if you were visiting a couple of weeks ago, there was quite an early dump of it! It’s since gone and melted but you will definitely see snow on the mountain tops in the first part of November. There’s no way to know whether there will be any at the lower valleys levels around the town of Banff. Higher elevation places such as Lake Louise may have the ground covered in snow at that time.

      It is too early for winter activities, such as ice skating, snowshoeing, dog sledding and all that kind of stuff. The ski hills may start opening up a couple of runs in November, but usually not until later in the month and it’s not usually very good skiing until in December and beyond.

  7. NashvilleHockeyFan says

    My Father-in-Law taught me the beautiful game of hockey after I married his even more beautiful daughter 7 years ago. I really enjoy it (I grew up a soccer player, and it is a very similar game). Have been looking at photos of the hockey rink on Lake Louise and want to treat my Father-in-Law to a trip to play in the Canadian Rockies.

    As a part of my planning, I am trying to get a feel for when would be a good “downtime” to come up to the area and enjoy some time on the ice when maybe it isn’t quite so crowded. Are there times of the year, as well as even times of the day, when the area is not as crowded?

    Thanks for the great info!

    • Audrey says

      The ice is prepared by the Fairmont Hotel when they have confirmed it has frozen to a thick enough state, usually in the first week of December. If you are wanting to visit during a slower time then I would recommend avoiding holidays, probably starting a week before Christmas and through New Years Day. The ski season brings a lot of people to the area from January through March, but the weekdays will always be slower than weekends and if you get out in the morning you will tend to have a lot less people. January 16th through the 25th, 2015 is the Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise, this will be a busy time and generally for the next week or so after it ends as people continue to come to view the ice sculptures.
      Cheers,
      Audrey

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