Courtesy: City of Calgary

Winter To-Do List: Skate All Around Alberta

By Allison Bench

Taking on winter with a smile is what we Albertans do—right? Well, even if that’s not your attitude, you can’t help but feel joy when gliding across a perfect sheet of ice in a beautiful setting. Our province offers up many great spots.

SHARP TIPS: If you don’t have a set of skates handy, check out AMA’s advice for saving money when you buy winter sporting gear.

If you’ve got your skates in hand—or a plan to rent some—it’s time to find the perfect winter spot to try them out. Most of these options do have skate-change areas and washrooms (unless specified), and some locations even offer on-site rentals.

Don’t Miss These Rinks

In Edmonton, the Victoria Trail Iceway is a trail-style rink that wraps through the forest of the park. The Iceway is maintained by the city, offers beautiful views of the Alberta Legislature and river valley, and is lit up in the evenings.

Edmontonians actually have more than one Iceway to choose from, with the Rundle Park Iceway proving popular year after year. Winding paths lead skaters through the trees to a massive skating surface, as well as a smaller family rink.

One of the largest, and perhaps most well-known, skating spots in Edmonton is the rink at William Hawrelak Park. The city clears the frozen lake and creates a true winter wonderland, with snow-dusted pine trees surrounding a glassy surface. There’s also a concession stand available!

In Red Deer, head over to Bower Ponds for a one-stop shop that has everything you need for a blissful winter skate—even if you don’t own skates! Rentals for both figure and hockey-style skates are available at the pavilion, as well as skating aids and bob-skates for little beginners.

Calgary also has its fair share of brag-worthy skate spots. At Bowness Park, the lagoon is a spot that many people frequent each winter. And it’s with good reason: not only does the lagoon have plenty of skating space, it also offers Ice Bike rentals on weekends, plus the opportunity to experience Crokicurl, a new winter sport played on ice that’s a hybrid between curling and the board game Crokinole.

Frozen lagoon and teahouse, Bowness Park

Up north in Fort McMurray, check out Lions Park, a popular skating trail in the region’s downtown. The free trail is maintained by the municipality and surrounded by a light display—but a note, there are no public washrooms on site. If a classic loop around the pond is more your style, Fort McMurray’s Borealis Park skating pond usually opens in mid-January.

In Lethbridge, the city monitors four designated skating areas in the area: Nicholas Sheran Lake, Henderson Lake, and two Legacy Ponds (NW and East). While there are no public washroom facilities, the city clears the ice of snow for skaters if conditions are safe. Keep an eye on the weather though–Chinook winds in the region can lead to fast melts.

Of course, a bucket-list must for skaters is to enjoy the sport in the stunning Rocky Mountains. In Banff, the town maintains an outdoor rink at the Train Station, or head to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise to check out the must-see rink on one of the most famous lakes in the world. The lake is cleared daily of snow, and you can rent skates at the hotel. Plus, if you’re staying at a Fairmont as an AMA member, you’ll save up to 20% on hotel rates, and you’ll get a $50 dining credit towards on-site restaurants.

Up in Jasper, the Pyramid Lake Resort maintains a groomed skating oval with incredible views of Pyramid Mountain. You can rent skates at the resort—or try out another winter sport, like fat biking. And at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge—where AMA members who stay save up to 20% on hotel rates and get a $50 dining credit—Mildred Lake is groomed and includes a one-kilometre oval trail and four hockey rinks. You can even rent hockey gear right from the lodge’s Winter Activity Centre.