Each winter when temperatures drop and conditions are ‘just right’ – the lakes and ponds across the Kootenays transform into the perfect natural ice-skating surfaces. Depending on weather, these locations may be accessible anywhere from late November, until the end of February. **Always check conditions before getting out onto the ice**
In and around Cranbrook offers a few options for a day on the ice, including Jimsmith Lake Provincial Park, the wetlands at Elizabeth Lake and the 3-km long skating loop at Wasa Lake Provincial Park (just a 30-min drive north of Cranbrook and Kimberley).
Within close proximity to Fairmont Hot Springs is Columbia Lake which is frozen for roughly four months of the year. Skating access is available both from Columbia Lake Provincial Park, as well as Tilley Memorial Park to the south (near Canal Flats). Nearby to the lake is the source of the Columbia Pathway, a short walk (1.8-km loop) to see the beginnings of the Columbia River.
Reflection Lake is located along the south edge of Golden and is easily accessible in the winter months for skating adventures.
The world’s longest natural skating rink stretches 34-km of groomed surface and it’s located on the frozen waters of Lake Windermere. The Whiteway is the ultimate winter location for all activities taking place on ice, you can skate, Nordic ski, ice-fish, fat bike and more. Access points are from Kinsmen beach in Invermere and Windermere beach.
The Whiteway on Lake Windermere; photo by Zoya Lynch
For an off the beaten track adventure, check the conditions at Bear and Fish Lake near Kaslo. These mountain lakes are located between the mountain communities of Kaslo and New Denver, along Highway 31A. (Note: They are only accessible with the right conditions – usually earlier in the winter season before a heavy snowfall.)
Located south of Nelson, along Highway 6 is Cottonwood Lake. This family favourite spot is the perfect place to spend the day skating, playing a game of hockey and warming up with hot-chocolate. This lake freezes at least once per season, with December being a favourable time to explore its surface.
A pick-up game of hockey on Cottonwood Lake; photo by Nick Diamond
RADIUM HOT SPRINGS
Glide over ice in the wetlands at Mill Pond in Radium Hot Springs, located just beyond the Forester’s Landing Road rail crossing.
In addition, most Kootenay mountain communities have outdoor skating rinks available throughout the winter months. And at the base of several of our ski resort, they also offer ice-skating areas.
Fun-times for the entire family; photo by Nick Diamond Photography
~ Take extra time to research and plan your trip in advance. Many of our tourism businesses and services have adopted new COVID-19 protocols and changes to their schedules or policies to ensure your safety. You’ll want to become familiar with them ahead of time.
~ If you normally travel with extended family or with several friends, consider travelling in a smaller group. Travelling with fewer people makes it easier for you to practise physical distancing in public, and may have less of an impact on the destination.
~ Consider a slower travel pace to help curb the spread. Instead of checking in and out of multiple destinations during one trip, choose one or two destinations and one/two accommodation properties for your entire trip (and explore all the things to do & see nearby).
~ 5 Things to do with the White Stuff in the Kootenays
~ Family Fun on the Powder Highway
~ Funky Finds on the Powder Highway
~ Getting into Hot Water: Kootenay Hot Springs
~ Invermere’s The Whiteway: And All things Winter
~ Stay Local, Support Local in the Kootenay Rockies
~ Support Local: Meet Our Partners – Winter Adventurers
~ What’s NEW on the Powder Highway?
Words by Ashley Voykin. Cover/top photo by Zoya Lynch (of The Whiteway).
Ashley Voykin is a landscape and outdoor adventure photographer in the West Kootenays. Her work focuses on big mountains, small towns and exploring those spaces. Committed to capturing local landscapes in a new way, she can often be found chasing Northern Lights late into the night and finding new views of endless lakes and mountains around the Kootenays.
(Originally published in winter 2019.)