One day when I was a little girl I was exploring the woods around my parents house in Kanata, Ontario. It was a cold winter’s day. Walking down a snow-covered path, I heard some kids cheering and squealing with delight amidst the trees that stood between the trail and some houses. I have always had an insatiable sense of curiosity, so I walked over to check it out. I couldn’t believe my eyes: somehow the water in that wetland had frozen completely and perfectly. Kids were skating and weaving their way around trees poking out of the ice. It was like a dream or one of those watercolour winter scenes you find on a mug or on a puzzle. I ran home to get my skates and my mom and together we created one of our most special memories.
This memory came back vividly this past weekend when I took a spontaneous skate on one of our mountain lakes here in Banff. A friend of mine had posted on Facebook that the conditions were perfect and without a moment’s hesitation, my fiance and I took off to enjoy the smooth ice of Vermillion Lakes. The conditions were indeed perfect. So perfect that we went back again that evening and skated until the sun went down and we had to skate by headlamp. We didn’t want to leave.
What’s so magical about these outdoor skating rinks is that all the right ingredients need to be in place: no snow cover, ice thick enough to skate on and air cold enough that the surface doesn’t melt or scratch too deeply. We’re lucky to have these rinks spontaneously appear in The Rockies each year and, in addition to that, some outdoor rinks prepared right in the Town of Banff and surrounding areas.
Click here for the Best Spots for Ice Skating in Banff National Park.
© Meghan J. Ward, 2010. Updated February 3, 2014.