The 13 best getaway spots for wild outdoor ice skating in Canada

Canada, often referred to as the Great White North, is known for its frigid winters and an enduring love for ice skating. With a multitude of outdoor skating rinks and natural frozen ponds, the country offers a unique opportunity to enjoy this timeless winter activity. From the majestic Rockies to the tranquil Maritimes, Canada's diverse landscapes provide a backdrop to some of the most picturesque outdoor skating experiences in the world. In this feature article, we will explore the top 15 outdoor skating areas in Canada, each with its own distinctive charm and allure.

 Rideau Canal Skateway - Ottawa, Ontario
The Rideau Canal Skateway, the world's largest naturally frozen skating rink, stretches 7.8 kilometers through downtown Ottawa. Skaters can glide beneath the city's iconic landmarks, including Parliament Hill and the Château Laurier. Warm-up huts and beavertail stands dot the route, making it a quintessentially Canadian experience.

 Lake Louise - Banff National Park, Alberta
Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise transforms into a frozen wonderland in the winter. Skating on the crystalline surface of Lake Louise against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks is a breathtaking experience. 

Skating at Lake Louise (photo: Paul Zizka @paulzizkaphoto)

 Red River Trail, Winnipeg, Manitoba
The Red River Mutual Trail in Winnipeg is a natural wonder, recognized as the world's longest naturally frozen skating trail by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008. While its season varies depending on nature, typically running from January to March, it offers a unique blend of outdoor skating, delectable food vendors, and cozy warming huts. This trail is a must-visit for those seeking an unforgettable Canadian winter experience.

 Grouse Mountain - North Vancouver, British Columbia
Nestled atop Grouse Mountain, the Mountaintop Skating Pond is a coveted winter gem set to re-open in Winter 2023 (date to be confirmed). This unique 8,000-square-foot ice skating pond is the only mountaintop outdoor skate pond in the Lower Mainland, making it an exceptional destination for those seeking outdoor winter adventures.

 Jasper National Park - Jasper, Alberta
Jasper's Pyramid Lake offers a serene outdoor skating experience with the towering Canadian Rockies as a backdrop. The ice is maintained by local volunteers and is surrounded by a tranquil forest, making it a truly peaceful place to skate.

 Emera Oval - Halifax, Nova Scotia
Originally conceived as a temporary speed skating oval for the 2011 Canada Winter Games, the Emera Oval's undeniable charm captivated the locals. In response to its immense popularity, the city made it a permanent fixture, and it has since become a beloved Halifax institution.

 Lake Minnewanka - Banff National Park, Alberta
Lake Minnewanka, surrounded by jagged mountain peaks, offers a stunning natural ice rink. Skate amidst the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies while enjoying the serenity of Banff National Park.

Skating on Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park  (photo: Paul Zizka @paulzizkaphoto)

 Big Rideau Lake - Portland, Ontario
Nestled in the Rideau Lakes region, Big Rideau Lake transforms into a winter wonderland. The icy expanse provides an ideal opportunity for a peaceful and scenic skate, and the local community often hosts winter events on the lake.

 Bowring Park - St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
Bowring Park in St. John's is a charming skating location with a beautifully lit Christmas tree in the center of the rink. The park is a picturesque location for skating and enjoying a hot cocoa in a postcard-worthy winter setting.

Arrowhead Park (photo: Muskoka Tourism)

Arrowhead Provincial Park - Huntsville, Ontario
Nestled in the heart of Muskoka, Arrowhead Provincial Park offers a quintessential Canadian winter experience. This charming park boasts a network of well-maintained skating trails that wind their way through the tranquil forest. Visitors can glide through snow-covered pines and along the meandering river, creating a magical winter scene that feels straight out of a fairy tale. The park's heated facilities and cozy cabins provide a welcome respite for skaters seeking to warm up and enjoy some hot chocolate.

 Lac aux Castors - Montreal, Quebec
Lac aux Castors, or Beaver Lake, in Montreal's Mount Royal Park, is a beloved outdoor skating spot. This picturesque man-made lake offers a tranquil setting surrounded by trees and the city's skyline. The skating rink is maintained throughout the winter season, and the park features warm-up huts and a cozy chalet where you can enjoy hot drinks and snacks. Skating on Lac aux Castors is a delightful way to experience Montreal's winter magic.

 The Whiteway - Columbia Valley, British Columbia
In 2014, the Whiteway at Toby Creek Nordic Centre in the Columbia Valley, British Columbia, earned the prestigious title of the world's longest skating trail, as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. This remarkable trail was first constructed in 2006 with the primary goal of linking the various communities situated along the picturesque Lake Windermere in the Columbia Valley of British Columbia. 

 Parc National d'Oka - Oka, Quebec
Parc National d'Oka, located in the Laurentians region of Quebec, provides a stunning natural setting for outdoor ice skating. When winter's chill takes hold, the park's frozen ponds become picturesque skating spots. Surrounded by the pristine beauty of the Laurentians, visitors can glide over the crystal-clear ice with the forested landscape as their backdrop. This natural setting offers a serene and immersive outdoor skating experience in the heart of Quebec's natural beauty.



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