The magical Ice Bubble Lake in Alberta – a must see!
We stumbled upon this magical place just by pure luck (and a quite fascinating amount of research by Fredrik on a lazy Sunday). This ice bubble lake in Alberta, called Abraham Lake, is not something that’s ranking high when you’re searching for things to do in the area. It only has 11 reviews at this moment on TripAdvisor!
Since these off the beaten path, non-touristy things are what we love to do, we decided to give it a shot. And let me tell you, even if it was quite a long drive (well, not for being in Canada I guess) and due to the fact that I even had fever and probably should’ve stayed at home, I don’t regret going for a minute – this ice bubble lake in Alberta is one of the coolest things I’ve seen and it’s definitely worth a visit!
What to see at the ice bubble lake in Alberta
There are just so many things here to take in. Of course, there are the ice bubbles, but there’s also so much more! My first reaction was wow – the ice has frozen in a really cool way. It looked like it was frozen in waves! We went sliding down the ice a couple of times – the hard part was getting up again! Have you ever tried walking up a hill completely made of ice? It’s not easy! Other than that, just look around you and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The lake is completely surrounded by the mountains – it’s breathtaking.
Is it a hidden gem?
Well, I say that it’s not a touristy spot but that’s not completely true. Still, neither our landlords nor co-workers who live here in Alberta had heard of the lake before! When I call it non-touristy, I mean that there’s a lack of tourists – or let me say, a lack of people. When Fredrik and I visited the ice bubble lake in January, there was only one other couple there – we basically had the whole lake for ourselves! I’m guessing the lake is not as much of a hidden gem now as it was before the time of social media, but I honestly have no problem sharing this amazing spot with a few others. It’s still such a difference compared to visiting Lake Louise and the other tourist attractions in the area! They’re all lovely spots, but sometimes you just want to go somewhere not as busy.
What also makes this ice bubble lake in Alberta quite special, is the location. In that way, it’s quite hidden. The only reason that you would really pass by here by coincidence, would be if you were going to either Jasper or Banff from the Red Deer-area. Otherwise, the road passing by the lake is not a road you usually would drive on.
Why there are ice bubbles
So, why are there bubbles frozen in the ice? This is not my area of expertise, but after some research I can say that it’s about methane gas released from the plants at the lake’s bottom. As the lake freezes, the bubbles get stuck under the surface – pretty cool!
When you can see this phenomenon
You have to plan your visit to the lake pretty carefully. The best time to view the ice bubbles should be from the middle of December – the end of January. If you go earlier, the lake might not be completely frozen yet – which can result in a lack of ice bubbles, and also be dangerous. If you go later, the lake might start to melt instead, which brings the same consequences.
Try to avoid going to the lake after a heavy snowfall. You don’t want the snow to cover all of your ice bubbles! However if you don’t have any other option, it might still be worth going since Abraham Lake is known to be a very windy place – the snow might just blow away.
How to get to Abraham Lake
You’ll need a car to get here and there’s only one road passing by the lake, so as you see, you don’t have many options. You literally have two:
* Going on the Trans-Canada Highway, pass Lake Louise, and the continuing on Highway 93. At Saskatchewan River Crossing, turn right and continue on Highway 11 for about 30 minutes and you’ll be at the beginning of the lake.
* The other option is coming from the opposite way. If you’re coming from Red Deer or from the north, you just have to go on Highway 11 and follow it all the way to the lake.
The best spot for seeing ice bubbles
We drove along the lake back and forth, but agreed we found the best spot right away – Preacher’s Point. We could directly tell the ice was really thick. I also felt relieved when I could actually see the bottom below the ice bubbles – if our judgment would have been wrong, it would just have been a really, really cold lesson. Not a life-threatening one.
If you’re coming from Banff as we did, Preacher’s Point is right at the beginning of the lake.
What to bring
Keep in mind that this is in the middle of nowhere. There’s no store and nowhere to refuel your car. You could be out of phone signal and there’s basically no people around. Be prepared. Bring warm clothes and extra food. Make sure you have at least close to a full tank and tell people where you are going. Always have a plan B – what will you do if your car stops working?
For the ice itself, a good brush can come in handy. Don’t let any snow on the ice stop you from your amazing experience!
Fact about Abraham’s lake
This ice bubble lake in Alberta is a man-made lake. It’s also one of the biggest lakes in the area. I really want to emphasize the importance of being careful when visiting the lake. For us, at the end of January, there was no problem and we could really see how thick the ice was. If you’re unsure, don’t take any risks. The ice can be unstable at places, especially where the water flows in and out of the lake.
Good to know
There are also other lakes around said to have the same phenomenon, but we decided to go for Abraham Lake. It’s supposed to be the best one since it’s quite windy, so the snow will blow off the ice!
The roads can be quite bad during winter, so remember to have winter tires on your car – or if you’re renting a car like we did, be sure you ask to rent one with winter tires on! Not only for your safety, but it’s also required by law.
Have fun on the lake, but remember – never walk out on the ice if you’re not 100% sure that it’s safe. If you don’t feel comfortable going out on the ice on your own, you could book a tour and have an experienced guide with you. We visited the lake by ourselves, but I found this company offering a tour to the lake for the ones interested.
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