Winter is the time of year when outdoor adventurists bundle up and prepare to face frigid temperatures. Skiing, sledding and snowboarding are some popular winter sports enjoyed by this bunch. However, there’s another exhilarating activity that jumps onto many nature enthusiasts’ radars around this time–wild skating.

As its name suggests, wild skating is a type of ice skating that takes place on natural and often rugged terrains. Unlike maintained rinks found in cities around the world, the ice of these frozen lakes and ponds occurs naturally and is unmaintained. 


If this is your first time hearing of wild skating, you’re likely wondering if it is safe. Venturing out onto wild ice can indeed be a risky and dangerous pursuit. For your first time, it is recommended to have someone experienced in wild skating accompany you and show you how to check the ice for safety.

Determining whether ice is thick enough to skate on is of the utmost importance to ensure your safety and prevent accidents. Before venturing onto a frozen surface, there are several indicators to look out for that can help you assess its thickness. The Canadian Red Cross recommends having at least 20 cm of solid ice for ice skating. However, this guideline may vary depending on factors such as temperature, location and local regulations.

An ice probe is a useful tool that can help produce an exact measurement. Similarly, an ice chisel, drill or auger can be used to create a hole in the ice that can then be measured.

The Canadian Red Cross also says the color of the ice can indicate how thick and strong it is. Therefore, you should be sure to perform a visual inspection before making a decision.

According to the organization, “Clear blue to black ice is strongest, and likely the deepest…White opaque or snow ice should be avoided. Grey ice indicates the presence of water and is unsafe to stand on.”

Before skating on any frozen body of water, Look for cracks, bubbles or holes in the ice. These may be an indication of weak spots or thinner ice. Be aware that ice thickness can also vary across the same body of water, so it is essential to take multiple measurements at different points to get an accurate picture of the situation.

Wild Skating Destinations

Wild skating enthusiasts are always on the lookout for new and exhilarating spots to test their skills. North America is home to many destinations that offer the perfect winter wonderland backdrop for this unique cold weather experience. Here are three locations to consider.

Rabbit Slough, Alaska 

If solitude and untouched landscapes are what you crave, Rabbit Slough just might be the wild skating site for you. The remote and pristine location about an hour north of Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, offers vast frozen wetlands to explore. As you skate along the never-ending frozen trails, you’ll feel at one with nature and immersed in the sheer beauty of the Alaskan wilderness.

Lake Louise, Canada 

Located in Alberta’s Banff National Park, Lake Louise is one of Canada’s most iconic destinations. It is known for its breathtaking scenery and world-class outdoor activities. In winter, this turquoise glacial lake transforms into an ice rink for wild skaters to indulge in their passion. The vast expanse of the frozen lake, surrounded by towering snow-covered peaks, provides the perfect location for a wild skating adventure. 

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

If you’re looking to enjoy wild skating right here in the continental U.S., consider Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. This renowned national park offers an abundance of frozen lakes, ponds and streams that freeze over when the temperatures drop. The park’s unparalleled scenery includes towering peaks and untouched wilderness that will leave you in awe.