One of the quietest, most picturesque areas of the Rocky Mountains lies just steps outside the major tourist areas of Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, along Highway 11. In between Rocky Mountain House and the Icefields Parkway, there is a gorgeous blue lake that takes on the most incredible hue in the summer and a whole new level of magic in the winter. Having discovered Abraham Lake only a couple summers ago, I had never explored it in the winter. Abraham Lake is known for one thing in the winter – bubbles.
The bubbles are just methane gas, frozen in the lake, and is actually pretty common in a lot of lakes that freeze in the winter, but are very prominent in Abraham Lake. My brother and I tackled the drive to Abraham Lake, layered up in fleece and windbreakers, with snacks and my infamous one Bryan Adams CD in my car for when we lose radio signal. Not knowing where exactly to see the bubbles the clearest, we stopped at a few points along the lake. The first one was insanely windy, at the east end of the lake, where the shore was coated in smooth layers of ice from the water being blown onto the shore and freezing there, being glazed over by the wind.
After a few moments freezing in the wind, we continued driving west. We spotted probably less than 20 other vehicles over the course of the day, a true testament to how quiet this area of the Rockies is. Stuart had read online that Preacher Point was a good place to stop and check out the bubbles so we made out way to the west end of the lake.
It was gorgeous and a lot less windy at Preacher Point, which made for an excellent stop to explore, meander along the frozen lake, and skate, apparently. We both brought our skates, but I decided not to test fate with uneven ice and a complete lack of graceful skating skills. Stuart laced up on a relatively smooth stretch of ice and skated around for a bit, which is kind of a unique and neat experience.
In addition to the really cool bubbles in the lake, the shores of the lake at Preacher Point had giant slaps of ice that were pushed up against each other, revealing just how thick and blue the ice was.
It was crazy how it was about 0-2C the entire day, but with the wind it was SO COLD. We were both chilled to the bone after a few hours of exploration and cranked the heat on the drive home. Next time we visit we plan on bringing supplies for a fire to roast marshmallows and a thermos of hot chocolate to keep us warm while out on the ice.
I am so happy we decided to drive out to Abraham Lake for the day. I had a long weekend and knew after being stuck inside through almost two weeks of -30C, I was ready to get to the mountains, if only briefly. The bubbles in the lake apparently have a peak viewing season of about two weeks, when the lake has just frozen over sometime between early and late January. The cold snap of the previous two weeks gave us a good window of opportunity and I’m glad we jumped at it! A fun adventure day in Alberta!