The now famous methane bubbles of Abraham Lake are worth a visit throughout the winter months.
The lake typically freezes in mid to late December with the ice bubbles at their best from mid January to early February. The bubbles are still visible later in the winter but the ice starts to get cloudy and is more likely to be snow covered in sections.
Going looking for ice bubbles is a little like wildlife viewing. You never know how the conditions will change and while we can highlight some of the spots where you're most likely to find them there's no guarantees.
While the ice bubbles are definitely a show stopper, there's a lot more to see in the area throughout the winter months. Make sure to plan a few side trips to places like Crescent Falls, Siffleur Falls and the Cline River Canyon while you explore David Thompson Country.
Ice and weather conditions can change quickly. The map and directions below are based on our experiences in the area.
- Activity: Sightseeing
- Time Needed: Plan on at least 2 hours, plus driving.
- Family Friendly: Yes - Remote Area
- Season: January to early March
- Congestion: Moderate
- Management: Alberta Environment
- Protection Status: Kiska/Wilson PLUZ
- Parking: Highway shoulder. No washrooms.
- Dogs Allowed: Yes
- Permits / Restrictions: None
- Cell Reception: Limited
Getting There: From Red Deer, Allstones Cove is approximately 200 km away and Preacher’s Point approximately 230 km away . To get there travel west approximately 20 km past Nordegg on Highway 11. From Banff or Lake Louise, take Highway 93 to Saskatchewan Crossing before going approximately 30 km east on Highway 11.
Go with a guide who knows the area's trails, history, wildlife and terrain. Join a small group guided tour or plan a private adventure.
Going to Abraham Lake to view the ice bubbles can be a fun and safe adventures. We do want to share a a few words of caution before you head out however, including the obvious one that you will be walking on a frozen lake that is not your typical frozen lake. Abraham Lake is a large reservoir, used by TransAlta to generate power. The water levels drop throughout the winter, creating dangerous situations where there are large gaps of air between the ice and the water below.
To make your adventure safe, we recommend that you never go on the ice between the dam and Windy Point. In the areas we suggest below, only go on the ice where you can see that the ice is thick enough, stay close to shore and avoid areas where creeks and rivers enter the lake. Bring ice cleats along and never go down a steep area that you may not be able to easily climb back up. Avoid snow covered areas since they may be hiding weak ice underneath.
Also keep in mind that the area is remote, without any services available locally throughout the winter. Weather changes quickly in the area and is unpredictable so always travel with a well stocked emergency kit.
Coming from Nordegg, this is the first great views of Abraham Lake and the ice formations. Park at the trailhead just before crossing Allstones Creek and head out for a walk down toward the lake.
At this location we do not recommended to get on the ice but rather take a few minutes to enjoy the ice formations from shore. The dropping water levels create great features here later in the season.
The Belly of Abraham
The area between Hoodoo Creek to where the road leaves the shoreline heading toward David Thompson Resort offer some great options for ice bubbles. The ice in this area is usually safe - again, use caution - and the ice bubbles are usually large and clear.
One of the safest option located in a shallow bay, the lake here is often snow covered. It's still a gorgeous spot with great views of the nearby peaks, into the Whitegoat Wilderness and the Whiterabbit valley across the lake.
From personal experience we recommend parking on the highway shoulder rather than driving down to the lake and risking getting stuck below on the icy access road.
Preacher's Point is one of the most popular spot for photography and can often get a little crowded. Some sections are shallow, making for great shots of grass and ice bubbles mixed together while other areas have features that resemble a leather spread over the undulating terrain.
One thing to keep in mind is that the North Saskatchewan River runs close to shore at this point, making for very weak ice in areas.
- For your safety and the protection of the area please follow trail signs, stay on the trail and respect all trail closures
- Be respectful of wildlife and familiarize yourself with wildlife safety techniques including keeping your pet on a leash and keeping your group together.
- Always be prepared when travelling outdoors.
- This area has limited cell phone reception.
- Information provided here may be inaccurate or outdated. Always make sure to obtain current information before going on your adventure.
There are inherent risks in outdoor activities. Although we strive to provide accurate information and to alert you of potential dangers, trail conditions may change quickly due to weather conditions and other factors. Using the information provided on this site is entirely at your own risk and Pursuit Adventures is in no ways liable for any injuries or other damages that may be sustained by anyone using the trails or information described on this site.