Ice skating is one of winter’s most quintessential activities; a throwback to simpler times, when finely-dressed men and women of the 1800s would flock to local ponds smoothed over by the winter’s chill. Today, when the temperature drops, there’s nothing Americans love more than lacing up some freshly sharpened skates to enjoy a few twirls (or spills) on the ice. Idahoans especially, with our passion for the great outdoors and rich state of natural beauty, find great enjoyment in getting outside and skating on an icy rink just the way nature intended–with the brisk chill of winter on your face, piles of puffy white snow marking the edges of the ice, and a blue, cloudless sky or open starry night stretched out above you. Here are some of our favorite outdoor spaces to execute your best figure-eights.
Christina Potters Ice Rink
Every winter season, Ketchum’s Parks and Rec builds and maintains one of the largest non-refrigerated ice rinks in the region, even offering ice skates, helmets, and hockey gear at no charge. Perfect for the skilled acrobat or first-timer, twirl and glide in Idaho’s most treasured resort locales with phenomenal views of the mountains surrounding you with 360-degrees of exhilarating snow-covered peaks. Bonus point because you can run in to the rec center to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa!
Stanley Ice Rink
Tucked away in one of Idaho’s most charming small towns, the Stanley Ice Rink in central Idaho is an idyllic skating getaway with event more stunning views of the Sawtooth Mountains and rustic valley. Like most of the entries on our list, hockey and curling are both extremely popular here if skating isn’t your forte.
Sun Valley Resort Ice Skating Rink
There are precious few year-round outdoor ice skating rinks in the country, but one can be found right here in Idaho at the Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink, which first opened in 1937. Centrally located with absolutely divine views of Mt. Baldy, not only is the public invited to take a twirl, but you might just find yourself bumping into world-class athletes while you’re there.
Round Lake State Park
This forested state park sits just a few miles south of Sandpoint on the edge of Round Lake. A gorgeous camping and recreation area in the summer, it’s also a beautiful place to skate amongst the trees when conditions allow. Since its a state park, however, daily use fees do apply without an Idaho State Parks pass.
Sandpoint City Beach and Sand Creek
When conditions allow, skaters flock to Sandpoint for its multiple outdoor option. Sand Creek, just below the Cedar Street Bridge downtown, is popular with the locals as a charming venue for brushing up on your technique beneath the glow of the bridge. Near the city beach, a skating area is often cleared for the public near the mouth of Sand Creek–a locale that is unrivaled for its picturesque views of Lake Pend Oreille. If all else fails, the south end of the Third Avenue pier is a classic destination.
McCall, Idaho’s beloved central lake right outside of downtown is renowned for freezing solid mid-winter, typically just in time for the McCall Winter Carnival. Certain portions of the ice are smoother than others, however, so double check with the City of McCall to find out where the best spots are.
For a postcard-perfect gliding experience in North Idaho, after temperatures plunge cold enough to freeze local ponds and lakes to safe depths, Coeur d’Alene offers plenty of opportunities. Fernan Lake, the smaller body of water at the east end of Sherman Avenue is a safe bet most years. Lakefront residents often create a smooth, groomed skating area near the public docks for family enjoyment.
Wherever you choose to skate this season, and whether with friends or loved ones, be safe out there! Dress warm, follow posted signs, and wait until the ice is at least 6 inches thick before attempting. You’ll have a blast! And what better winter activity for this festive season?
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