Alaska Ice Skating
For the classic city ice skating experience where hundreds of people might spend the afternoon careening along smooth, winding paths or warming themselves at burn barrels, try out Westchester Lagoon at the west end of the Chester Creek greenbelt off the L Street / Minnesota Drive corridor.
For an otherworldly encounter with a famous glacier you can’t easily approach or even glimpse during summer, lead the family across frozen Portage Lake to a fantastic wall of jumbled, blue ice. Once the lake surface has frozen solid, people flock across on foot, ice skates, skis and bikes. 50 miles from Anchorage.
These frozen channels wind for miles across the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge off the Glenn Highway in the mouth of the Matanuska and Knik river valleys, just 35 miles north of Anchorage. Either travel the streams or explore extensive pond networks on the flats.
Freeze-up turns this seven-mile long fresh-water fiord in Chugach State Park into a multi-mode travel corridor for ice skaters, hikers, skiers and bikers. Adventure skating can be good before snow gets too deep, or after mid-winter thaws or wind rehabs the surface.
Explore the wild ice of Potter Marsh along the Seward Highway in South Anchorage. After a hard freeze-up, the marsh morphs from bird-nesting habitat into an intriguing maze, with miles of twisty routes leading to unexpected rinks. Very popular with families.
A premier paddling destination in summer, the eight-mile loop canoe trail through 14 lakes can be skated after freeze-up and before significant snowfall. People often cruise the entire route in one long day, or skate out a few lakes and return. Be prepared to hike portages up to a half-mile between lakes. 71 miles north of Anchorage.
Deep enough to submerge an 80-story building, the lake was carved out over thousands of years of glacial advances. While Salmon make their way into the lake, you may not see them due to the immense deposits of glacial silt. The silt also protects them from predators such as birds and larger fish. However, they eventually make their way to clearer waters. Look for dense blue icebergs from Portage Glacier blown to shore.
In 1984 when the Performing Arts Center was being built plans were included for Town Square. In the summer it is a good spot to sit and take a break. In the winter, the trees are strung with christmas lights and an ice skating rink is created at the center of the park.
Referred to as “The Big Dipper” by locals, this is a multi-purpose arena that is open year-round. The Big Dipper features an 85’ x 100’ indoor ice rink with spectator seating for 2,200 that offers youth and adult hockey, speed skating, recreational skating, and sheet rentals for private parties.
Located north of Wasilla about 45 minutes on the west side of the Parks Hwy. Lakes are all connected with trails, and make for a great day of canoeing. They can also be skied in the winter and campgrounds are available as well. This hike can only be done in winter or the lakes will not be frozen enough to walk on.
Named after Hez Houston Ray, a can-do teacher who came to Fairbanks in 1952. His friends called him an “irresistible force,” when advocating for youth sports, and he was well-known for his unusual and concerted efforts to get any job done. One of his most complex — and famous — schemes involved the development of the Big Dipper Ice Arena that now resides at the Hez Ray Sports Complex.