Abraham Lake Alberta Canada Ice BubblesFrozen ice bubbles at Abraham Lake in Alberta are an amazing natural phenomenon to witness.

You’ve no doubt seen the photos popping up all over social media: beautiful ice bubbles trapped in a frozen lake against a backdrop of mountains. They’re breathtaking, unique, and hunting for them is a fun winter activity.

Read on to learn everything about the ice bubbles – when and where to see them, how to get to Abraham Lake, where to stay overnight and how to stay safe and warm.

Abraham Lake Alberta Ice BubblesHow are the bubbles at Abraham Lake formed?

These bubbles that appear like glittering jewels under the surface of the water are actually made up of methane.

The bubbles form when dead, organic matter falls into a body of water and sinks to the bottom. The bacteria below interacts with the methane and then forms the white floating blobs when it comes into contact with frozen water. It then freezes into layers, creating this amazing phenomenon.

The spectacle is beautiful indeed, but decreasing permafrost means that more of this methane is constantly being released into the atmosphere. This is worrying for climate scientists as methane is a potent greenhouse gas.

Abraham Lake Alberta Ice BubblesWhen is the best time to find frozen ice bubbles at Abraham Lake?

Typically, Abraham Lake freezes over in mid to late December, but the ice bubbles are often at their best from mid-January to early February.

You can still usually find ice bubbles later into the winter (Alberta’s winter season is very long after all!).

However, the ice starts to get clouded and is more likely to be snow covered in sections deeper into the winter season.

Abraham Lake Alberta Ice Bubbles

The ultimate goal is to catch the lake when the ice is at least an inch thick. That way, the bubbles have had time to build up and the deep cracks in the ice have the depth to create beautiful prismatic effects.

Abraham Lake Alberta Ice Bubbles

If you’re coming later in the season, the good news is that Abraham Lake is known for its high winds. Often, even after a heavy snowfall, you may still be blessed with great bubble viewing conditions if the winds blow the snow off the lake.

(However, it does get COLD here, and the wind makes it that much worse, so make sure to read my section at the end of this blog post about how to dress for the conditions)

Abraham Lake Alberta Ice BubblesHow do you get to Abraham Lake?

The closest airports to Abraham Lake are either Edmonton, or Calgary. From either airport, it’s about a 3.5-hour drive into the lower hills of the Rockies.

There is only one road that will take you out to Abraham Lake, and that is the David Thompson Highway (Highway 11).

If you choose to drive from Calgary, as you can see on the map below, you can choose a route that goes through Banff National Park. It might take you a bit longer, but it is incredibly scenic and I highly recommend this route. In fact, combine your visit to Abraham Lake for bubble-hunting with a full trip to Banff and Lake Louise, and you have yourself an amazing road trip!

If you’re considering doing the full road trip and visiting Banff, be sure to read my post on the 12 Best Things to Do in Winter in Banff.

Abraham Lake Alberta Canada Ice Bubbles

Driving from Calgary:

Driving from Edmonton:


Note: Abraham Lake is located in an area that is quite isolated, so make sure that you drive a vehicle that is safe and equipped for the driving conditions (especially if you’re coming during the winter to see the frozen bubbles). There is often no phone signal in the Abraham Lake area.

Click here for great car rental deals from Calgary or Edmonton

Abraham Lake Ice BubblesWhere on Abraham Lake is the best place to find the bubbles?

Abraham Lake is huge! It stretches for just under sixty square miles. With a lake that size, you’ll save a lot of time on your hunt for bubbles if you know ahead of time where the best places to go are to find the most bubbles.

Below are some popular spots on the lake to hunt for bubbles, and below that is a map to find each of these locations.

Preacher’s Point

This is probably the most visited spot for ice bubble searching. Highway 11 runs right by this section of the lake. There’s a great staging area where you can park and walk down to the lake.

Cline Landing

This portion of the water is shallow and freezes over easily. If it’s clear of snow, it can be a great spot for finding bubbles.

Belly of Abraham

The shoreline along the Belly is another popular area. This area is often windswept and the ice is often clear, at least in patches.

Some people have had great success at the sections between Hoodoo Creek and David Thompson Resort.

Here’s a great map from PandoTrip that pinpoints these areas:

These spots will give you a good start. However, be prepared to try a few different spots until you find the amount and size of bubbles you’re looking for!

Where should I stay overnight?

Abraham Lake is (somewhat) remote. Here are a few accommodation options:

Some people choose to stay in Lake Louise and drive back there when they are finished at the lake (about a 1.5-hour drive).

Abraham Lake Alberta Canada Ice BubblesAbraham Lake Safety Tips:

Ice conditions can be very unpredictable. A  dusting of snow can hide dangerous areas where the ice isn’t as thick as you’d expect. Ice needs to be at least 10cm thick before you should consider walking out onto it – and even that isn’t a guarantee of safety.

To stay safe, avoid the ice between the dam and Windy Point area. Only venture out onto ice where you can see that the ice is thick enough, stay close to the shoreline (the bubbles are usually here anyways), and make sure to avoid areas where the creek and rivers enter the lake.

Always keep in mind that Abraham Lake is remote, without any services available in the winter. Weather can change very quickly and can be unpredictable. Always travel with a well-stocked emergency kit.

Products to Stay Warm:

Abraham Lake is known to be a windy and cold place. You want to enjoy your trip there, so here are a few products I recommend. A good pair of ice cleats, warm jacket, base layers and boots are so important so you can enjoy the outdoors comfortably.

Here are some products I highly recommend:


Korkers Apex Ice Cleat: $39.99 / backcountry.com

Don’t let winter conditions stop you from getting on the trail when you have the Korkers Apex Ice Cleat securely on your boot. The slip-over design makes them easy to throw on when you’re at the trailhead, while the pliable upper material stretches securely over most shoes and boots so you don’t have to worry about them coming off. Multi-direction saw-tooth cleats offer solid grip on firm snow and ice so you can efficiently power up steep trails and come back down without feeling like a human sled.

Arcteryx Cerium Womens

Women’s Cerium LT Hoody: arcteryx.com

Efficient and versatile, and providing exceptional warmth for its weight, the Cerium LT down hoody functions as a mid layer or standalone piece in cool, dry conditions. Premium 850 fill-power down is resilient and warm, the Arato™ 10 shell provides lightweight durability, and Down Composite Mapping™ strategically places Coreloft™ synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas. Articulated construction moves with the body, and the insulated StormHood™ provides coverage without compromising range of vision.

CERIUM LT JACKET MEN'S

Cerium LT Men’s Jacket: arcteryx.com

Worn as a mid layer or standalone piece in cool, dry conditions, the Cerium LT Jacket delivers exceptional warmth for little weight. Premium 850 fill down is resilient, lofty and warm. The Arato™ 10 shell provides lightweight durability, and Down Composite Mapping™ strategically places Coreloft™ synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas. Articulated construction moves with the body, and sewn-through construction is used to further reduce weight and increase packability.

Smartwool Women’s Merino 250 Baselayer Crew Top: moosejaw.com

SmartWool’s best-selling and warmest base layer just got a little more refined with an improved fit, chafe-free seam construction and panels that offer more comfort with a pack.

Smartwool Men’s Merino 250 Baselayer Crew Top: moosejaw.com

SmartWool’s best-selling and warmest base layer just got a little more refined with an improved fit, chafe-free seam construction and panels that offer more comfort with a pack.

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Abraham Lake Alberta Canada Ice Bubbles

Disclaimer: There’s a chance that this blog post includes affiliate product links. At absolutely no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission for any purchase made through these links. Any commissions received are very much appreciated, as they help me to be able to continue posting travel blog content free of charge to my lovely readers. Of course, all recommendations are unbiased, and I will always only recommend products and services that I truly believe in. Thank you for your support!

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Have questions for me about Abraham Lake in Alberta? Have feedback on this blog post? Please feel free to shoot me a comment below; I would love to hear from you!