It’s hard not to look around Montana and be struck with the incredible beauty of the Last Best Place. I find that to be even more true during the winter. There is something about snow covered mountains paired with clear blue skies that will inevitably take your breath away.
At some point I realized that it wasn’t enough to simply view the mountains from afar. Those mountains began calling and there was nothing to be done but a little bit of exploring. This week’s exploration had us lacing up our skates and hitting the ice around Southwest Montana.
In addition to the Butte Community Ice Center and the Helena Ice Arena, our communities host a number of outdoor ice rinks during the winter, all of which are well worth exploring! With a warmer winter like this one, it is important to note that the condition of the ice on these rinks is highly dependent on weather.
Outdoor Ice Rinks in Southwest Montana:
- Helena’s Memorial Park Warming Hut and Ice Rink is a community favorite. Check out their Facebook page for hours and ice conditions!
- Butte hosts a number of outdoor rinks.
- The Silverbow Parks and Recreation department maintains a number of outdoor ice rinks as weather permits during the winter months. These rinks include three lighted parks: Clark Park, Racetrack Park, and People’s Park. There are additional rinks at Sesame Street Park, Missoula Avenue, and the corner of Main and Mullin Streets.
- Butte High Altitude Skating Center is a 400M skating oval most often used for speed skating.
- Philipsburg’s Winninghoff Park this rink is operated by the Philipsburg Ice Association. The ice is refrigerated and maintained with a zamboni. The warming hut and skate rentals are unavailable due to COVID, but the ice is in great shape!
- Each winter, Anaconda floods the Kennedy Commons to create a beautiful skating rink, lit by the town’s stunning Christmas tree.
- Bannack offers a true Montana ice skating experience. As the dredge ponds freeze over, they become the perfect natural rink. Unfortunately Bannack Ice Skating is closed this season due to COVID.
With those Mountains calling our names, sometimes those indoor and outdoor rinks just aren’t enough to satisfy our craving for a winter adventure. If we are being honest, some of our favorite memories have been made gliding across the frozen surfaces of some of the ponds and lakes found throughout the region.
***Wild Ice Skating can be incredibly dangerous. Before setting out on a lake ensure you know the ice conditions and always test the ice for depth before setting out.
Don’t be afraid to seek out up-to-date resources, like the MT Icebuds Facebook Group for recent conditions. Note that the window of great skating is almost always narrow and conditions change daily.
For safety, we recommend always carrying ice claws and a safety line in addition to wearing a helmet.
Wild Ice in Southwest Montana:
- Canyon Ferry Reservoir
- Black Sandy
- Georgetown Lake
- Ennis Lake
- Clark Canyon Reservoir
- Cliff & Wade Lakes
Ready to lace up your skates and join us on the ice?
If you choose to travel through Southwest Montana, make sure you are up-to-date on the latest travel information for the State!