Abraham Lake, Alberta – Ice Bubble Heaven

There was a time when most people hadn’t heard of Abraham Lake in Alberta, but those days are gone. Social media has made the lake famous. Winter pictures of the lake and its stunning ice bubbles have been making their way around social media sites and people from around the world are coming to visit. There are a few things you should know if you want to safely visit Abraham Lake in winter and get the best pictures possible.

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Frozen Methane Bubbles

Abraham Lake, Alberta is known as the bubble lake. Each winter, pockets of methane gas freeze in layers in the ice that coats the lake and when the sun shines just right, they look like jewels glistening under the surface. The methane gas bubbles are formed when bacteria breaks down organic matter at the bottom of the lake. It’s a phenomenon that is found in other lakes, but it’s more visible in Alberta’s Abraham Lake because high winds in that area keep the ice clear of snow. When you put the bubbles in the foreground of a photograph and the mountains in the background, you get an incredible photo op.

An image of a man standing on Abraham Lake in winter with ice bubbles in the foreground - Abraham Lake, Alberta
The ice bubbles are quite spectacular in Abraham Lake. Photo by GREG OLSEN

Related: We love winter hiking! You’ll find several posts about Alberta winter hikes on our site. Check out this post about hiking to Troll Falls.

An image of the ice bubbles and mountains at Abraham Lake, Alberta
If you put the bubbles in the foreground of your photo and the mountains in the background, you can’t go wrong. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN

Winter Wildlife at Alberta’s Abraham Lake

It’s common to see bighorn sheep near Alberta’s Abraham Lake. On our most recent visit we also saw some white-tailed deer.

An image of a bighorn sheep at Abraham Lake Alberta
We’ve seen bighorn sheep every time we have visited Alberta’s Abraham Lake. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN
An image of a bighorn sheep at Abraham Lake, Alberta
Make sure you drive slowly and watch for wildlife. Bighorn sheep like to lick the salt deposits off the road. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN
An image of white-tailed deer running away with their tails in the air. Abraham Lake, Alberta
You can see the white tails on these white-tailed deer. Mule deer have bigger ears and don’t have the white tails. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN

When to Go – Abraham Lake, Alberta

January and February are the best months to go out to see the ice bubbles. If you want the best photographs, don’t go when it’s snowing or after a fresh snow. The first time I visited the lake, was right after a fresh snow and the wind had not had time to clear the snow off the ice. It made it much more challenging to see the ice bubbles.

An image of the ice bubbles at Abraham Lake after a fresh snow. Abraham Lake, Alberta
You don’t want to visit when it’s snowing or right after a fresh snow. The first time I visited the snow was covering most of the bubbles. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN

Where to Go

There are places on Abraham Lake where the ice is unstable. You have to be careful when you venture out onto the ice. The other thing is – it’s a huge lake and it can be difficult to know where the bubbles are. One of the best access points is near the sign for Hoodoo Creek. Park your vehicle off to the side of the road and walk down to the ice.

An image of two people walking down to the frozen Abraham Lake, Alberta.
Watch for the Hoodoo Creek sign. That’s a good spot to access the lake. The ice is stable there and it is usually free of snow. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN

What to Bring

Ice cleats can be helpful to prevent you from falling on the ice. We usually bring a shovel, a broom and some water. If snow is on the ice, you can use those items to help clear it. This will give you the best photographs of Alberta’s Abraham Lake.

An image of a couple standing at Preacher's Point near Abraham Lake, Alberta
There’s a nice view from Preacher’s Point, but it’s not usually a good place to access the ice. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN
An image of a David Thompson Tourism mug on a rock at Preacher's Point near Abraham Lake, Alberta
Preacher’s point is a good place to stop for a snack break. Abraham Lake is part of the David Thompson Tourism Region. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN

Preacher’s Point

We usually like to head to Preacher’s Point to take in the view and have a snack. This is not the best place to access the ice bubbles though. It tends to be snowy there and the ice can be very steep. If you go down there, you might have trouble getting back up.

An image of frozen Crescent Falls  - Abraham Lake, Alberta
Crescent Falls is a great winter hike that can be combined with a visit to Abraham Lake. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN
An image of a woman crouched in front of the frozen Crescent Falls - Abraham Lake, Alberta
Crescent Falls also makes a great winter photo op.

Crescent Falls

A great winter hike near Abraham Lake in Alberta is Crescent Falls. You definitely need ice cleats to do this hike in winter as the trail is very steep. There’s even a section where you have to hang onto a rope while you descend the steep trail. It’s definitely worth the effort. As beautiful as the falls are in the summer, they become spectacular when they are frozen.

Two Hikes in One Day Trip: It’s possible to visit Abraham Lake and Crescent Falls in a single day. Read our post Crescent Falls Hike – Family Fun in Summer and Winter.

An image of Alan and Madeleine Ernst outside Aurum Lodge - Abraham Lake, Alberta
Aurum Lodge is a lovely B&B lodge near Abraham Lake and Alan and Madeleine Ernst are wonderful hosts. Photo by GREG OLSEN

Where to Stay

If you want to stay overnight and experience more of Alberta’s Abraham Lake, I recommend Aurum Lodge. This little B&B is well-run and the hosts can give you plenty of suggestions for things to see and do in the surrounding area.

An image of a man taking a photograph of the ice bubbles in Abraham Lake, Alberta
There are plenty of tours that will take you out to photograph the ice bubbles in Abraham Lake, Alberta. Photo by DEBBIE OLSEN

Tours – Abraham Lake Alberta

If you want to experience Alberta’s Abraham Lake in winter and you don’t want to go on your own, there are options. There are even helicopter bubble tours. The first time I visited the lake, I went with Pursuit Adventures. The tour was well organized, well priced, and included lunch, snacks and a guided hike to Crescent Falls.

More Active Fun in the Canadian Rockies: Read our post Jasper Skiing – Marmot Basin.

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