Abraham Lake is beautiful year-round, but the Ice Bubbles have really made it a popular winter attraction.
Abraham Lake is a reservoir that was made with the completion of the Bighorn Dam in 1972. The Lake is about 33 kms long and is well-known in the summer for its bright glacial blue colors. It was named through a contest held by the Alberta Government, after Silas Abraham, a guide from the Stoney Nakoda First Nations during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Mount Abraham that overlooks the lake was also named after Silas Abraham.
The water levels fluctuate dramatically from season to season. More water leaves the reservoir than comes in from about November to June, resulting in very low water levels in late spring and early summer. In July, the lake starts to fill up again and usually reaches its peak in mid October. In the summer, a good rain in the mountains can raise the water level several inches overnight. In the winter, the dropping water levels can create large gaps between the water’s surface and the ice that can be several feet higher. You will even see thick slabs of ice sitting on the rocky beaches as the water pulls back from the edges of the lake.
The ice bubbles are created when methane gas is captured by the freezing surface. As the ice freezes more deeply, you can get stacks or layers of bubbles. The methane is released by the decay of trees and grass covered by the water when the dam was created.
Many lakes have ice bubbles, but we can see the ice bubbles on Abraham Lake because of the tremendous winds that clear the ice. Numerous photographers have had to chase their tripod that the chilly winds have carried away. In the spring and summer these winds can create 3 foot high swells and may blow a canoe or kayak across the lake quite quickly.
The lake’s ice coverage varies throughout the winter. Abraham Lake is usually frozen over by the end of December, but in early 2020 it did not freeze until we had a week of -30 Celsius in mid-January. We recommend using the help of a tour guide that knows the lake well and can provide you with proper gear for exploring Abraham Lake and the nearby trails and waterfalls.
For those looking for services in the winter, Nordegg has 2 gas stations, restaurants, a hotel, and many cabins to rent. Rocky Mountain House, about 50 minutes from Nordegg, has all services available.
Please use these services so you do not leave any waste around the lake. For garbage we promote “If you pack it in, you can pack it out, or just keep your trash at home.”
Abraham Lake lays along the David Thompson Highway west of Nordegg in Clearwater County, a truly magnificent part of the David Thompson Country Tourism Region. #DTCountry
Here are some of our favorite pictures of Abraham Lake in the winter.
- A sunrise tour on Abraham Lake with Pursuit Adventures.
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Sunburst morning at Preacher’s Point. About an hour after sunrise in early January the sun comes out in between the peaks of Ex Coelis Mountain. Looking back at an amazing year so far, this was the first sunrise of 2018. #explorecanada #explorealberta #explorecentralalberta #bighornbackcountry #preacherspoint #dtcountry #visitreddeer #icebubbles #davidthompsoncountry #abrahamlake #sunrise #mountainlife #playoutside #kootenayplains
2. Flying over Abraham Lake with Rockies Heli Canada.
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3. Seeing the Bighorn Sheep on the David Thompson Highway while going to Abraham Lake.
4. Abraham Lake has more to look at than bubbles.
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Ice Crystals on the North Saskatchewan River in the Kootenay Plains area of David Thompson Country. Photo from January 2018. The Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve is almost 8,500 acres of protected area. There are multiple hikes in the area both north and south of the David Thompson Highway. The Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve is along the David Thompson Highway ~ 65 kms west of Nordegg in Clearwater County, an amazing part of David Thompson Country. For those looking for services in the winter Nordegg has 2 gas stations, a restaurant, a hotel, and many cabins or lodges for rent. In the summer there are even more services. #KootenayPlains #DTCountry #DavidThompsonHighway #NorthSaskRiver #Nordegg #ClearwaterCnty #Alberta #exlplorealberta #explorecanada #visitcentralalberta #explorecentralAlberta #discoveralberta #albertatourism #travelalberta #landscapephotography #picoftheday #igalberta #igcanada #myalberta #albertaviews #dailyviewalberta #albertamountains #albertarockies #icecrystals
5. Girth Hitch Guiding taking people up the Slabs on Mount Abraham with the Lake in the background. Yeah, we know. This picture is from summer, but they guide certain climbs in the winter too, and the picture is pretty cool.
6. Classic Ice Bubbles shot with Mount Michener in the background.
7. The David Thompson Highway driving east by Abraham Lake towards Nordegg.
David Thompson Country is the tourism brand for Caroline, Rocky Mountain House and Clearwater County. Highlights include Nordegg, Abraham Lake, the Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve, Siffleur Falls, Ram Falls, Crescent Falls, Burnstick Lake, Cow Lake, Crimson Lake, Peppers Lake and the Ya Ha Tinda.
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