Preacher’s Point

Sunrise at Preacher's Point

The wonders of ice and mountains

by | Published on December 7, 2020 | Last updated on December 26, 2020

Based on our experience guiding hundreds of tours on the ice of Abraham Lake over the past 10 years

Preacher's Point, at the south end of the lake, is where the North Saskatchewan River enters Abraham Lake. It is the first place to freeze on the lake, making it a great option for early season adventures.

We can usually get on the ice to see the bubbles in this area by mid-November, some years as early as late October. That makes it a great early season option but also means that by mid-January the ice is usually cloudy without great bubbles.

It's a popular spot that can get busy. The area most people visit is fairly small, making it quite crowded at times.

Ice bubbles and grassy grounds

Ice bubbles and grassy grounds

Sunrise on Ex Coelis

Sunrise on Ex Coelis

This is where the North Saskatchewan River enters Abraham Lake. It has a different feel than the rest of the lake, with shallow water below the ice exposing grass under the ice bubbles. Located at the edge of the front range and main range of the Rockies on the Kootenay Plains, the mountains surrounding the area give a different backdrop than what you see on the main lake.

It's also a popular spot for sunrises from November to January when the sun bursts behind the peaks of Ex Coelis mountain.

Plan Your Adventure

Ice conditions can change quickly. The map and directions below are based on our many visits to the area.

  • Activity: Ice Walk, Photography and Sightseeing
  • Time Needed: Plan on at least 60 minutes, plus driving time
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Season: November to March
  • Congestion: Moderate to busy
  • Getting There: From Nordegg, Preacher’s Point approximately 60 km away travelling west on Highway 11. Coming from Lake Louise, the drive is approximately 115 km. Take Highway 93 to Saskatchewan Crossing before going approximately 30 km east on Highway 11. The sign is no longer there but you'll find directions on Google Maps here.
  • Management: Alberta Environment
  • Protection Status: Kiska/Wilson PLUZ
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes
  • Cell Reception: None

Guided Tours

Enjoy the comfort that comes with a guide who knows the area’s trails, wildlife and terrain so that you can focus on your adventure, while the rest is taken care of.

Ice Safety

We've put together a guide with a few things to consider when you plan your Abraham Lake ice walk to make it a safe adventure.

Head Out With A Guide

Make the most of your adventure and head out with a guide. Pursuit Adventures offers guided tours to the Abraham Lake ice bubbles from November to March. Book below or check out the full itinerary.

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Head Out On Your Own

Sometimes you just want to head out on your own to explore the area. We get it. Here’s our guide for the Abraham Lake ice bubbles at Preacher's Point. You'll find our guides to other ice bubble locations on Abraham Lake here.

Accessing the Ice

The lake can easily be accessed from the main parking area by walking down the rocky shore. The ice in the area to the right of the main access is typically on the ground by early December, making it a safer option for those who do not want to venture over water.

Preacher's Point

Lake access at Preacher's Point

Ice Bubbles and Ice Features

Preacher's Point offers something a little different than the big ice bubble stacks we see in areas like Hoodoo Creek. The bubbles here are usually smaller but in larger quantities. The shallow water usually means we see grass and rocks at the bottom of the ice, giving us clear ice but without the turquoise colour we see elsewhere on the lake (except in the early season when the water level is higher).

Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles

Grass and ice bubbles in late October

Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles

Shallow ice and bubbles

Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles

Ice features at Preacher's Point

Sunrise and Sunset

This is a great spot for sunrise. One of the most popular shots is of the sunburst behind Ex Coelis mountain, which happens from November to January. It's a great location to catch the morning alpenglow colours and often has great sunrise colours.

Sunset colours can be great here, as long as there are enough clouds in the sky to reflect them. On those days the ice lights up in oranges, reds, pinks and purples, accentuating the blue-green colour of the ice, as the area is filled with indirect light. Mount Ernest Ross and Sentinel Mountain are directly to the west, blocking the views of the actual sunset. That's why on days without enough sufficient clouds the light here tends to be flat in the late afternoon.

Alpenglow at Preacher's Point

Alpenglow at Preacher's Point

Sunburst on Ex Coelis

Sunburst on Ex Coelis

Sunset at Preacher's Point

Sunset colours on a Chinook afternoon

Safety and the North Saskatchewan River

Preacher's Point is where the North Saskatchewan River enters Abraham Lake. This does mean that there are a few more things you should consider about ice conditions before you head out.

The river channel has variable ice that can be eroded from below. Always check ice conditions as you go, since one area can be thick and just a few metres away you may not have enough ice to support you. The river does run under the ice throughout the winter which can make it harder to get out in the event that someone falls through.

The area near the point is on the river channel. Some sections near the shore in that area can be open water throughout the winter.

Those areas are highlighted in the picture below.

Once the water level drops, the ice in this area is on the ground except for the river channel. This leads to great ice features but also to uneven grounds as you walk around on the ice.

Preacher's Point River Channel
North Saskatchewan River

Ice features along a secondary channel of the North Saskatchewan River

North Saskatchewan River at Preacher's Point

Open water near the shore in late January

Venturing Further Down the Lake

Accessing the area north of the point, between Preacher's Point and Peskett/BATUS Canyon, provides some great views of Elliott's Peak, turquoise ice and deeper stacks of bubbles.

It is a more challenging approach, however, and it should only be undertaken if you have a good understanding of ice safety and the area.

Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles

Sunset past the point

Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles

Bigger ice bubbles as you explore down the lake from Preacher's Point

Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles - Preacher's Point

Early evening looking back at Ex Coelis

Through the Season

This area changes a lot, from the high water level of November to the ice features of December and cloudier ice later in the season. 

October Ice Bubbles

Thin ice in late October and early November

Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles

Clear ice and deeper water in November

Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles

Dropping water levels in late-November and December

Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles

The ice is sitting on the ground by December and gets cloudier as the season goes on

Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles

Cloudier ice in January and February

Conditions and Updates

We share this information to help visitors to the area plan their trip. This represents the conditions we have observed at a specific point in time. Ice safety depends on many more factors than just ice conditions and anybody going on the ice should have the knowledge and experience required to assess the risks, or should consider going with a guide.

Outdoor Safety

  • For your safety and the protection of the area please follow trail signs, stay on the trail and respect all trail closures
  • Be respectful of wildlife and familiarize yourself with wildlife safety techniques including keeping your pet on a leash and keeping your group together.
  • Always use the bear-proof garbage bin, keep a clean site and store your food in a bear safe fashion.
  • Always be prepared when travelling outdoors.
  • This area has limited cell phone reception. We recommend carrying an InReach on your hikes.
  • Information provided here may be inaccurate or outdated. Always make sure to obtain current information before going on your adventure.

Disclaimer

There are inherent risks in outdoor activities. Although we strive to provide accurate information and to alert you of potential dangers, trail conditions may change quickly due to weather conditions and other factors. Using the information provided on this site is entirely at your own risk and Pursuit Adventures is in no way liable for any injuries or other damages that may be sustained by anyone using the trails or information described on this site.

Have you been to Preacher's Point? Let us know about your adventure in the comments below.