“Skating was the vessel into which I could pour my heart and soul." -Peggy Fleming
A long-beloved sport, ice skating began with sharp fragments of animal bone fitted to the bottoms of boots that glided over the ice. In 1572, the first iron skates were made, a game-changer, to say the least! Today, ice skating remains a favorite winter activity for all ages.
Bozemanites love their rinks, and for a good reason, they are well maintained, easy to access, full of laughter, and surrounded by mountains. Something is relaxing and exhilarating in the sound of skates on the ice, and the motion of gliding. Taking a few turns around the skating rink isn't just for picture-perfect postcards. It can be your reality this winter in Bozeman, Montana! Don't worry if you're new to skating, with a few baby steps, a little grace, and a lot of humor; you'll take right off!
But where should you go for the best skating around? Well, you have plenty of options. Bozeman boasts spots that are covered and out of the elements. You might also find some that are out in the open under the clear Big Sky. Grab a hot cocoa for the road, and head out to lace up your skates. Here are our top recommendations for skating fun.
Groomed and Good to Go
It doesn't demand a lot of thought when you just head to one of the city's many maintained skating rinks, both outdoors and in. It comes with the benefit of not having to go far, and often you'll find gear rental right on-site to help you get suited up. Also, the city parks are free to the public and resurfaced with a Zamboni keeping the ice clean and smooth.
The Haynes Pavilion is a semi-enclosed arena at the fairgrounds with some free-skate hours. You can also find seasonal outdoor rinks at a handful of Bozeman parks, like Beall Park, Southside Park, and Bogert Park. There aren't set open and close dates for the season because outdoor ice rinks are so weather dependent, but you can generally start looking for these around Christmas. They start to break up the first week of March to let the grass grow back for spring. See below for our list of where to skate aroung Bozeman.
Most people come to Montana to celebrate the wilderness, and skating is no exception. That's where wild ice comes in. Just keep these safety tips in mind when you head out onto the wild ice of ponds and lakes.
Tips For Beginners
- Learn how to fall. To reduce injury, fall to the side, never forward or backward. Don't catch yourself with your hands; you'll risk breaking a finger or a wrist. Instead, bend your knees, tuck your chin, and try to fall to the side.
- Take baby steps. Start by taking tiny steps across the ice. Keep your arms out, and you'll naturally transition to gliding.
- Know how to stop. To stop, bend your knees, turn your toes in, point your heels out, and push on your heels.
- Practice the crossover. Once you are comfortable gliding, try picking up one foot and crossing it over the other, which makes it easier to skate in circular form.
Hey, if it's frozen water, it could be a skating rink. But Outside Bozeman reminds us that "you cannot judge the strength of ice just by looking at it. Generally, a thickness of at least five inches is considered safe for skating, and you'll need to drill through the ice to measure this most accurately. Remember to always look for cracks, holes, and debris on the ice surface. Quite often, lakes and rivers do not freeze uniformly, so always use extreme caution and never skate alone."
It's also a good idea to pick a shallow spot to test the waters, so to speak, so if you do breakthrough, you're within an easy—if chilly—walk to the shore. Now that we're safety conscious and ready to head out there, here are the best Bozeman spots for some wild skating.
Skate rentals and sales:
No worries if you're visiting, you can rent skates, pick up used ones or treat yourself to a brand new pair! Looking for a good pair of used skates? Try Second Wind Sports, or for new and used, Play It Again Sports carries both. For a rental pair, check out these shops:
Haynes Pavilion - 901 North Black, Bozeman - at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds
Chalet Sports - 108 West Main Street
Play it Again Sports - 1428 North 15th Avenue
Where to Skate:
415 North Bozeman
The Beall Park rink is located just a few blocks from downtown, perfect for a cup of cocoa or coffee at the end of your skate. Celebrating something special? Check out the pavilion located on-site and available to rent.
South 5th Avenue and West College
A local favorite, this lighted rink also has a warming hut. The tennis courts are set aside for hockey, join in a local game, or simply skate around and hone your skills.
South Church Avenue and Bogert Place
Inclement weather? Not a problem. The Bogert rink is covered and lit, for comfortable skating no matter the weather!
901 North Black, Gallatin County Fairgrounds
Are you looking for an indoor rink? Haynes Pavilion, home to the Bozeman Ice Dogs hockey team, holds two indoor rinks and offers public skating times. Hockey fans, check out the Ice Dog schedule and catch a game while you're in town! Here is the Public Skating Schedule to make it even easier.
Public rinks & hours of operation
Monday through Friday: 12pm-10pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10am-10pm
700 S Fowler Ave, Bozeman, MT 59718
Bozeman Pond, just over by Gallatin Valley Mall, is a reliable spot for some frozen wild water. This small pond has been known to freeze over early, but of course, you'll want to be sure you check the conditions before you set out. It's perfect for a few quick laps to get in the skating spirit!
21 miles east of Helena, Montana on US 12-287
If you head up to Helena for a day trip, large and shallow Canyon Ferry is a prime spot for ice fishing and ice skating alike. You'll generally see plenty of people out enjoying winter once the ice is strong enough to handle it. Just be sure to test it out for yourself before you head out.
Whether you go wild or prefer city rinks, Bozeman is the place to be in winter. Click here for more help planning your trip.
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Bozeman Winter Vacation Ideas
Snowshoeing Around Bozeman, A Beginner's Guide
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