Grab Your Skates. Five of Billings’ Best Spots to Go Ice Skating
When I was a kid, we lived in the country and the neighbor's property had a shallow pond in a boggy, river-bottom portion of their land. My brothers and I couldn't wait for it to freeze over every winter, so we could trudge the 1/2 mile or so through the snowy woods to go ice skating on that pond.
We made improvised hockey sticks out of scraps of lumber we took from my dad's stash and we frequently brought a broom or shovel with us to clear the ice of any fresh snow. We never got our hands on a real hockey puck... I'm pretty sure we just used rocks. It was a blast and now that I'm thinking about it, I kind of want to go skating again.
Not the river.
If you'd like to recreate childhood memories (or make some new ones!) get some skates and find some ice. Just avoid the river. Even the calm, flat, frozen side channels can be dangerous. Oftentimes the water levels will drop, leaving the ice hovering above empty space. Until you walk on it and the whole thing collapses. Not fun or safe. Here are five WAY better choices in and around Billings.
Somewhat sheltered from the wind, the big shallow pond at Riverfront Park is a good place to check out for ice skating.
Remember that one time (last year), when they drained the lake and we found some oddities lying in the muddy bottom? Of course, Lake Elmo has since been refilled. Keep an eye out for ice fishing holes while you're out skating around. You'd hate to catch your skate edge in one of those.
I saw on the news that City of Billings crews are making the ice as we speak for this popular skating spot at the corner of Poly Drive and 13th St W. It's not quite ready for skaters (as of 11/30) but with a few more cold days and night it should be ready to go soon.
Take a short hop out to Laurel and you can skate your little heart out on Laurel Pond at Lions Park. When I stopped by on 11/29, it was smooth as glass with just a dusting of light snow on top. The ice appeared to be at least 2 - 3 inches thick.
Scheel's Pond/Shiloh Conservation Area
Did you know there is a nice-sized public pond right behind Scheel's? It's true. And if you get tired of skating, switch into your ice fishing gear... the pond is reportedly a decent spot for catching wintertime bass, according to this YouTuber's video. To the west of Shiloh Road is that large conservation area with another pond for skating.