Top ODRs in the world

Picture this, you’re with your buddies and you have your hockey bag packed with all your gear. You’re heading over to an outdoor rink that your teammate was telling you about at practice but you have no idea what to expect. The car stops and you look out the window and you don’t see a rink, you’re confused, but still excited because you get to skate outside for the first time this year. Car doors open, and your buddy grabs their bag and tells you to follow them and you both start walking. After a bit you look up and you are blown away. Massive mountains surrounding a practically clear sheet of ice with a group of players already skating. You have never seen anything like it before, you’re practically sprinting to get down to the ice to put your skates on. Fresh ice for what looks like miles and you have all day to take it in, welcome to ODR heaven. 

As the popularity of ODRs increases, more and more locations are being exposed for their ice quality, the scenery, and the experience you get when you skate there. Locations such as Banff, Alberta in Canada or Keystone Lake in Colorado in the States are famous for all of those things. A couple of Instagram pictures later, and hockey players from all over the world are setting up their vacation time just to get to skate there. Here are ten different ODRs that the Howies team picked out that we think you should go visit at least once in your lifetime!

Lake Louise, Banff, Alberta

If you haven’t heard about this location, I would be very surprised. Known for its breathtaking views and oftentimes, spectacularly clear ice, this location is a number one for many ODR fanatics. Some who are lucky enough to have the perfect timing, even get to skate right after the lake freezes over and there is no snow cover. When this happens, the ice freezes with such a bright blue color that it makes for an amazing skating experience and some spectacular photographs. This ODR is the first of many that are a must see.

Mirror Lake, Lake Placid, New York

This ODR is known for great skates, better views, and historic hockey. In the middle of the city of Lake Placid sits Mirror Lake with a two mile long ice track created for all the skaters that take advantage of. This ODR is perfect for a family skate day or a pickup game of hockey with friends and just a heads up, while you’re skating here, you might even see some sled dogs in action! Also, something about this ODR makes you think, “Do you believe in miracles?”

Lake Vänern, Sweden

Looking over in Europe, we have Lake Vänern in Sweden. Running as the largest lake in Sweden, it creates a picturesque location for an ODR skate! What this ODR lacks in mountains and trees, it makes up for with spectacular sunsets and open ice to skate on all day. This ODR almost looks too good to be true in all of the photos that have been snapped there. This is one you definitely need to check out for yourself!

Mount Douglas, Alaska

This ODR is not as accessible as the rest and requires a bit of work to get to it, but the experience is well worth the hike. Residing on top of a VOLCANO, is a cap of bright blue ice perfect for a skate with friends that you could brag about for the rest of your life. This isn’t necessarily the type of ODR that you would play just your average pickup game on, but rather one where you take the experience, the sights, and just hope that Mount Douglas doesn’t decide to become active while you’re there.

Keystone Lake, Colorado

Keystone Lake is a five acre wide lake covered in ice and endless opportunities for a great pickup game. This ice has hosted years of full days of fun for all ages and continues to do so everyday. Surrounding that ice is a town that makes you feel like you are living out of one of those Hallmark movies and you can’t help but want to spend every winter day there. Oh, did I mention, this is the largest outdoor sheet that has a Zamboni running, yeah this ODR is legit. 

Abraham Lake, Alberta

Another ODR out of Alberta that is well known in the hockey community is Abraham Lake. More breathtaking sights come with skating here but there is something very special about the ice. Abraham Lake is often credited for having very distinct bubbles visible throughout the ice as you glide over. This is believed to be because the plants underneath the water are releasing methane when the lake freezes over leaving hundreds of bubbles frozen in place! I definitely would feel a little uneasy skating over those bubbles but this ODR still lands itself in the Howies top ten to skate!

Baikal Lake, Siberia, Russia

Baikal Lake is an absolute beast! Taking the top spot when it comes to fresh water, it is the deepest and holds more freshwater than all of the Great Lakes combined! Although for us at Howies HQ, this ODR is a pretty far hike from us, we still put it in our top ODRs of all time to visit, I mean, imagine the pickup games we could play there.

Evergreen Lake, Colorado

Love the fresh scent of pine and a nice cold breeze on a winter’s day? Then you would love to skate at the ODR on Evergreen Lake in Colorado. Surrounded by pines and passionate hockey players, you can skate on the over 40-acre slab of ice all day, at least I would if I was there! Often clearing off large spots of ice, they create the perfect atmosphere for pickup games or ODR tournaments and are a must see for all ODR fanatics. 

Two Jack Lake, Banff, Alberta

Finally we have that last ODR. This frequently visited sheet of ice covering Two Jack Lake is located in Banff! While gliding across this lake, most skaters take in the mountain range that surrounds them and play a great game of puck all at the same time. For real, this is the type of ODR where you film a TikTok and go viral, definitely a must skate for all hockey players.

Now it's time pack up the gear, start the car, and head to the ODR! Which one are we hitting first?