Banff National Park

Ice Diving 

Where To Go Ice Diving | Rules & Regulations
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Where To Go Ice Diving

Most ice diving in Banff National Park takes place at Lake Minnewanka or Two Jack Lake.

Lake Minnewanka is 1450 m above sea level, 18 km long with a maximum depth of 100 m. All dives at Lake Minnewanka are cold water, altitude dives. Visibility fluctuates depending on the time of year and the number of divers at the site. Depths vary depending on the time of year, rising up to 5.5 m (18') from spring to fall.

Diving Lake Minnewanka

Rules & Regulations

Banff National Park has ice diving guidelines in place, for both public safety and environmental reasons. All ice divers are asked to comply with the following guidelines:

  • All dive groups (both private and commercial) must obtain a Restricted Activity Permit (RAP) prior to ice diving in Banff National Park. Permits, guidelines, dive sites, and proposed dates must be reviewed ahead of time with a Park Warden. For an ice diving permit, please contact: Phone: 403.762.1470; Fax: 403.762.3240
  • If you use a chainsaw to cut a hole in the ice, the chain oil must be replaced with vegetable oil to prevent water contamination.
  • Generators may be used during diving activities. However they must be located at least 3 metres away from the access hole, and placed in a waterproof base to contain any fuel or oil spills. In addition, a berm of snow should be built around the generator.
  • All litter and food garbage must be cleaned up, removed from the site at the end of the day, and disposed of in a garbage bin.
  • If possible, use park toilet facilities for all human waste. If toilets are not available, use a container that can be removed from the dive site at the end of the day.
  • All divers, attendants, and spectators must comply with the Restricted Activity Permit conditions and Ice Diving Guidelines, as well as the Canada National Parks Act and Regulations .

Commercial Groups

  • A current Banff National Park business licence is mandatory for any commercially led groups, including those conducting commercial ice diving courses.
  • Restricted Activity Permits that are issued to licensed, commercial operators allow for the exclusive use of the area within a 100 metre perimeter around the dive access hole.

Safety

  • After cutting an access hole in the ice, the cut piece of ice should be supported under the water with several 2x2s. This piece of ice can then be floated to the surface to plug the hole when vacating the site. Access holes must not be larger than 4 metres in diameter, and must be constantly supervised by an attendant on the surface.
  • To both safeguard the public and protect divers from the weather, a tent may be set up over the access hole. Ice divers' names and contact phone numbers must be attached to the tent. No overnight camping is permitted at the dive site.
  • When vacating the dive site, slide the ice plug back into place, and mark the hole with flagging tape and wands. Once the hole has re-frozen, you are responsible for removing the markings within a period of 2 weeks.
  • Parks Canada is not responsible for assessing the safety of the ice or other natural hazards in Banff National Park.
  • The Criminal Code of Canada (Section 263(1)) requires that users safeguard the opening in the ice in an appropriate manner.