There’s a Chill in the Air
Mt. Shasta Offers a Wide Variety of Outdoor Fun…
For winter adventurers in Mt. Shasta, the chill in the air becomes a beckoning call to the great outdoors. “The whole area becomes a winter wonderland. The Mt. Shasta Ski Park brings a lot of people into the town. But once you’re here, I mean, hiking continues, just with a little more frost. You can snowshoe. There’s cross country skiing. There’s the Nordic Center. Then, of course, there’s also the ice rink,” says Shannon Shaw, district administrator of the Mt. Shasta Recreation and Parks District.
Ice skating has a long history in Siskiyou County, but it was always a sort of backwoods adventure for the truly dedicated. The sport also had an extremely limited season due to the small timeframe between high-elevation mountain lakes freezing and when they become blanketed in snow. According to Friends of the Ice Rink, the nonprofit that helps keep the rink operational, the idea for a permanently installed seasonal rink in Mt. Shasta was meant to extend the season. A grassroots effort raised the funding and a used rink “was purchased and shipped to Shastice Park under the ownership and operation of the Mount Shasta Recreation and Parks District.” It officially opened as the Siskiyou Ice Rink in 2000 as a community asset. “You can build a temporary rink almost anywhere. We’re just lucky that we have a permanent foundation for it,” Shaw says, adding that accessibility to the rink is a key component of itsoversight. “It’s a unique situation as far as being a municipal ice rink instead of being privately owned. Because of that, we try to stay flexible to the public and keep our prices low to get as many people as possible on the ice.”
At 85 feet wide by 200 feet long, the scope of the rink is truly impressive. “It’s the only National Hockey League-sized outdoor facility in California,” says Shaw. Its location in Shastice Park also offers an unparalleled view of Mt. Shasta, providing a unique outdoor skating experience. That is, if weather allows it. “If you’ve ever been to Shastice Park, the view is something. I mean, you get up there and you just want to hang out for a whole day. Of course, sometimes it’s snowy and you can’t see the mountain well. But when that mountain’s lit up, it’s absolutely beautiful,” Shaw says.
Public skate sessions on the rink are 90 minutes long with admission on a first-come, first-serve basis. And while public skate remains the primary use of the rink, other groups use it, too. “As a recreational facility, the second we turn on the power to that huge chilling machine, we want to get as much ice time and as many people on the rink as possible. We work with a lot of school groups during the weeks to do field trips. We have private rentals for anybody who’s looking to do a company party. Every now and then we’ll get a game of Broomball out there if we have enough people interested. And we definitely have a very strong hockey program.”
The hockey program is so robust that it is facilitated by its own nonprofit organization, the Mt. Shasta Ice Breakers. “It’s an amazing organization that gives kids and adults the fundamentals for skating,” Shaw says. “It’s also an extremely unique program because it’s not often that you find one that at least covers all of the equipment for kids. That’s always one of the biggest hurdles that people have when it comes to athletics. It’s hard to try something when you have to buy thousands of dollars of gear and then decide you don’t like it anymore. And through the Mount Shasta Icebreakers, kids are given gear for the season that gets returned, so it’s repurposed for the next year. That enables a lot more people to get out there and just try.”
Future expansion of the rink only promises greater access and reliability for winter fun in Mt. Shasta. “We wouldn’t exist without Friends of the Rink, and they are taking the lead on the long-term goal of putting a roof on the rink,” Shaw says. “Having a roof would completely change the operation of the rink for the better by extending the season, and it would keep us from having to cancel events or hockey because of weather. So far, they’ve purchased roof plans so we’re able to say, this is what it’s going to be. And having that secure vision I think will help with people who want to invest in that facility
Siskiyou Ice Rink
800 Rockfellow Drive, Mount Shasta
Article written by:
Megan Peterson has been a freelance storyteller for more than two decades, with writing credits ranging from National Geographic to the Sundance Channel. She also brings a background in marketing and audio tours, and has traveled and worked on six continents. Megan currently lives in Northern California with her family and a menagerie of pets.