Columbia Icefield Glacier Experience

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Banff and Jasper, Alberta

The Columbia Icefield is one one of the most unique sights in the Canadian Rockies.

The Columbia Icefield is one one of the most unique sights in the Canadian Rockies.

The Columbia Icefield sits astride two of the Canadian Rockies most amazing parks, Jasper and Banff National Park. The Icefields, are one of the largest and most accessible bodies of ice south of the Arctic Circle, making them one of the most unique attractions of the Canadian Rockies.

If you’re interested in seeing the Icefields, you’ll want to check into a guided tour. Some local companies use specially designed vehicles for glacial travel, take passengers on a remarkable excursion onto the surface of the Athabasca Glacier. Each 90 minute journey is lead by an experienced driver-guide, who shares a wealth of fascinating information about glaciers, icefields and their impact on our environment. Mid-point in the tour, passengers can safely step out onto the glacier and stand on this powerful ancient ice. Tours depart every 15-30 minutes from the Icefield Centre on the Icefields Parkway.

Facing the Columbia Icefield Visitors’ Centre lies the Athabasca Glacier – a tongue of ice 6 kilometres long and one kilometre wide. Take time for an icy adventure tour onto the icy slopes of the Athabasca Glacier. You will travel in a specially designed Ice Explorer to the middle of the glacier, on a 5 kilometre round trip journey. Your driver/guide will explain how glaciers are formed and point out interesting geological features as you travel in safety and comfort. At the mid-point, you will have the option of stepping out onto ice formed from snow falling as long as 400 years ago.

A Ride on Icefields Parkway

The Columbia Icefield Glacier Experience is located on Canada’s most scenic mountain roadway; The Icefields Parkway. This is the route to over one hundred visible glaciers, turquoise lakes, rushing waterfalls and numerous hiking trails, picnic spots and campgrounds. Getting to the Columbia Icefield is a remarkable attraction in itself!

Considered one of the most scenic highways in the world, the Icefields Parkway offers an ever-changing view of waterfalls, emerald lakes, alpine meadows and snow-capped peaks. For two hundred and thirty kilometres, from Lake Louise to the Jasper townsite, the Parkway winds along the shoulder of the Great Divide and passes by the spectacular mountains of the Eastern Main Ranges of the Canadian Rockies. It follows the headwaters of three major rivers and crosses two major passes en route.

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Visit the Columbia Icefield

The Columbia Icefield is located on the boundary of Banff and Jasper National Parks. One of the largest accumulations of ice and snow south of the Arctic Circle, it covers an area of nearly 325 square kilometres, sometimes reaching a depth of 300-360 metres. The continuous accumulation of snow feeds eight major glaciers including the Athabasca, Dome, and Stutfield Glaciers, all visible from the Icefields Parkway. The Columbia Icefield is a true “hydrological apex,” for its meltwater feeds streams and rivers that pour into the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans.

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Learn more at the Parks Canada Glacier Exhibit

Take part in an interactive learning experience in the Glacier Gallery Exhibit at the Icefield Centre. This self guided tour takes you back in time to discover how a glacier moves, the importanceof icefields in climate research, plus current information about the area and local wildlife. A Parks Canada representative is available to answer questions about the glacier and provide information on the area.

In a unique partnership, Parks Canada staffs an information desk in the Columbia Icefield Centre. The staff provides information on the area, campgrounds, weather and can issue park passes, backcountry passes and is a checkpoint for climbers ascending Mount Athabasca. Parks Canada staff also takes care of all first aid incidents or emergencies. The Parks Canada desk is located on the main level of the Columbia Icefield Centre across from the Curio Shop. On the lower level of the Columbia Icefield Centre, there is the Glacier Gallery, an interactive learning experience created and maintained by Parks Canada.

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Dining & Shopping

Enjoy a delicious meal overlooking the magnificent Athabasca Glacier or take home the perfect glacier souvenir to remember this once in a lifetime experience! The Icefield Centre features two restaurants, a gift shop and an interactive photo shop with a photographer onsite to capture the prefect souvenir photo.

Stay at the Glacier View Inn

Take this unique experience to the next level by spending a night at the Columbia Icefield in the Glacier View Inn. The lighting in the evening and morning hours is spectacular and is the perfect complement to the magnificent glaciers. The property features 32 guest rooms (most with lofts) and each with a private bathroom, telephone and satellite television.

The Banff - Jasper Photography Blog

The Banff - Jasper Photography Blog

Banff and Jasper photography tips, locations and stories from professional wildlife and nature photographer John E. Marriott.

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