At the heart of the Canadian Rockies lies the Icefields Parkway, a stretch of road covering 144 miles, winding through both Jasper and Banff National Parks. Via this route, you can absorb the rich landscape of this region as well as experience what it’s like to stand on top of a glacier as thick as the Eiffel Tower is tall.
Columbia Icefield Tour
There are two fantastic excursions to do on the Icefields Parkway. The first is the Glacier Adventure, a trip out to the Athabasca Glacier, riding in the Ice Explorer, a large all-terrain vehicle.
The Athabasca Glacier is a dense body of slowly moving ice, around 1000 years old, 3.75 miles in length and 1000 feet deep in some places. It loses more than 5 metres of ice every year and will eventually disappear, although likely not for another generation. With that said, if you’re travelling the Canadian Rockies, this is one experience you might want to book as an add-on to your motorhoming holiday!
You can step out of the Ice Explorer vehicle onto the glacier and see for yourself this thrilling, natural wonder and feel the biting chill of the winds at an elevation of several thousand feet. During the tour, you’ll learn a wealth of information about glaciers from the knowledgeable driver-guides and even get to drink pure water from the Athabasca Glacier itself.
Ice Explorer Glacier Tour
The second experience you can take part in is the Glacier Skywalk, featuring an award-winning glass-floored platform, suspended on a cliff edge above the Sunwapta Valley at a jaw-dropping height of 918 metres.
From the walkway, which is just over half a mile long, you’ll see the most fantastic scenery, such as beautiful waterfalls and impressive glaciers perched high above you, not to mention an array of wildlife and fossils. These views can only be described as breathtaking, especially those beneath your feet!
What to wear and bring with you on your trip
Appropriate clothing and shoes
The weather conditions can change quickly on the Icefield and the Athabasca Glacier. It’s best to wear warm clothing, such as a sweater and jacket, and perhaps a hat and gloves in case it snows. If you’re planning to walk out onto the glacier, wear socks and closed-toe shoes or boots with gripped soles to avoid slipping over.
The glacier presents an opportunity to take some incredible photos, so be sure to bring your camera with you!
Food and snacks
The onsite Altitude Restaurant offers breakfast, a lunch buffet, and even an à la carte menu for dinner. Alternatively, you can bring along your own snacks. You can drink water from the glacier, so you may want to bring an empty bottle!
Glacier adventure Banff
Both the Glacier Adventure and the Glacier Skywalk depart from the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre, which is located on the Icefields Parkway at Highway 93 N. It’s about one hour south of Jasper and two and a half hours north of Banff.
You might be interested to know that we can book these experiences for you as an add-on to your holiday – contact our Travel Specialists for details. For more information on Jasper and Banff National Parks and what you can see there, take a moment to check out our escorted motorhome tour to BC and the Canadian Rockies.