Essential Information for Your Athabasca Glacier Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure

Our Experience

Checking In

The Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre is where our adventure begins. Upon arrival, we checked in and had the option to explore the center’s amenities. We took the opportunity to grab a meal at one of the restaurants, browse through the gift shop, and learn more about the area through the interpretive displays, which provided valuable information on the geology, nature, and wildlife of the region.

After settling in our hotel and dropping off our bags, we decided to have lunch at the Chalet, an establishment with a cafeteria-style setup. While Jacob prefers sticking to familiar choices, I enjoy experimenting with different food options. However, my adventurous nature backfires most of the time. In this case, Jacob made the best choice with his chicken tenders and fries, and I learned my lesson. The fries were exactly the way we liked them, and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

Once we finished our food, we joined the queue for the bus, the next step in our experience.

Local Tip: Remember to use the restroom before leaving the Discovery Centre as there are no facilities available during the experience!

columbia ice field adventure

ATHABASCA Glacier

A short bus ride away from the Discovery Centre, we arrived at the base of the glacier. To access the glacier, we transferred to an Ice Explorer, an impressive transport vehicle found in only 23 locations worldwide. The journey onto the glacier felt like a scene from a space movie, and we felt safe throughout the ride. It’s worth noting that the Ice Explorer fleet includes one vehicle located in Antarctica and the rest at the Columbia Icefields.

Photo Tip: The Ice Explorer offers plenty of windows along the sides and roof, allowing for breathtaking views. If you’re planning to capture photos or videos, try to secure a seat where the window can be opened to avoid any glares.

Upon reaching the glacier, our driver provided us with a designated meeting time back at the Ice Explorer. We had around 25 minutes to explore the glacier, which proved to be sufficient.

There was a designated roped-off area where we were free to venture. While the ropes might be a hindrance when trying to take photos, they are necessary for safety. We recommend bringing a water bottle to taste the glacial water.

Local Tip: The temperature on the glacier is typically 27°F (15°C) cooler than at the Discovery Centre, and it can get quite windy. Remember to dress accordingly. Jacob and Rob were prepared in their warm sleeping bag onesies, while I was a bit chilly.

The Columbia Icefield Skywalk

After our time on the glacier came to an end, we boarded the Ice Explorer once again, returning to the bus for a short 10-minute drive north to the Skywalk. The Skywalk, featuring a glass floor, extends over the cliff, providing a breathtaking view of the valley floor from a height of 918 feet. It’s the ideal spot to marvel at the splendor of the Canadian Rockies.

As we walked along the Skywalk, we encountered several interpretive signs that offered insights into the history and geology of the area. For those seeking a more in-depth experience, guided tours are available. While we didn’t opt for a guided tour, we did stop to admire the bones of a Big Horn Sheep and Mountain Goats on display.

Unlike other Skywalks we’ve visited in the past, we didn’t need to wear shoe coverings. Instead, we were asked to wipe our shoes on the mats provided before stepping onto the glass floor. Additionally, we had the freedom to take our own photos and explore at our own pace.

Once we finished at the Skywalk, we made our way back to the parking lot, where buses were available every few minutes to transport visitors back to the Discovery Centre. The duration of your stay is entirely up to you!

Local Tip: Look out for a family of mountain goats that resides beneath the bridge this season. We were lucky enough to spot one peacefully sleeping on the cliffside.

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