Province/Territory: Alberta

Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure and Glacier Skywalk - Experiences above and beyond the others

  • 10,000 year-old crystal-clear ice to stand on when you step out of the Ice Explorer
  • 215 square kilometres of solid ice up to 365 metres deep
  • 280 metres from the valley floor - stand on a glass walkway for birds-eye view of the world

Everyone who steps out of the massive Brewster Ice Explorer onto the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park has the same experience. They breathe in the cool mountain wind, squint their eyes in the brilliant sunshine reflecting off the snow, spin around to see the vast untouched landscape and say the same first word "Wow!" And now, it’s a double "Wow!" with the introduction of the Glacier Skywalk. Two spectacular experiences tucked deep in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains that are must-do experiences to include on any summer adventure to Banff and Jasper National Parks. The drive to the Columbia Icefield is rated as one of the best in the world with colossal rugged peaks wrapped in prehistoric ice and endless valleys where nothing but wildlife roam. At the highest point in the journey is the Columbia Icefield where the Ice Explorers and their monster all-terrain wheels tread delicately onto the glacier for you to walk safely atop the six kilometre-long, one kilometre wide tongue of a 10,000 year old sheet of ice. Dip your water bottle into a stream to drink the freshest water in the world that was destined for three different oceans. Walk along the cliff-edge walk interpretive trail to learn more about the post-glacial landscape. Then step…out…onto…air! The clear glass-floored observation platform is 280 metres above the valley. Listen to the waterfalls, watch birds fly below you, feel the fresh air, relax and enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience.

Why you should visit
  • Drive in a gigantic Ice Explorer onto the Athabasca Glacier to experience winter conditions in the middle of summer
  • Learn about the changing  glacial environment, then step onto the glass-floored observation platform on the Glacier Skywalk
  • Combine the Glacier adventures with other Brewster tours including a gondola ride to the top of Sulphur  mountain, or the Lake Minnewanka Boat Cruise
  • Drive into the heart of the Rockies, past snow crested mountains where strings of glaciers melt into tumbling waterfalls and turquoise lakes
  • Hike trails along the route to smell the fresh mountain air; take in stunning vistas and spot wildlife like deer, elk and moose
  • Explore the Glacier Discovery Centre to see the history of the glaciers and their importance in climate research
  • Enjoy dinner at the restaurant
  • Extend your stay at the Columbia Icefield at the Glacier View Inn

Weather

  • This region of Alberta experiences long harsh winters and brilliant summers. Either season has unpredictable weather and snow can fall even in the summer months, therefore cold weather precautions should be taken any time of the year.
  • Summer days (June to August) are long with daytime temperatures reaching highs of 15°C and cooling in the evenings to 5°C. Less than 10 cm of rain is expected each month, but it can be misty. Always bring sun protection, a sweater and rain protection.
  • Fall (September through October) is a wonderful time to avoid the crowds on the Ice Explorers. Daytime average temperature is 10°C in September and 4°C in October. The unpredictability of the weather at this time of year can cause delays or cancelations of glacier tours. Warmer coats, gloves and boots are advised.
  • The Icefield Parkway stays open year round but Columbia Icefield tours are closed in the winter (December to March) due to the cold temperatures of -10°C and massive accumulations of snow of up to 7 metres.
  • Spring (April – May) still has a large volume of snow falling but the daily temperature is warming up. April’s average daytime temperature is 4°C and May is 8°C. Warmer coats, gloves and boots are advised.
  • Discover local weather information.  Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
Visitor information
  • Hours and Admission Prices
  • Open April through October
  • Ice Explorer tours depart every 15 – 30 minutes for 80 minute tours on the icefield. Shuttles to the Glacier Skywalk are continuous. The length of time you spend at the skywalk is up to you
  • Plan for a whole day adventure from Banff to include travel, tour and leisurely exploration of the Icefield Parkway
  • On-site food and beverage
  • On-site hotel with stunning glacial views
  • Reservations are not required for individuals. Groups should enquire about reservations
  • On-site gift shop
When to go
  • July and August bring the warmest weather and the biggest crowds
  • Beat the crowds by arriving early for Ice Explorer departures and enjoy the Glacier Skywalk at your own pace afterwards
  • Facilities and tours are not available during the winter season
  • Combine the two adventures for a combination discount. Or, inquire about the Explore Rockies Package to save on all the Brewster attractions and activities in the mountains
Need to know
  • Plan two hours for the Ice Explorer tour and at least one hour for the Glacier Skywalk
  • It can be cold out on the glacier. Wear a coat, gloves and sturdy footwear
  • The snow reflects the UV - wear sunglasses to protect your eyes
  • Bring an empty water bottle to taste the pristine water melting from the glacier
  • On the glacier, stay with your group and follow safety directions. It can be dangerous and cracks called crevasses are easy to slip into
  • Wheelchair accessible
Getting Here
  • Located at the boundary of Banff and Jasper National Parks
  • Approximately one hour south from Jasper (108 km) on the Icefields Parkway (highway #93), and 2.5 hours from Banff (180 km) on the TransCanada Highway and the Icefields Parkway (highway #93)
  • Coach tours operate from Banff and Jasper daily during the operational season
  • On-site parking for cars and RVs