The Ultimate Glacier Experience

It’s the adventure of a lifetime at the Columbia Icefield. Ancient stories, astounding scenery and a deep sense of wonder are at the heart of this unforgettable experience.

You’ll explore the ancient Athabasca Glacier on a giant Ice Explorer, discovering glaciology and stepping right on to the glacier itself. Then, history comes alive as you walk out on the glass-bottomed Skywalk. Starting and ending at the Glacier Discovery Centre, the entire experience is a seamless journey of wonder.

Dig Deeper: Interpretive Experiences

The Columbia Icefield is a rich in stories. From the moment you arrive, we bring the past, present and future to life through engaging interpretive learning experiences that’ll enrich your experience, your understanding and your sense of wonder.

A story as old as time

Through our team of interpreters, you’ll connect with and explore this place in a deep and meaningful way.

Educating and inspiring

Your experience is holistic. Get hands-on with interactive and exciting knowledge.

Ancient sheets of ice

Glaciers are rivers of ice that move at an incredibly slow pace. They tell us much about the past and the future.

Cliff-climbing wildlife

Spot mountain goats in their natural habitat, seemingly clinging to a cliff high above the valley. Their agility is a thrill to see.

The distant horizon

High above the Athabasca Glacier are tall peaks, cornices, further icefields and massive valleys. Don’t forget to look far, far away!

A darkness that shines

Come evening, this place becomes a world-class destination for dark sky watching, star-gazing and astronomy. There as much wonder after dark as during the day!

Journey back in time.
Feel the power of the present.

Visiting the Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Valley is like peering into the heart of the planet. Geologically, time moves incredibly slow here. And yet, we can see change happening right in front of our eyes.

Though apparently tranquil, the Columbia Icefield is a powerful, dynamic force, constantly shaping the regional landscape. Located in Jasper National Park, glaciers here endlessly advance and retreat in an ancient elemental dance. This is a place where time is measured in millennia and yet the present moment is incredibly powerful.

Why not stay the night?
Peace and Wonder at the Icefield

Why not stay the night?

Top off your incredible Athabasca Glacier experience with a night at the newly-elevated Glacier View Lodge. Enjoy an exclusive evening Columbia Icefield Adventure tour, gourmet dining and a spectacular stargazing experience amidst a Dark Sky Preserve.

A morning private guided tour of the Columbia Icefield Skywalk takes you high above the Sunwapta Valley for a peaceful start to the day.

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Stewardship

For centuries, the Columbia Icefield has been the defining geological heart of this staggeringly beautiful place. It’s a fragile place that is ever-changing. We study it, observe it, explore it and work with leaders and experts to help mitigate our activities. We take our role as stewards very seriously.

Accessible Adventure: Welcoming all abilities

The Columbia Icefield Adventure is accessible for guests requiring wheelchair access, making it an incredibly unique perspective for getting up close with spectacular natural wonders. 

Five Ice Explorers are equipped with wheelchair lifts to bring guests out onto the glacier. Accessible minibuses are available to transport guests to the Ice Explorer, and then on to the Columbia Icefield Skywalk afterwards. At the Columbia Icefield Skywalk, the entire 800-metre flat circumference is designed as a fully-accessible attraction for wheelchairs, strollers and walkers. 

Twenty-four to 48 hours’ notice of arrival is ideal, ensuring ample time and to accommodate the schedules of guests with accessibility needs.

More information about accessibility across Pursuit

Stories from the Columbia Icefield

Videos Only

ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP

Design & Engineering
The vision behind the Columbia Icefield Skywalk’s design was simple: depend on the natural environment, draw inspiration from it, and integrate with it. With a non-negotiable commitment to an environmentally sound design, Pursuit (formerly known as Brewster Travel Canada) enlisted the help of Sturgess Architecture and Read Jones Christofferson Engineering (RJC). Having worked with Sturgess and RJC for two years, Pursuit unveiled the Columbia Icefield Skywalk’s design in 2011. It was immediately recognized with a World Architecture Festival Award in 2011, where judges said, “The jury was unanimous. This is a simple, elegant yet highly emotional project.

Designed as an extension of the surrounding landscape, the Columbia Icefield Skywalk is entwined in a rock-solid relationship with the natural environment. The structure is built into native bedrock, with weathering steel, glass and wood. These materials mirror, rather than distract from, the natural environment—and are free of paint and other toxins. Keenly aware of and sympathetic to its surroundings, the Columbia Icefield Skywalk is dedicated to a near-zero footprint. Canada’s Globe and Mail stated, “The [Columbia Icefield] Skywalk is an audacious promenade that matches rather than shrinks from an epic landscape.”

Natural Landscape
Design and materials used for the Columbia Icefield Skywalk were specially selected to blend in with the natural landscape. The Corten steel used in the structure is tough weathering steel designed to oxidize in synchronicity with natural environments. The self-sealing metal changes colour as it rusts to mirror the iron oxide in the rocks around it. Materials free of paint and other toxins were specifically chosen for the project. The limited facilities at the Columbia Icefield Skywalk site and fully solar-powered operation minimize environmental footprint, and the relocation of the parking area to the nearby Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre is designed to have a positive impact on traffic-wildlife incidents.

Accessible Experience
The Rocky Mountain National Parks are a haven for visitors from near and far. Wherever you call home, whether it’s your first visit or your tenth, and whether you are spending the night in a backcountry cabin or experiencing the hospitality of the town of Jasper—the national park represents a place of peace and wilderness for everyone.

Pursuit recognizes how essential it is for all visitors to be able to experience the magic of our national parks. Regardless of age or mobility, the Columbia Icefield Skywalk is a completely barrier-free experience to welcome you. The materials used in construction, the open lookouts, the glass railings and smooth grades of the walkway are designed to accommodate strollers, walkers, wheelchairs and any other mobility aids. Start with the Skywalk—you never know where you might find yourself next!

Environmental Assessment
Pursuit commissioned a 169-page environmental assessment including a study on wildlife and vegetation. The assessment was reviewed by Parks Canada officials and was deemed acceptable within Parks Canada’s strict policy framework governing the management and protection of our national parks.

In 2014, the Columbia Icefield Skywalk received the Award of Excellence in Building Engineering as well as the Environmental Award of Merit for Environmental Assessment and Monitoring. One of Pursuit's key goals was to develop the Columbia Icefield Skywalk project with minimal environmental impact. By partnering with Golder & Associates we were able to accomplish this by identifying ways, through careful monitoring, to maintain mountain goat use of the site during construction.

Wildlife Impact Study
As part of the environmental assessment process, in 2011 Pursuit began commissioning an annual wildlife impact study for the Columbia Icefield Skywalk that focused heavily on collecting mountain goat and bighorn sheep data. In particular, the study provides clarification about how and when mountain goats and bighorn sheep use trails and cliffs in and around the Sunwapta Canyon Viewpoint, providing experts with a systematic look on how these precious wildlife use front-country sites that already have a high human use and, thus, human interaction. This study was officially completed in 2017, and confirmed that the Columbia Icefield Skywalk has positively impacted wildlife with a reduction of up-close human interactions at the site.

Inside the Columbia Icefields Glacier Discovery Centre

Parks Canada Information Desk

In a unique partnership, Parks Canada provides information to visitors on local campgrounds, weather and things to do in the area. They can also issue park passes, backcountry passes and is a checkpoint for climbers ascending Mount Athabasca. The Parks Canada desk is located on the main level of the Glacier Discovery Centre across from the Gift Shop.

Parks Canada Glacier Gallery

Come and witness incredible displays and visually exciting exhibits about the Columbia Icefield area and its impact on the regional environment. This self-guided tour takes you back in time to discover how a glacier moves, the importance of icefields in climate research, plus information about the area and local wildlife. Catch the international award-winning new film created for the Glacier Gallery — "Through Ice and Time".

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