Every year, guests come from around the world to immerse themselves in the Columbia Icefield. Like you, we want to ensure this place remain spectacular and special for generations to come.
Through responsible management practices and providing meaningful interpretive programming, we constantly improve our environmental initiatives and make good on this part of our promise. Over the years, Pursuit's Columbia Icefield Adventure has been recognized for its dedication to implementing the best practice in water, energy, recycling and flora/fauna protection at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre in Jasper National Park.
Pursuit's Columbia Icefield Adventure received the National Level Award in 2001 as Canada’s best natural outdoor site larger than 100 hectares.
Department of Canadian Heritage presented the PERC Award to Pursuit's Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre for their efforts in reducing power consumption in Jasper National Park. This Centre, jointly built in 1996 with Parks Canada, was designed to be environmentally-sensitive in setting and construction, water and power consumption, and sewage and solid waste management.
Skywalk 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 Landscapes at the Skywalk
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.
An 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!
On-going 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.