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Columbia Icefield
Columbia Icefield

Columbia Icefield

Improvement District No. 9, Banff

The Basics

The opportunities to explore the Columbia Icefield on your own are limited, but with a guided tour—or even a helicopter trip—you can see more of the vast fields of ice, which stretch for miles. Day tours from Jasper, Banff, or Lake Louise generally include a stop at the Icefields Discovery Centre, a ride on a specially equipped Ice Explorer out onto the glacier, and a walk on the Glacier Skywalk. The Skywalk gives brave visitors the chance to venture out 918 feet (280 meters) above the Sunwapta Valley on a glass-bottom walkway.

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Glacier Day Tour: Calgary, Bow Lake, Columbia Icefield
Glacier Day Tour: Calgary, Bow Lake, Columbia Icefield
star-4
$137.80 per adult
Traveler Favorite
Wonderful places and wonderful trip
It was overall a fabulous experience. Service, vehicle, driver, time management everything was good.
USHA_B, Jul 2022

Recent reviews from experiences in Banff

star-4
Tired of global warming.
James_C, Jul 2022
Glacier Day Tour: Calgary, Bow Lake, Columbia Icefield
It was great to step out on the ice and enjoy the cold!! The time window actually on the ice was very short, given the time it took to get there.
star-4
Great trip for the most part...needed better communication
Miracle_H, Jun 2022
Rocky Mountains Columbia Icefields, Banff & Yoho National Park 3-Day Tour
This was pretty good purchase. The lodging was great in both locations and the tour guides were nice and fun. I only had 1 issue. The day of the Icefields I could not go on the tour because although it says you can book extra attractions through your tour guides bthere's not really a time to do this. They never asked me when they picked me up if I wanted to add any excursions to the trip and the itinerary tells you the lenght of activities but no actual time of where you will be to even plan such things. Instead the day of while in route they just announced that some of us never booked anything so we had to stay at welcome center. Multiple people had this issue and were quite upset since it's about a 4 hour trip to get there just to not be able to go. So while everyone was gone I booked my own activities for the next day. Thankful that activity didn't have any set time to use the ticket. I would suggest either a more detailed schedule to let people know when they will be at certain places so they can plan ahead or send a text out after booking asking if there are any we want to add. Or start including the actual bus ride of the Icefields in the price. Just some better communication prior to the day of when it's too late to book anything.
star-5
Our experience in Jasper National Park
Grace_O, May 2022
Glacier Day Tour: Calgary, Bow Lake, Columbia Icefield
We enjoyed our Japser trip very much. We went on the tour in early May, although some of the spots were not yet opened at the time, our tour guide Will is very resourceful and took us to a lot of alternative scenic spots. He is also extremely helpful and informative. We learnt a lot about the landforms in the rockies, enjoyed wonderful scenery, and even got to see a grizzly bear along the way. It really is a once in a lifetime experience and we enjoyed it a lot all thanks to Will! Would definitely recommend the tour to others.
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Things to Know Before You Go

  • The Columbia Icefield is a must for nature enthusiasts and first-time visitors to Banff or Jasper.

  • Bring closed-toe shoes with a solid grip for walking on the ice.

  • Tote a jacket or sweater, as it can be chilly, even in the summer.

  • The Icefields Discovery Centre and the Skywalk are fully accessible. Book a wheelchair-accessible shuttle in advance.

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How to Get There

The Columbia Icefield is on Alberta’s Icefields Parkway, 82 miles (132 kilometers) north of Lake Louise and 66 miles (106 kilometers) south of Jasper. The parkway can be treacherous in winter and may close due to snowstorms. Taking a tour that includes transportation enables you to enjoy the stunning scenery without the worry of driving.

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When to Get There

The attractions at the Columbia Icefield are open from June until October. During the summer, afternoons are the busiest periods, particularly on weekends. Quieter times are in the morning and after 3pm. Check opening hours, as they vary throughout the season.

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Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Glacier

Columbia is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies and comprises eight major glaciers, the most accessible (and most visited) of which is the Athabasca Glacier. It is the tongue of the Athabasca Glacier that you can see from the Discovery Centre. The Columbia Icefield sits on the Continental Divide and is called the “mother of rivers,” as the meltwaters from the Athabasca and Saskatchewan glaciers flow north, west, and east into major Canadian rivers.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the nearest attractions to Columbia Icefield?
A:
Attractions near Columbia Icefield:
Q:
What else should I know about attractions in Banff?
A:
As well as visiting the Columbia Icefield, check out these trip ideas to make the most of your visit: