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Columbia Icefield Tours

by K Gordon Schultz

Walk on a real glacier on the Columbia Icefields

Exploring Banff National Park is ideal during the warmer months. Take in the lush greens, blue bird skies and the contrast of the permanently snow-capped peaks, without suffering in dipping temperatures.

For a truly unique experience, head right up to the snow in the middle of the summer!

The Columbia Icefield is located on the Athabasca Glacier where Banff National Park borders Jasper National Park. The glacier is 6 km long and 1 km wide. That’s over 65 football fields long and almost 11 wide! The Columbia Icefield is one of the biggest accumulations of snow and ice that can be found south of the Arctic Circle!

The icefield is 1,180 feet (360 m) deep at some points and is continually growing. Because of its huge size and position along the Great Divide, meltwater from the Columbia Icefield reaches the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans!

Visit the Columbia Icefield Interpretive Centre for interpretive exhibits, guided ice walks, and self-guided trail maps. The centre also offers a dining room, cafeteria, gift shop and accommodation at the Glacier View Inn.

Excursions in the area take visitors across the icefield in a huge Brewster Ice Explorer, a type of all-terrain, all-weather bus from late April until mid October.

During the ride you’ll hear about the geological forces that make glaciers possible and see countless natural wonders. About half way through the 1.5-hour tour, visitors get a chance to step out onto the actual glacier and contemplate the ancient ice’s massiveness and power.

You’ll be there just a blip in the span of time, but just think that over 400 years ago, snow fell in this part of Banff and compacted into the glacier that it is today. Don’t miss this unforgettable trip!

Weather permitting, the tours leave the Interpretive Centre every 15-30 minutes during the season.

To reach the Interpretive Centre, take the Icefields Parkway, a treat in and of itself! This 230 km parkway, between Lake Louise and the town of Jasper, can take you to over one hundred visible glaciers and past picturesque turquoise lakes, alpine meadows, rushing waterfalls and the snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies.

Columbia Icefield Interpretive Centre
Hwy 93 North – Icefield Parkway
P.O. Box #1140
Banff, AB   T1L 1J3
Phone: (403) 762-6735
Toll Free: (877) 423-7433

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